Belmont Packaging claims to have established the UK's first on-demand digital sheet packaging plant, responding to demand for more eye-catching packs to help brands stand out from retailers' labels on shelf.
As food prices rise and family budgets are squeezed, leading brands are losing ground to cheaper own-label products, said the company.
Retailers also needed suppliers to respond quickly to changing trends, seasonal demands and special occasions in order to boost sales, it added.
This is a particular challenge for specialist food and beverage manufacturers, for which the cost of packaging for a small, promotional product shipment may prove prohibitive.
Belmont Packaging's new plant, which is located at its headquarters in Wigan, England, would help, it said. It could meet the requirement from manufacturers of all sizes for smaller batches of high quality digitally printed packaging and turnaround orders in hours, rather than days or weeks.
The factory can cope with runs of up to 10,000 units. This was ideal for suppliers of niche products, or for targeting high street retailers and wholesalers who often required small trial batches to see if products would sell before committing to sizeable runs, he said.
Traditionally, UK corrugated packaging suppliers have had to specify massive minimum print runs to justify their overheads. This led to financial headaches for manufacturers forced to waste money on an over-supply of boxes or cartons, with the surplus needing to be disposed of or stored at more cost.
Ian Fozzard, managing director at Roosters Brewery in England, said the plant had already benefited the business, which ordered 400 corrugated cases to launch three new bottled beers.
“Having the flexibility to order just a few hundred high-quality, printed corrugated presentation boxes for our new range of fine beers is the ideal solution for getting the products to market more quickly, helping us to target individual sectors such as wholesalers and off-licences much more effectively.”
Belmont managing director, Sean Moloney, added: “Recent years of retail growth and sophistication have not only seen average packaging batch sizes reduce, but also a growing need for quick turnaround of products to store.
"We are consistently able to meet and exceed this demand at all levels of the supply chain, transforming the appearance of goods on the shelf and supporting food and beverage manufacturers’ sales growth across a much wider retail landscape.”