By Simon Lane, Sales and Marketing Director, Wellpak UK
Convenience foods – and the convenience sector – are growing in the UK, spurred on by increasingly busy lifestyles and a greater emphasis on eating healthily.
Some interesting facts and observations:
Over 75% of consumers are ‘very likely’ to swap their regular snacks for healthier options and this increases to 92% in the 18 – 24 age range (the Yoghurt Council).
Nearly a quarter of people have breakfast ‘on the go’ at least once a week (Forecourt Trader).
The average household fridge is opened 42 times a week versus 22 times for the kitchen cupboard.
And the convenience retail sector grew by at 5.1% to the year ended April 2015 (Institute of Grocery Distribution).
This is a market we know well, where we have built strong relationships and continue to invest.
We have developed tailored services, such as Wellpak Solus, to target the specific needs of convenience retailers; and our Service Partners have been working alongside us to perfect new packing applications and technology.
So, we’ve been studying what new products we can offer our customers; to support them to open up new opportunities.
And by combining all our experience and capabilities – Wellpak’s services to the convenience market, our worldwide grower base and Service Partners’ technology – Wellpak is launching a range of fresh snack-pots.
The launch range will be blueberries, cherries and cherry tomatoes (Wellpak’s recent entry into the salads market has allowed us to include cherry tomatoes in the launch).
The snack pots will have peel off lids for easy eating whatever the occasion: breakfast, lunch, in the car, on a park bench on a sunny day, for children’s lunch boxes, for picnics or straight from the fridge whenever.
And more snack pot products are in the pipeline, working with our growers and drawing on the produce that we already source and supply.
The snack pots will be packed by our Service Partner, Ackio UK, that has progressively developed – and continues to invest in – an array of technologies since its launch as a start-up business in 2011.
We have been working with Ackio to develop the pots for some months. Ackio is able to pack the pots, which are relatively upright and ‘unstable’ when compared to a conventional punnet, to exact weight and at high speed.
Each product, berry, cherry or tomato, is individually checked for quality using both Ackio’s ‘vision based’ colour and air pressure systems that tests for softness and can be calibrated to a selected setting. The pots are then sealed with a pre-printed film ready for delivery to our customers and to the final consumer in store.
For our customers, we believe they will add a highly attractive addition to Wellpak’s products and to the services that Service Partner Ackio has to offer.