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One manager's plea to simplify the complex

A number of brand owners tell me they are looking to consolidate their supply chains to improve efficiency.

Include Tropical Foods, a manufacturer, importer, and distributor of bulk and packaged snacks and specialty foods, among them. The Charlotte, NC, company began in 1977 with about 100 items. Today, its portfolio exceeds 3,000 products.

Recently, a broker approached the company with an idea that became the company’s newest product, Dipping Chocolate. Tropical Foods fills and packages its own products, and it did so with this new item.

The company desired a higher-end package to support such a premium product. As Chad Hartman, the brand manager for Dipping Chocolate, tells CP, the package development team believed the solution was screen-printing the lid. However, the team soon scrapped that idea because the printing failed to meet its quality expectations.

Team members chose option two: a printed adhesive label, applied by a contract packager. This label is a perfectly acceptable brand communicator, but it leaves Hartman longing for improvements in the process for assessing and executing packaging components with vendors.

“We don’t have a packaging creation team to speak of,” Hartman tells me. “I rely heavily on vendors for expertise in packaging projects. A salesman who is also a packaging expert would be a great asset. A printing technology somewhere in between a sticker label and in-mold labeling would be great, or, more widespread in-mold labeling.

“If packaging companies could offer complete production solutions, packaging production equipment, and processes, I would partner with them immediately.”

No doubt that other brand owners, especially those with a portfolio of products, are thinking along these same lines. They have issued a call to action to contract packagers and their supply chains for better collaboration and innovative ideas that save money and simplify operations.

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