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Case Study

Maxwell House Coffee Case Study

It's a concept and strategy developed by Sonoco in 2002 to deliver to its customers complete and customized packaging solutions and turn-key management capabilities.

Today, it is the Company’s ability to successfully execute the total packaging solutions strategy — offering a full range of packaging supply chain products and services from creation to reclamation — that separates Sonoco from its packaging peers.

Delivering on the Total Solutions Commitment

Perhaps the best example of Sonoco’s ability to deliver on its “total solutions” commitment occurred when Kraft Foods decided to explore packaging alternatives to the metal cans it was using for the Maxwell House brand coffee. Kraft Foods turned to Sonoco, the world’s largest producer of rigid paperboard cans, and a company that has provided innovative packaging solutions to leading brands around the world since 1899.

Dedicated, Diverse Teams

For the Maxwell House project, Sonoco assembled a dedicated team of employees from various divisions within the Company to collaborate on the venture. For more than two years, this team worked to develop a package that could successfully meet the cost objectives and performance expectations of Kraft Foods. The result is a high-performance rigid paperboard can, designed and manufactured specifically for Kraft Foods, that represents the next generation of coffee packaging. This new Maxwell House container debuted on store shelves in 2009.

Because of its diverse total solutions portfolio, Sonoco was able to make all six components for the new Maxwell House package.
  • The can is spiral-wound from 100% recycled paperboard and includes a high-barrier liner that helps deliver great tasting coffee cup after cup.
  • Sonoco’s patented Ultraseal® membrane end is used for the container’s opening.
  • Developed for non-processed applications like coffee, the flexible end creates a hermetic seal and features a unique valve that releases built-up pressure that can occur in coffee packaging.
  • The can’s overcap is made using Sonoco’s patent pending Sealclick® plastic closure technology, which produces a lid for the can that tightly reseals—with an audible snap—by simply applying pressure using both thumbs. Kraft Foods calls this new overcap its “Flavor Lock Lid.”  
  • Finally, to help differentiate the look of the new Maxwell House can, Sonoco uses its state-of-the-art gravure cylinder engraving operations and rotogravure presses to create a unique and vibrant label. The smooth surface of the can also provides superior billboarding for the newly created Maxwell House graphics.
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Sonoco today has positioned itself as the industry’s only total solutions provider for consumer product companies.

The business model is one that other companies have attempted to duplicate, but it truly remains unequaled in the industry.

Today, Kraft Foods uses Sonoco’s rigid paperboard containers for several brands of coffee, including Maxwell House, the second largest coffee brand in the United States. Kraft Foods  first began using Sonoco’s high-performance composite cans in 2008 for its Yuban® and Nabob coffee brands.

Sonoco produces its patented Sealclick® plastic closures for the Maxwell House Flavor Lock Lid at its molded plastics plant in Forest City, N.C. In total, seven divisions and 11 Sonoco plants contribute to the production of the new Maxwell House composite can.

Six components make up Sonoco’s high-performance composite cans:
  1. Paper for the cans comes from a plant in Richmond, Va.
  2. The high-barrier liners are manufactured in Morristown, Tenn.
  3. The patented Ultraseal membrane ends and bottoms come from plants in Memphis, Tenn
  4. The overcaps are made in Forest City, N.C.
  5. Labels are manufactured in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
  6. Adhesive for can construction is supplied through a plant in Hartsville.