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Amy Foods Eliminates Downtime & Reduces Time to Market with New Multivac Packaging System

Mon, 08/05/2002 - 10:05am
Specialty Asian Foods Supplier Develops Packages with High-Impact Branding to Gain in Lucrative Retail Market

Amy Foods, Inc., a supplier of specialty Asian appetizers and prepared entrees for food service markets, sought to strengthen its foothold in the lucrative retail sector. Demand was growing among supermarkets and convenience stores for premium, centrally processed Asian foods that eliminate the need for preparation at the store level. Amy saw an opportunity to meet this need with its pre-prepared, gourmet lines of egg rolls and meal kits - including rice bowls, party platters and stir-fry cups.

Strengthening its commitment to this growing segment of its business required a packaging system that could accommodate a major increase in productivity to meet high order volumes from mass merchandisers. In addition, packages for the retail channel - as opposed to food service - would have to deliver high-impact branding and strong aesthetic appeal to drive point-of-purchase sales. Amy Foods needed to accomplish all of this while keeping production costs to a minimum, because it had to ensure its products could be priced competitively at the retail level.

Amy Foods turned to Kansas City-based Multivac, Inc. for a high-capacity rollstock packaging system (the R530) capable of producing high quality packages appropriate for the specific requirements of both its existing business and its new target markets. The customized R530 rollstock generated Multivac Packs™ that stand out on store shelves and maintain freshness and seal integrity. The unparalleled efficiency of the equipment kept material waste in check and virtually eliminated production downtime, enabling Amy Foods to shrink order-to-delivery lead-time and increase overall sales volume.

"Our primary business goal for the foreseeable future is to grow our retail business for deli and home meal solutions and other premium Asian foods. Sales have been brisk in the past six months, and we've been able to meet our increasing order volume with our high-capacity packaging system from Multivac," says Phyllis Hsu, president of Amy Foods.

 

From Small Local Vendor To National Supplier

Founded as a family business in Houston, Amy Foods began as a high-quality, low-cost producer of egg rolls, pot stickers (wontons), sushi and a variety of meal solutions. Beginning with an emphasis on local food service accounts, within a few years the company was ready to begin making large capital investments to support aggressive growth plans.

One of its earliest investments was in a packaging solution from Multivac. The system quickly yielded significant ROI, enabling Amy Foods to develop profitable new product lines such as pot stickers, meat and vegetable dumplings, and meal solutions.

"We first turned to Multivac in the early eighties because we needed a reliable vendor who could provide us with the capabilities to take us to the next level," says Hsu. "They helped us expand from a small, local vendor into a national supplier filling large contracts with major customers in the catering and public school sectors."

 

Expanding Into Lucrative New Markets

While busy with a booming food service business, Ms. Hsu recently recognized a latent retail demand for specialty, pre-prepared Asian snacks and meals. New packaging concepts enabled foods to be placed in freestanding refrigerated pouches near pizzas, pastas and deli products, rather than in supermarket freezer coffin cases. This presented a unique opportunity for Amy Foods to reach new customers with its existing product lines.

To take advantage of this opportunity, Amy Foods turned once again to Multivac to upgrade its production capabilities. They sought a high-capacity system capable of generating large volumes of premium, value-added, extended shelf life packaging that allows for high-impact branding.

"Shelf life, visual appeal and price are the most important attributes of refrigerated foods sold at retail. With the Multivac rollstock system, we're able to guarantee consistently superior taste and quality. We're also able to generate cost-effective packages that enhance the presentation of the product, conveying a crisp, clear image of freshness that is so important to consumers."

After consulting with Amy Foods about their aggressive business goals, Multivac customized the R530 rollstock to design a packaging system that was tailored to their needs for capacity, efficiency, shelf life and branding.

Amy intended to devote the rollstock system to packaging its egg rolls. They would be sold in a number of different varieties to satisfy diverse consumer tastes, with fillings that would include vegetables, meat, fruit and dairy products. Multivac worked with Amy to design a modified atmosphere package that includes four egg rolls in a thermoformed tray accompanied by four individual packets of sauce for maximum consumer convenience. The tray is covered with a clear top film and a simple adhered label, conveying the look of clarity and freshness that Amy sought, along with a brand message of premium quality.

 

Achieving Success With New Packaging System

Plant operations personnel quickly adapted to the new system, finding the R530 to be very sophisticated and user-friendly.

With the greater efficiency and capacity of the R530, the company has been able to take on the high order volumes that mass merchandisers have started sending their way. "Downtime has been virtually eliminated," says Hsu, "because the Multivac is more consistent and reliable than what we had before. It is built in a more robust fashion and takes more abuse" than other equipment.

Enhanced productivity has reduced order-to-delivery lead-time to ten days, below the industry standard. "With greater production uptime, we can accept significantly more orders with the confidence of knowing we can fill them on time, with a high level of consistency in product quality."

The package design has been a success, as well, helping Amy Foods to establish a brand identity associated with premium quality, freshness and convenience. Today, the company enjoys a thriving business, continuing to serve its long-standing food service customers while responding to the distinct challenges of the retail marketplace with fresh, innovative packaging concepts.

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