We are looking at complete in-house packaging to improve our quality as well as brand presence. It is in line with our strategy of backward integration and expansion, says BP Agarwal, chairman, Surya Fresh Foods, which produces 600 tonnes of biscuits, cookies and chocolates each day.
Surya Fresh Foods owners of the Priyagold biscuit brand has installed a dream machine a Rapida 105 6-color plus coater full UV press at its new carton plant at Surajpur in Greater Noida. The Rapida 105 at Surya has three interdeck and one end-of-press UV curing systems and is capable of printing 16,000 sheets an hour.
Though we employed the best packaging companies we found that supplies varied with each lot. Color consistency was a major issue,says Dinesh Prasad, plant manager, packaging division at Surya Fresh Foods that produce and sell the Priyagold range of biscuits and confectionery. At times when a new lot of biscuits reached the retail markets and our products were put on the store shelves besides our old stocks, customers would shy away from buying those biscuit packs which had lighter shades by comparison, assuming they were spurious stocks. We ourselves got confused, and were unsure whether both stocks belonged to our company, says Dinesh Prasad plant manager packaging division of Surya Fresh Foods. Rejecting packaging material on grounds of quality did not help because it would lead to delay in supplies. After rejections there would be good supplies for a few months and then suddenly the color mismatch would begin again, says Prasad. Consistent appearance is an important part of brand building and it is important for brand owners to ensure that it happens without fail. Apart from the control of color density by the state-of-the-art KBA press console, Surya has ordered the XRite Easy TraX spectrophotometer and is also establishing its own ink kitchen together with color management and ink matching systems. Delivery time and security A factor that led to this major investment in carton packaging by Surya Fresh Foods was time to print design changes took almost a month to implement when the packaging was outsourced. Retail products nowadays have new features that have to be introduced without delay to compete in the supermarkets based on consumer feedback. Discount coupons, prizes and other offers are introduced depending on how products move on the shelves. Operational flexibility was another key issue to control with a dynamic retail marketplace. Stocks tend to often abruptly move and slow down in the retail markets and production has to synchronize quickly with demand. With outsourced packaging one cannot simply switch on and switch off the supplies. An external service provider often takes too much time to arrange the grade of paper needed for a fresh design and get the artwork approved. Similarly switching production lots is much slower with outsourced packaging. At times we would be working to incorporate a new feature but would find that our competitors beat us to the market with the same design changes that we were planning, says Prasad. This is a big brand building security issue and usually happens when the outsourced vendors are working with multiple clients having the similar range of products. Since Priyagold’s competition is with big multinational brands of ITC, McVities and Britannia who have a much bigger market presence, at times it looked like they were copying someone’s design. BP Agarwal says that for building and maintaining brand value both the quality of paper and the quality of printing need to be controlled closely and that can happen only when packaging is done in-house. Meanwhile other brand owners in the segment are already enquiring about Surya’s experience in what may become a trend where brand owners invest and move their packaging material production in-house. Surya also has another packaging plant in Greater Noida for producing the flexible packaging needed for the more competitively priced biscuits it produces. We are now producing our entire packaging material in-house, says Agarwal.