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Sonoco Releases 2023 Annual Report

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For Sonoco, 2023 was a year of progress toward our transformation journey and our second best annual financial performance ever. With net sales of approximately $6.8 billion in 2023, we serve some of the world’s best-known brands with a team of approximately 23,000 working in more than 300 operations around the world. 

Despite facing a difficult macroeconomic environment and lower volumes, we maintained strong adjusted EBITDA margins supported in part by record performances in our Rigid Paper Cans and Flexibles businesses. Even with volume levels similar to 2008, our Industrial business delivered record profit margins through diligent cost management throughout the paper ecosystem.

As we continue to simplify our portfolio, Sonoco is focusing on four core businesses in the Consumer and Industrial Paper segments:

Groupings of Sonoco Products

We believe our packaging adds the most value in these core businesses. Leveraging our advanced material science, high product functionality and continuous process manufacturing, Sonoco has earned the right to win, take leadership and serve large, global customers.

Rigid Paper Containers (RPC)

As a global leader known for innovative, sustainable packaging, we’re uniquely positioned to drive growth while staying competitive for customers. Today, RPC serves three major markets primed for future growth—food and beverage, household and health, and personal care.  

As a strong collaborator with a dedicated, innovative team of experts, three trends are providing support for future growth:

  1. Sustainability: This is a key element of our customers’ packaging strategy to meet consumer preferences and regulatory requirements. Our RPC teams have the engineering know-how and the science needed to transition multiple substrates into fully recyclable paper products.
  2. International Expansion: As customers expand internationally, Sonoco is prepared to serve customers with our global network of 39 sites in 13 countries. Additionally, we invest alongside customers as they make capital investments to meet global demand. With plans to expand and open new sites, our RPC business increases capacity and enables more customers to launch in a sustainable packaging solution from the start.
  3. Innovation: With positive market feedback, our GreenCan® solution offers customers 90-98% recycled fiber packaging that meets high barrier product requirements for products like coffee. 

Metal Packaging

In 2022, Sonoco acquired capabilities for tinplate steel aerosol and food can manufacturing that merged with our existing metal component and closures capabilities. This new core, consumer platform streamlines production with a footprint of 12 domestic U.S. operations, providing economic value and reducing freight costs.  

As the only producer of two-piece and three-piece aerosol cans, we serve markets that include household products, personal care items and spray paint. We also serve the food and beverage can markets with top-tier products and services that enhance value within established packaging formats. 

Flexibles and Thermoforming

To simplify our portfolio, we merged our Flexibles business with four Thermoforming businesses into one platform on Jan. 1, 2024. With 25 facilities in six countries, this business produced almost 75% of combined 2023 sales in the U.S.

These merged product lines center on the snack, condiment, health product, prepared meals, fresh produce, coffee and pet markets. Combining our knowledge of common end markets, technology and sustainability efforts to improve recycling of mono-materials, we’re working to increase revenues with this new, scaled platform by continuing to provide innovative packaging solutions. 

Industrial Paper Packaging

Started in 1899, this is Sonoco’s oldest business. Since the beginning, we’ve continued to reinvent, innovate and grow by focusing on providing superior value, service and quality. As of 2021, this segment operates as an integrated global business with five regional general managers under one leadership team.

As a vertically integrated global leader of Uncoated Recycled Paperboard (URB) and converted URB products, we have 160 facilities in 29 countries. We produce approximately 2 million tons of URB yearly—of which 52% was consumed internally in 2023.  

Our key external end markets include tissue and towel core stock, flooring paper, core board and food packaging. Our key internal end market includes our RPC business and our industrial division. With modest growth and sustained profitability, we’re maintaining our world-class service, quality and technical leadership.

This 125-year-old company will continue to commit to doing the right thing through sustainable activities linked to businesses—sustainability assessments and roadmaps, testing and data, recyclability acceptance and labels, customer and corporate commitments, energy and emissions reductions and thought leadership and recognition. By aligning our business and center functions, we’re working to deliver a more sustainable future for our employees, customers and shareholders. To learn more, visit our Investor Relations page or read Sonoco’s 2023 Annual Report.