This series is sponsored by the Can Manufacturers Institute, where gray is the new green. Want to know the reason? Download our sustainability paper to learn more about how cans stand alone as the sustainable solution for 21st-century packaging. Pass it on. CanCentral.com/sustainability.

Beverage brands have been working on innovations and modifications that make their cans perform better and stand out in consumers’ minds.

British Columbia inventor Steve Archambault has created what he says will be the next generation can pop top, a “smart tab” that thirsty folks use to open the can in the normal fashion. Once their thirst is slaked, users swivel the tab around and it acts as a cork to stop up the can until thirst calls once more, as Beverage Daily reported this summer.

Cans closures have gone from sealed lids that had to be punctured with a can opener to the tabs of today; now, much of the latest innovation in the world of aluminum cans has shifted from sealing to temperature. (read more…)

Denver salad chain MAD Greens added a locally grown salad to the menu this summer, and while the limited-time Alferd Packer will be gone after Sept. 30, lettuce used to make it will be available year-round. This week, the company got its first produce order from Vertifresh, a local startup that uses hydroponic technology to grow lettuce and other greens in retrofitted shipping crates in a warehouse in an industrial part of the city.

Vertifresh founder and CEO William Sears got the company up and running this year, after licensing technology needed to grow lettuce and other leafy greens. The warehouse — he’s dubbed it a farmplex — holds five 20-foot-long repurposed shipping containers, each capable of turning out the equivalent of 2.5 acres of lettuce every 27 days, about half of the time of a traditional crop grown in soil, without using herbicides or pesticides, Sears said. He’s adding more of the stackable containers and expects to have between 25 and 30 in use by year-end. (read more…)

“Brand” can be a tough concept for business owners to get their heads around, Red Slice founder Maria Ross told attendees at breakout session “Evolve Your Brand” at The New York Times Small Business Summit. “Your brand is more than your logo,” Ross said. “It’s the core and essence of your company.”

As with everything in the world, change is inevitable. Brands, particularly those that hope to thrive and expand over time, also must be prepared to evolve, Ross and fellow panelists said. “All kinds of changes” — in the economy, in trends, in your customer base, in your community — “can signal that it’s time for you to rebrand” your business, as two panelists found.

Hint

“You really have to develop something in this day and age that’s authentic and solves a problem no one else is addressing,” said Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint, who did just that with her line of zero-calorie water naturally flavored with fruits and vegetables. (read more…)

AMC’s “The Pitch” premiered Sunday with a sneak-peek episode that featured advertising agencies McKinney and Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener competing head-to-head to create a winning ad campaign aimed at bringing 18- to 24-year-olds to Subway for breakfast. In the end, McKinney won for its “Wake Up Your Taste Buds” campaign featuring YouTube rapper Mac Lethal. I interviewed Subway Chief Marketing Officer Tony Pace about what the company hoped to gain from “The Pitch” and what Subway looks for in a winning ad campaign.

What does Subway hope to get out of its participation in “The Pitch”?

We’re always in search of great content that we can extend through our digital channels. We have had a lot of success with other branded integrations and felt some of the work created by the winning agency could ultimately be translated for use in the digital space.

What is Subway looking for in a winning ad pitch? (read more…)

IFMA LogoThis blog series is brought to you by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), the leading trade association for the foodservice industry. This series will focus on ways to optimize across the entire supply channel and bring consumers back to foodservice.

Foodservice industry leaders are keeping optimization top of mind now more than ever, with the goal of providing the best product and experience to customers while making the best financial decisions for their company amid an economic downtown.

What is optimization?

To Matt Riddleberger, vice president of supply chain services at Firehouse Subs, optimization “means driving as much product through one supplier or distributor as possible. This allows you to leverage volume from a cost perspective, along with leveraging your freight as well. Optimization also includes the review of miles that the product travels before reaching the end user. Reducing miles also reduces the freight costs.”

Shipping products in full truckloads and increasing the number of delivery locations can help drive down costs and keep companies growing. (read more…)