International pundits who have predicted the demise of the can as a food packaging medium have been given a sharp rebuff by Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Heinz. He said this week: "The can will be around long after you and I have gone." But speaking to The Grocer shortly before leaving Heinz's Pittsburgh HQ for a tour of Thailand and the Far East, Johnson predicted that shopper demand would continue to force innovation in food packaging. He said: "It's not the big retailers who are driving this, it's their customers. "They are looking for convenience and ease of use while at the same time requesting safety considerations, hence the arrival of the foil packs for items like tuna." Meanwhile, the Heinz boss repeated the group's oft-stated intention to remain a force in the canned tuna business. Heinz claims to be the only tuna canning company "to transverse the globe", and Johnson is adamant that the group, and the sector, can continue to show growth, despite predictions that the market's recent surges would wane. Investment in canning plants in the Seychelles and Central Africa have increased the group's role in the sector and the Heinz chief said this production base would drive the group towards even higher tuna sales. Meanwhile, having gained a major stake in the canned red salmon market with the purchase of John West from Unilever, Johnson said Heinz would extend its salmon selling operation into other non traditional markets. The Heinz boss also plans to continue to drive product innovation globally. In recent weeks there have been predictions that the group will introduce another colour into its ketchup range in North America to follow the "phenomenally popular" green version recently extended into the UK. An announcement is expected shortly, but US sources suggest the latest colour is likely to be either purple, orange, yellow or "hot pink". {{NEWS }}