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Fast food finesse

As reported earlier this year (PPM Feb 2015), Shave & Gibson (S&G) has geared up to take advantage of the significant realignment in the folding carton sector by investing heavily in the latest printing, converting and finishing technology to ensure ongoing success.

As a result, the company has been able to maintain a competitive edge, by improving efficiency, reducing material costs, minimising overheads, ensuring top-quality production and on-time in-full service delivery – a combination of attributes that has helped S&G to gain an ever-greater share of South Africa’s fast food packaging market.

Backing this claim, national sales manager, Bill Furniss, cites highly impressive percentage increases in S&G’s share of major accounts in the sector. Also, bearing testimony to this success, S&G received an ‘assured supply’ award from KFC at its last supplier awards evening.

It was three years ago that S&G ‘added a new twist’ to fast food packaging with the KFC Twister wrap-pack (PPM May 2012) and Bill confirms that since that report the company has become even more committed to innovation. ‘The KFC Twister wrap-pack represented a move away from a standard foil overwrap and was designed specifically for on-the-go eating, using food-safe grease-resistant cartonboard,’ he explains.

S&G’s focus remains firmly on leading the way in stylish convenience packaging and, following the successful KFC project, the design team is working on a number of exciting new fast food packaging products.

‘We’re definitely seeing a change from the usual packaging designs and branding in this sector. Recent graphics upgrades and innovative use of alternative materials by most major brand owners, specifically a greater use of cartonboard, is a striking example of the change in thinking with regards QSR packaging,’ Bill continues.

Another novel concept that’s proving highly successful is the use of an imported kraft-backed board. Using the board’s white surface (normally reserved for printing) as the inside of the carton, with the kraft side becoming the outer print surface for branding and strong environmental messages, this innovation earned S&G a coveted ‘best in food packaging category’ citation for a range of take-out cartons in the 2011 Gold Pack Awards. ‘And this year,’ Bill recounts proudly, ‘our world-first oven-friendly folding carton for heated in-flight meals, supplied to British Airways, has been named as a finalist in this year’s Gold Pack Awards.’

The seal of quality

In a bid to ensure sustainability and to demonstrate its commitment to responsible use of natural resources, S&G achieved full FSC CoC (Chain of Custody) certification in 2012.

‘To be able to print the FSC logo on packaging sets us apart; and can only be achieved when a converter is fully FSC CoC certified. Having the necessary certification, we’re able to print the FSC logo on customers’ folding cartons, allowing them to demonstrate their sustainability commitment to consumers.’

This was followed in 2014 by S&G’s achievement of FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification).

‘We may well be the first folding carton converter in South Africa to receive this certification for carton packaging to be used for both direct and indirect food contact,’ Bill comments.

As food producers face increasing pressure from consumers and lobby groups for product safety, players throughout the supply chain undergo similar scrutiny. As a major supplier of food-related folding cartons, S&G reviewed its role in this process. ‘Major brand owners now insist that packaging suppliers, particularly for direct food contact, have a FSMS (Food Safety Management System) in place, and are accredited by a recognised institution, or at least that internal processes pass an audit based on a recognised standard,’ Bill explains.

‘At the start of our food safety journey, we were obtaining certification from each company we were supplying. While this gave us a good overall view of requirements, we realised we needed to streamline procedures, cut multiple auditing costs and settle on a common standard. We decided to go the FSSC 22000 route because it’s recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and accepted worldwide by food manufacturers and retailers alike.’

FSSC 22000 uses a management systems approach to food safety, using ISO 22000 and publicly available specifications as prerequisites. The system also integrates effectively with the ISO 9001 quality assurance platform that S&G has maintained for many years. ‘It’s important to note that ISO 22000 on its own isn’t recognised by GFSI, so we believe we’ve made the right choice,’ Bill notes.

‘Most importantly, we’ve gained the respect of leading brand owners, who understand what it takes to achieve this certification,’ Bill contends.

Summing up, he remarks: ‘Along with our investment in advanced converting equipment and our FSC certification, FSSC 22000 is another essential step in our strategy to position ourselves as a world-class food packaging converter.’

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