Crown Imports has opened its fifth drinks can plant in China, with another five on the way as the group seeks to slake brewers' and soft drinks producers' thirst for packaging.

Crown said today (6 October) that it has officially opened its can facility in Hangzhou, in China's Zhejiang province. The plant is capable of supplying 33cl and 50cl aluminium cans, with an initial annual capacity of 700m cans.

Volume sales of beer and soft drinks are rising strongly in China. The likes of The Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo, SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev are all seeking to increase their presence across the country.

Crown has five can plants in China and has another five in the pipeline. Construction on plants in Putian, Heshan and Ziyang is underway and the firm has plans for two new facilities in Changchun and Zhengzhou.

The chairman, president and CEO of Crown, John Conway, said: "We are pleased to be able to support both regional and multi-national customers with locally-produced beverage cans, a format that is gaining favour because it presents an economical and efficient packaging option and has a strong environmental record."