Page 26 - Food&Drink Magazine May-June 2020
P. 26

Digital delivers an edge
Maverick, pioneer, innovator: Ross Read, owner and MD of Read Labels & Packaging, is all three. In 2000 he established the first label making company in Australia to offer only digital print, and in the ensuing two decades has delivered the technology to flexible packaging, enabling small food and beverage brands to create a big impact on shelf.
BEING first to market with a product and service no-one else can offer gives Ross Read tremendous satisfaction. This is why, as one of Australia’s first label printers to take the leap of faith in digital printing – purchasing an HP Indigo press back when digital was very much the new kid on the block – he was able to grow his business significantly by servicing the small end of town.
And it’s this same sense of satisfaction he seeks to deliver for his customers, many of them start-ups or artisan brands needing help to amplify their market presence through high quality, head-turning, printed labels and packaging. Companies like Chai Spice Beverages (see case study below) are among Read’s many customers whose testimonials
showcase how digitally printed packaging has unlocked value for their businesses.
As the first label printer to focus on a digital-only offering, Read quickly grew his customer base in the boutique wine industry, and also among food and beverage start-ups, by addressing the need for labels with high quality graphics, produced in short runs and for multiple SKUs.
With the labels side of the business ticking over at a steady pace, Read saw a gap in the market for short-run flexible pouches. He knew then what he still knows now: digital print could offer small brands agility and a creative edge to compete in niche sectors in a way that big FMCG brands could not. With no requirement for platemaking
or minimum length of runs, and offering variability within the print run, digital print enabled unprecedented speed to market and the ability to mount a nimble response to seasonal opportunities and special events through the branded packaging platform. Variable designs and limited-edition packaging could see a small brand create cut-through with consumers at a level that was previously not possible.
“Previously, if you were a small producer of protein balls and you were looking for some flexible bags, you’d have to go to one of a few large packaging companies and buy 150 kilograms’ worth,” Read says.
“The language has changed. Thanks to digital printing, we can offer runs of 2000 pouches or less, and on top of that, we’re
Some years ago, café owner Abdul Bey started Chai Spice Beverages following a desire to bring a new chai offering to his own café, as well as seeing a gap in the market to supply other cafés.
“Every café had the same chai on offer. We had good food and coffee, but were serving a supermarket chai blend. My business partner soon changed
that, developed an artisan blend that centred on spices, and we packaged it to sell from café counters,” Bey says.
About four years ago the company approached Read Labels & Packaging. Its packaging was dated. The pouch was a simple kraft paper bag with a label stuck onto it. The catalyst to change the packaging, Bey relates, was the
high cost of buying bags and printing multiple labels for the different blends.
“Once we moved into printed bags, we found we could standardise our bag sizes, get a print run done with our variable SKUs all at the same time.
“We saved time and money because of that, and the process was so much easier,” he says.
The packaging has been instrumental in building the brand’s following.
“We did a test run with one of our customers with the old packaging and the new packaging. The new packaging has increased our sales three-fold.”
Customers embraced the new packaging, and, Bay says, the response was so positive to the colourful on-pack graphics that customers have been dressing up to match the packaging, with outfits posted on the company’s Instagram page @chai_spice_beverages.
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