With the global consumer spend on snacks totalling $374 billion[1], Europe and North America are still in the lead when it comes to volume. However, the majority of growth is now coming from developing regions, such as Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East and Africa. Rapidly expanding production might be tricky; snacks, especially cookies and crackers, are fragile, non-homogeneous and require hermetic packaging to keep the moisture out, meaning it doesn’t require a one-size-fits-all approach.

In addition, modern packaging machines offer automation that does far more than just put the product into a container. These days, automatic packaging machinery can provide preventive maintenance, performance data, efficiency reports and output analysis all via integrated touch screens with the latest programmable software, pre-loaded with recipes to change from one pack size and format, to another with minimal loss of time.

To help high-growth, snack producers ramp up production, we put together a check list for what to look for in a packaging supplier. There are a number of basic ‘best practices’ that should be observed during the decision process:

  • Look for a company with a history of innovation and experience – This is particularly true of the snacks industry. The right supplier will have case studies and customer references that are relevant to your product. During negotiations, a good supplier will also offer a machine training programme for operators and maintenance personnel, as well as after-sales support backed up by a spares and service team.
  • See a supplier’s machinery in operation – It is important to visit any potential suppliers and see for yourself how robust and user-friendly their equipment is. Most equipment suppliers will gladly offer a tour of their factory, together with trials and demonstrations using your product.
  • Look to ‘future-proof’ your equipment – With changing trends in packaging and food preferences, always consider any future requirements you may have – will the pack format change? Will you need increased speed and production capabilities for different times of the year? Are you likely to introduce another product onto the line?  Choose a machine that will adapt to your needs, and offers flexibility for the future.
  • Involve your production team – The procurement of equipment is generally conducted at a high managerial level, but it is important to involve technicians, maintenance and production personnel in the buying decision. These are the people who live with the machinery day to day, they are only too aware of the pitfalls of unreliable equipment. If they are involved in the research process, then they will be more likely to take ownership of the machinery when installed.
  • Don’t decide purely on cost – Packaging equipment varies vastly from supplier to supplier in terms of construction, specification and quality, and pricing. However, one vendor’s price may include more options, offer added value and ultimately provide a lower cost of ownership. If you automatically choose the lower cost machine, then you may pay dearly in the end when lack of reliability and performance affects your production output.

Investing in packaging equipment means putting your trust in a company who will deliver what they promise, and then continue that promise by providing support in a long-term relationship. Pro-active, experienced food manufacturers with a mind-set towards innovation and forward thinking will choose a supplier with a reputation for quality and a history of success.

Check out our interactive “Find a match” configuration tool to select an optimal system solution for your specific product and production needs.