Packing Partners

10 September 2018

Brands want flexibility. Customers want exactly what they want, when they want it. Contract packaging companies want everyone to know that they can help on both counts. It's basically like hiring the best freelancer – everything you need and nothing you don't, with a price that's cost-effective. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to brand owners and co-packers to learn more.

Start-ups, new product launches, special offers and exclusive formats – whatever you want from your packaging, a contract packer can help. Rather than commit to the cost of tooling, or sign up to greater volumes than you need, working with a contract packaging partner can offer the flexibility of whatever packaging you require.


A new face on the ripe-for-rejuvenation contract packaging stage is Essex-based Retrocorn, a retro inspired popcorn company that operates as a co-packer for small to medium-sized businesses. The company is headed up by dynamic and approachable businessman Greg Taylor.


Taylor tells Packaging Today, “The co-packing industry is changing. Larger co-packing organisations are focused on driving volume with big brands. A reliable co-packing partner can provide flexibility and respond rapidly to consumer demand. A good contract packing company has the experience to produce the best and most appropriate packaging for the customers' product. At Retrocorn, our range of services enables your product to be merchandised in the most eye-catching, attractive and practical way for the customer and the retailer. We've been through this process many times and can offer expert advice to help people understand the important decisions they face when packing their products.”


Retrocorn is responding to this change in the industry towards lower volumes, shorter runs and more exclusive packaging. Taylor adds, “It's certainly true that, for brands, acquiring a facility, purchasing food grade equipment and paying employees can quickly add up. The service of a co-packer like Retrocorn means we can help smaller manufacturers avoid huge packing costs. They can keep their operation small but scalable. We offer more than just a co-packing service; it's about sharing knowledge and mutual benefits along the way.”


Stay close


Taylor believes that being strategically located within the M25 means the company has close access to customers in London and the counties that surround it. He explains, “Being physically close to your co-packer allows you to build trust, maintain more productive lines of communication and stay on the same page. Choosing a co-packer can be difficult. We encourage our customers to ask as many questions as necessary. We can work together from simply packing the products to providing design advice and helping you choose the right packaging materials. Flexibility and communication is key as it saves time, money and gets results.”


Co-Packing is not only suited to start-ups or small volumes, it's used by some of the most well-known and well-loved UK brands. Big Bear Confectionery is the home of such famous sweet treats as Poppets, Just Brazils and Fox's Glacier Mints – with the latter celebrating its centenary this year. Big Bear works closely with its sister company, packaging manufacturer Lindum Snacks, whose contract packaging expertise has been of help to Big Bear for over a decade.


Big Bear Confectionery marketing manager Andrew Ovens tells Packaging Today, “Our brands are widely stocked across forecourts, supermarkets, discounters and independent retailers and we're an award-winning supplier of own-label sweets across products such as gums, jellies, toffees and fudge. Working with Lindum Snacks brings a wealth of experience, expertise and and new packaging development ideas to our partnership. As it specialises in limited edition runs, Lindum can provide us with the flexibility we need in terms of materials, designs and quantities.”


Old yet new


Ovens continues to explain how this co-packing partnership is successful for both parties. He says, “We've successfully designed and launched limited edition ranges, such as the Fox's Glacier Berries and Ice Cream Favourites, and they've really helped drive sales. We've also been working closely with Lindum to create a limited edition celebration tin to mark the official Fox's 100th anniversary, which will feature the 100-year branding we've rolled out across our core range. We wanted to produce something a little different and hope to bring the nostalgia of previous Fox's collectable tis to the 21st Century.”


Old brands with new launches...contract packaging is the ideal choice for Big Bear as it enables it to stay one step ahead of consumer demand without having to heavily invest in packing machinery. Ovens confirms, “Working with Lindum from concept through to design and delivery, this year will also see the trial of our first travel-sized product – Fox's Travel Tubes – 50g cardboard tubes with fully removable lids that are perfect for on-the-go. We're also seeing sharing formats increasing in popularity. Versus 2014, Kantar research shows that sharing occasions with five or more people consuming chocolate have risen 27% as people continue to cut costs by staying in with friends and family. We've worked with Lindum to capitalise on this growth and will be launching a new Poppets Snack Pack multipack, featuring ten individual 25g bags containing two of the national's favourite Poppets flavours, Chewy Toffee and Mint Creams.”


Contract packaging is a popular choice for personal care and beauty products too, with the flexibility and expertise offered a welcome service to brands that like to focus on the affordability of their range. London-based Brodie & Stone International manufacturers and distributes 'affordable luxury'  products to leading grocers, major high street retailers and leading discounters across the UK and has over 25 years' experience.


Brodie & Stone CEO Michael Eggerton tells Packaging Today how working with contract packaging partners is key to maintaining its price point and quality assurance balance. Eggerton says, “We have a wide portfolio of beauty brands, however we focus on our four hero ranges: T-Zone medicated skin care; vegan haircare range Natural World; home lash-tinting range Colorsport; and Janina, a luxury teeth whitening toothpaste. Packaging is key for us as it is vital in making our brands stand out from the wealth of competition on the market and helps us catch the attention of potential customers.”


Win, win


Eggerton explains how Brodie & Stone works closely with contract packaging company Viaderm, who specialise in beauty and personal care brands, in order to ensure that its broad range of brands maintain their 'affordable luxury' promise. He adds, “We source 90% of our packaging direct with mainly UK suppliers. We love to support British manufacturers and we also love attending trade fairs every year, such as Cosmoprof in Bologna and Hong Kong and EasyFairs in Birmingham, as this ensures we get to see the latest trends from the best packaging providers.”


Mr Eggerton notes, “We find that contract packaging companies offer the widest variety of options,  are often able to cater to our demands and can work towards the vision we have for our new products and launches. When choosing a contract packer, we take a range of factors into consideration such as how current the designs are, the sustainability of the materials used and how quickly they can meet our requirements.”


Brodie & Stone's contract packing partner Viaderm prides itself on working closely with beauty and healthcare brands to develop, manufacture and supply the ideal packaging solution. Its speciality is small quantities of tube-style packaging, but this is just one element of its portfolio. Managing director Peter Scanlon says, “We are continuously investing in new methods and beauty product manufacturing to meet the changing needs of our clients. We take our clients' ideas from concept to live product, with out technical excellence and quality manufacturing at our core. As a contract packer we can also offer formulation development, trial batches assessed by our technical team and complete packaging.”


At a time when consumers are used to picking and choosing exactly what they want from wherever they want, brand loyalty is an increasingly outdated concept. By engaging the services of a carefully-matched contract packer, brands are able to keep quality high, volumes low and manufacturing costs as affordable as possible.



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