Future looks lively for Durban co-packer Westpack
Since its inception in 2007, Westpack has gained a reputation as a responsible and growing outsource
company and acquired a list of blue-chip FMCG customers for whom it co-packs dry food ingredients. [See earlier article on Westpack]
Westpack is driven by co-owners Neil Walker, Gillian Cave and Paul Saad. Neil, with 30 years experience in the FMCG industry, is in charge of the supply chain, while Gillian, a microbiologist, manages matters related to quality assurance, hygiene and training. Paul, the financial guru, doubles up as MD of Future Life, developer of South Africa's immune-boosting energy cereal and a range of natural supplements and tonics. The cereal is creating a stir in the retail market [see Clives Column, Feb 2010] having recently been awarded "Launch Brand of the Year 2009" by Shoprite Checkers, KZN.
"Although its a brand in its own right, Future Life is very much a part of Westpack. All the directors of Westpack are involved in Future Life's development and progress," stresses Gillian. "We're passionate about Future Life and what it stands for. Having seen the time spent by Paul, researching and building its profile, were delighted at its achievements."
An impressive brand logo and carton design, developed by Paul Saad in collaboration with agency, Outlook Orange gives Future Life strong on-shelf presence in retail outlets. The 500g carton has a cleverly-designed side panel thats printed with tips for healthy living.
The carton is manufactured and printed by Golden Era, using Mondi cartonboard. The construction is a new concept for Future Life and the six-colour print is achieved using inks by Coates Brothers on a lithographic press. The 50g sachets are gravure printed on a Cerutti press by Packaging World, Pinetown, using a 45g/m2 paper/15µm PE/7µm aluminium foil/adhesive/25µm PE. Inks used are from Flint Group (Europe).
Quality, technology and skills boost
At the beginning of each job at Westpack, a shift log is produced on which line staff record product type, date and time of packing, shift from start to finish, with shelf-life and best-before dates recorded on each pack. This facilitates traceability in the event of any future quality query.
Product samples are randomly picked during each shift, to test for weight consistency and pack quality. Five sample packs are checked every 15 minutes to ensure consistency; and one sample is despatched to the customer for in-house quality checks. Only once a batch is approved by the customer is it ready for release.
Westpack's operation boasts two Ishida checkweighers, two ribbon blenders, five horizontal and five vertical form-fill-seal machines, as well as end-of-line equipment for gluing, cartoning and shrinkwrapping.
Its horizontal Enflex F-17 model, for instance, is designed to manufacture pouches with a membrane for packing two products, a line of business that Westpack focuses on primarily for the European market.
Westpack takes enormous pride in its quality and service to both customers and staff. Most employees have been with the company since inception and every staff member participates in weekly quality and food safety training, conducted by an outside consultant.
When it comes to quality standards and food regulations, Westpack is achieving its accreditation goals, ensuring it has all the right ingredients to satisfy customers, for instance, the operation is Halaal certified and a dedicated Kosher packing line will shortly be in place.
Gillian (left) and the entire team place the utmost emphasis on hygiene and food safety. The company is HACCP certified and its ISO 9001 2008 certification is pending, following a final audit this month. Once this is achieved, the next step is preparing for ISO 22000 certification.
"Our customers carry out periodic audits, as we must meet international standards," explains Gillian. "But the good thing is we've always known what we want to achieve - we haven't waited for customers to ask."
The company's headquarters in New Germany provides an impressive facility for storage and production. However, as more blue-chip customers realise Westpack's impressive capabilities, the company will soon need to enlarge its operating space.
At Westpack food safety and consistent work practices are essential. It's the companys relationships with both customers and staff that are solidifying its reputation in a highly competitive environment. With Westpack securing lucrative packing contracts with the likes of Unilever and new kid on the block, Future Life, it projects a confidence in its own abilities and strengths in the FMCG sector - a formidable partner for any multinational organisation.
Westpack; T 031 7053329