A pandemic-induced pivot for family owned and operated Australian commercial print business CBS Printing has led to the establishment of a thriving one-stop-shop food packaging business.
CBS Printing has been providing commercial printing, design, and distribution services to the Macarthur area in NSW for over 40 years.
Printing is the company’s core business, with an established fleet of Ryobi four-colour UV presses and Heidelberg die-cutting machines in situ at the Smeaton Grange facility.
The advent of the pandemic, however, saw a downturn in business from regular customers who were unable to operate due to Covid-19 restrictions. At the same time, demand was spiking for printed packaging to service the burgeoning ready meal sector.
Until that time, the company had been supplying printed materials for packaging, but saw an opportunity to service a rapidly growing customer base of food service start-ups and small food companies who found themselves having to quickly move into home delivery and retail – uncharted territory for most of them. Included in this customer base were companies already supplying ready meals to retail, but who now had to service increased demand for a wider range of products.
The snap decision was made to invest in an in-line DGM Smartfold 800 SL folder gluer machine, supplied by Graph Pak, which would enable CBS to convert flat printed sheets into ready meal sleeves.
The line’s capacity is 60,000 units an hour, converting packaging for a customer base that has grown rapidly to 166 ready meal companies.
Joshua Wilson, head of the new packaging division, explains that beyond the packaging line installation CBS has created a full service, end-to-end solution for food manufacturers.
“We saw a huge gap in a full-suite service for these companies, who were faced with the major challenge of entering a market that was new to them – retail – and setting up their supply chain. Many didn’t know where to start, sourcing ingredients, finding a manufacturer, finding packaging that aligned with their sustainability values, the works,” Wilson said.
CBS has established a network of partners who can supply all the requirements for a ready meal maker who needs the food processed, packaged, and delivered to the retailer. The company can also assist with branding and marketing strategies.
“From raw materials, to equipment, to packaging components, to brand design, and much more, we can add this value for these clients to take the burden off them so they can focus on what they do best, creating the meals,” Wilson tells PKN.
“Working closely with our partner network, we have made it possible to turn around packaging design prototypes in a week, providing sample sizes and mock-ups for the customer to show to their customer.”
“In the past year, I have had spoken to over 1000 companies, fielding enquiries or connecting suppliers as part of our network,” Wilson said.
“We’re extremely pleased to be able to help these new food businesses, and as well as pass on new business to our network partners”
Wilson says the packaging business has taken off so well that the company is looking to brand it as a separate division of CBS Printing.
Solar investment pays off
The same forward-thinking approach driving the new packaging business, inspired CBS to install solar panels at its factory a few years ago, and the cost savings have helped fund this latest business expansion.
The 260 solar panels,supplied by Energus and installed on the roof of the 1300sqm factory in 2018 has since saved the company almost $30,000 on energy costs.
According to Thomas Bell, sales director at Energus, the panels have produced 96.8MWh of energy in that time. He notes that in 2020, Energus saw a 20 per cent increase in the installation of solar for commercial property owners
CBS Printing director, Stephen Wilson, said the decision to convert to solar was easy, after calculating the company’s return on investment to be under 5 years. “I see solar as an excellent long-term investment in both the property and our family business.”
In addition to its financial benefits, Wilson says the decision to convert to solar energy was an important step toward the company’s goal to develop sustainable business practices.
He says that the staff are proud of the company’s approach to sustainability and that CBS Printing has shared its carbon-reduction efforts which include installing solar and using chemical-free inks with customers.
“Green packaging for ready-made meals is now the way of the future, as companies look at their supply chains as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies,” Wilson said.