Tin-plated steel, primarily used in food and beverage cans, is a traditional market for tin, which functions as a corrosion protector in the material. Until recently, tin use in the sector has remained largely stable, with little change over the last decade. The broad story is that tinplate is seeing saturation or decline in traditional markets such as the US and Europe, offset by growth in emerging economies.

Industry Threats and opportunities

Competition from alternative packaging such as aluminium, tin-free steel, laminated steel, PET, TetraPack and Glass was highlighted by four respondents, with increased use in China.

Impending introduction of new tinplate grades based on new passivation technologies driven by EU REACH regulation may have a competitive and technological impact within the supply chain. There is also some concern over a new China quality standard in draft that may eliminate some smaller producers, especially those using more traditional technologies.

Statistical data from six respondents who reported tinplate production by area suggests that on a weighted average basis tin coating weights and tinplate weight may be decreasing in line with expectations based on cost. However one respondent reported that over the last three years there has been a large shift in customer orders for increased tin coating weights to compensate for possible performance issues of new BPA-free lacquers and this is expected to continue for the next couple of years.