This month, Retail Packaging magazine speaks to JAMES HILL, Managing Director at Somerset-based Kingsmoor Packaging (KPL)…….
With the food industry, particularly food-to-go, driving the increased demand for thermoformed packaging, your company should be making hay right now, is it?
Yes of course, the sector is still very much a growing market. We operate very much in the chilled food-to-go sector, salads, sandwiches, sushi, fruit portions, snack cereals etc. The market is fast paced with lots of redevelopment of packs and quick turnaround of products and packaging. This is a process that KPL fully embraces and we feel our method of working regarding delivering new projects really complements the FMCG food-to-go sector.
What are brands currently looking for from their thermoforming partners?
Specifically, the ability to create points of difference – it’s a competitive market out there! Brands are after creative well thought out design, but with functionality. The packaging clearly needs to look good, but must be able to function in the supply chain, whilst satisfying end-user requirements; for example, some food-to-go designs often extend to the inclusion of ergonomic features. Good flexibility and fast lead times are vital.
How is KPL meeting those requirements?
By continuing to develop our design team and investing in the infrastructure of our in-house design facility. We also get our design team ‘out there’ to keep themselves in-tune with the markets we serve. Sending them on field trips to boutique venues in London, foodie exhibitions, anywhere where they can immerse themselves in our markets, helps them understand and appreciate current trends. It’s a case of getting them to think like a product development team.
This forward-thinking approach allows us to provide brands with a set of parameters, so that when we make a pitch, we’ll give three tiers of options 1) blue sky – pushing boundaries 2) middle ground and 3) more standardised options that tick more familiar boxes.
Working with leading brands, what do you see as trends in thermoforming for the future?
The current trend errs on the side of providing consumer appeal, but with fit-for-purpose functionality. Some rigid packaging designs even go one step further by providing an element of re-usability in the packaging after the initial use – an example being some confectionery products. For seasonal packaging, thermoforming can provide brands with flexibility and innovation by offering shelf stand-out solutions with a quick lead-time and at a cost effective price.
Sustainability issues and the use of renewable alternative materials continue to be in a constant flux. How is KPL keeping pace with the changing times?
As a business, we continue to monitor the trends on alternative materials and are always looking for alternative substrates to improve
sustainability. For example, we’ve considered PLA (Polylactic acid) – a biodegradable and bioactive thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane. The trick is finding alternatives that can provide adequate shelf life, barriers, clarity and functionality etc.
More recently we have also started looking at some clever collaborations with carton board/cardboard. Plastic is a very established industry and it is easy to forget the amount of plastic in our lives and how key it is to our infrastructure, not just in terms of food packaging. Changing a substrate could have a massive impact on product functionality and recycling processes that also needs to be taken into account. There is more to it than just the material.
For thermoformers, innovation in technical capability has become as important as innovation in product design. What’s on your equipment shopping list?
We continue to invest in our overall design capabilities as previously mentioned. Like any manufacturer, our focus is on adding value to
the business through efficiencies and productivity. The ultimate aim being to make our operation as streamlined as possible. We’ve recently invested in a new compressor system and we are in the process of upgrading all our lighting throughout our site to LEDs… every little bit helps!
So what’s next for KPL?
More of the same really. We are operating in a good niche, growing with our customers and creating new ones. We have developed a reputation for service and quality and will continue our format on a larger scale, whilst maintaining a quality offering on both standard and bespoke products as cost efficiently as possible. Our single source offering means that we can be nimble and flexible in our operation, which for many brands is a strong selling point.
T: 01458 273 001