Hungry? You will be.
Likely, you will reach for something small to satisfy your hunger – even if it means replacing your meals to do it. That’s no accident.
Snackers in the U.S. have turned their indulgences into a lifestyle in 2023, often opting for smaller food experiences to taste bold flavors, satisfy their hunger on the go, or obtain some functional benefit to adhere to healthier living.
According to Mintel’s “Snacking Motivations & Attitudes” report, 95% of adults in the United States now snack once a day, 70% snack two or more times, and the most dedicated food fanatics, lovingly dubbed “super snackers,” make up a staggering 49% of the population, snacking THREE or more times per day (8% increase from 2 years ago).
AMERICAN LIFESTYLE HABITS TURNED SNACKING TRENDS
The reasons for the uptick in American snacking are as varied as the bite-sized morsels they reach for. They run the gamut of everything from premium flavor and quality to convenience and high protein content.
Almost half of all consumers (48%) questioned by Circana claimed they look for multi/variety packs to try new things. Nearly two-thirds (61%) claimed it was correct portion control that keeps them away from the table and snacking in and out of the house – with 2.5-2.7oz snack packs reigning supreme as the ideal size to satisfy their needs.
CORE SNACKS AT THE HEART OF CONSISTENT SALES
Whatever their reasons, snack sales in convenience and retail stores across the country exploded by nearly 12% in 2022, accounting for nearly $58.7 billion in sales, according to data from IRI and 210 Analytics.
Unsurprisingly, core snacks, such as cheese (14.3%), cookies (11.5%), and crackers (12.8%), were among the tried-and-true drivers of America’s renewed “snackification.” These options accounted for the lion’s share of the 4.5% year-over-year growth in the snack sector, leading to millions of dollars in sales across each snack sub-category and inelastic high demand despite higher prices.
PRICE LINE DRAWN IN THE SAND
However, as children return to school and sports with packed snacks, adults bring meals back to the office, and snacks continue to outpace all other forms of food and beverage, a giant green elephant has emerged to somewhat stifle snacking’s success.
Ongoing inflation has American consumers concerned that their favorite options may be set beyond their reach if the price tag proves too much. This continuous concern is so severe that data shows 72% of consumers now look at price before choosing their snacks, and 25% will buy snacks on sale rather than their favorite brands.
Market researchers fear Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs) companies may have gone too far, pushed the price button a few too many times, and may be causing a continual decline in both tray seal units and volume for snacks in 2023 (33 % of customers buying from lower-priced merchants).
While sales were strong over the past year, this continual decline could be catastrophic for CPG revenues, dropping snack growth below total food and beverage (sales have fallen faster than total food and beverage since the end of March 2023).
NO PRICE HIKES. NOW WHAT?
Without price increases to drive snack sales revenue, the mission for producers becomes less straightforward: get consumers to buy more snacks, up their frequency, and get better distribution – all while finding the right intersection of quality, convenience, and tray seal package size to create attractive overall value.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Yet, the same market experts reporting the alarming trends in consumer snack spend also have some thoughts on achieving growth even in trying economic times.
Variety, portion control, and healthy food options will be the key to future ongoing snack sales success. Above all else, they say, snack producers will need to get creative to drive sales and revenue without raising prices to counterbalance the higher cost of doing business.
HOW TO HIT PRODUCTION HIGH NOTES THROUGH TRAY SEAL PACKAGING INNOVATION
As a producer in the snack sector, reliance on factors other than elevated pricing means only one thing: product, process, and manufacturing innovation.
Looking inward at your snack packaging line and manufacturing process can yield surprising savings to augment overall sales, help you avoid revenue declines, and optimize critical operational metrics like efficiency, productivity, and minimal physical footprint and plant space (for higher savings).
In a sector where the packaging application of choice for most snack packagers is high-speed tray sealing, this innovation comes in the form of technological advancement from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Opting for applications designed to optimize and future-proof your snack packaging production can save you more, reduce requirements, and still achieve the requisite (and improved) return on investment (ROI) over time.
Enter the groundbreaking Mondini Trave Sinfonia®.
THE TRAVE SINFONIA: A SYMPHONY OF EFFICIENCY, PRODUCTIVITY & PROFITS
The first of its kind, the revolutionary Sinfonia tray seal system allows you to dramatically increase packaging throughput via precision control of the loading, sealing, and unloading process, requiring minimal labor and utilizing a state-of-the-art software-controlled magnetic track system and “nest” configuration.
Agile, versatile, and fully automated, this groundbreaking achievement is manufactured for a single purpose: to realize unparalleled tray seal efficiency, productivity, and cost savings in high-speed snack production.
So how is it that one piece of equipment has the capabilities to stand as the tray seal packaging savior for dollar-deprived CPGs in a now highly inflated and scrutinized snack space?
The Sinfonia tray sealer delivers peak performance and unmatched results across three critical parameters that are essential for snack producers with operations of any size:
TRANSFORMING DIGITAL PRECISION & REAL-WORLD EFFICIENCY INTO REVENUE
Conventional tray sealers package snack product in a linear, sequential process wherein the slowest or least efficient point dictates the entire system’s speed and efficiency. This is often the leading cause of significant inefficiencies across various packaging stages.
Conversely, the Sinfonia tray seal system utilizes an innovative magnetic rail and track system to transport and load independent trolleys, called “nests,” to individual, automated loading stations along a custom-configured packaging line.
Programmable software digitally interfaces with each shuttle, providing customized control and pinpoint accuracy of each nest’s motion, acceleration, position (within 10 microns), loading cadence, velocity, and timing at all packaging sequences – wholly negating traditional efficiency constraints.
Sounds impressive. But how does this new process translate to improved efficiency and, more importantly, dollars and cents?
This innovation optimizes your tray seal system’s efficiency at multiple intervals:
- Independent Loading Control: The new loading process never relies on a linear sequence, creating an enormous boost in tray seal efficiency, as each nest can move to the loading station when needed and available, loading intermittently or continuously.
- Digital Accuracy & Frictionless Transfer Points: The Sinfonia tray sealer communicates the trays’ exact position and speed on the packaging line digitally, eliminating the need for inefficient ancillary equipment and transfer points, such as traditional infeed and outfeed belts, guides, pacers, pusher arms, conveyors, vision systems, and indexing sensors.
- Minimal Downtime & Increased Production: The Sinfonia eliminates the loading sequence recalibration necessary (after shutdown) to ensure proper tray indexing and constant run speed. All robotic loading works in tandem to equalize every packaging process, reducing costly downtimes (up to $260,000 per hour), allowing for faster or slower run times depending on available stations, and even additional production with faster, more constant speeds at different packaging intervals.
STRIKING THE RIGHT CHORD TO DOUBLE POTENTIAL TRAY SEAL PACKAGING OUTPUT
Additional production? Yes. Pick a throughput rate.
The Sinfonia’s varying production speeds, Smartconnected digital controls, and autonomous loading capabilities FULLY REMOVE THE CAP on tray seal product output.
Moving away from a linear packaging line and synchronizing multiple automated loading stations allows you to continuously produce snack trays at higher speeds with greater precision and fewer stoppages across every cycle.
The increased production sounds ideal for projected sales and annual revenue growth. But what do the numbers say?
Though only recently unveiled at Interpack in May of 2023, experts predict that the Sinfonia tray sealer could DOUBLE snack production once fully integrated, with numbers ranging well into 500 products per minute (ppm) on average (with previous applications reaching an avg. of 250ppm), depending on project context and product parameters.
MAXIMIZED SAVINGS IN MINIMAL SPACE
The Sinfonia is the largest tray seal system in the world. With a 1500mm long tooling footprint and 1.5-meter-long tooling area, it can deliver over 33,000 pounds of sealing pressure when packaging tray sealed product.
Yet, one of its most attractive attributes is delivering unmatched throughput and efficiency in a compact form, requiring minimal facility space and manual interaction.
How can this be?
The key benefits – such as the Sinfonia’s minimal footprint – stem from its intrinsic, innovative design. Previously, linear production limited how lines could be arranged inside a facility and the number of executed processes based on the longest linear run.
The Sinfonia veers off the straight and narrow to carve out its own custom production path – facilitating 90-degree angles and even creating separate feeding loops to maximize ergonomics and minimize required space.
This circular production pathing, and the Sinfonia’s shortened sealer (integrated into the track system using the nests as the bottom tooling), eliminates the need for laning, ancillary equipment, AND the physical flooring space associated with traditional tray seal setups.
DEMAND TO DOLLARS: HARMONIZING TRAY SEAL INNOVATION FOR THE FUTURE OF THE PROFITABLE SNACK PRODUCTION
Consumers are increasing their snacking frequency to multiple times per day and choosing familiar core snack options to satisfy their needs. As a producer in the snack space, you can capitalize on meteoric demand to achieve higher sales revenues, but you must rely on other avenues than inflated prices to keep from alienating an already price-conscious consumer base.
Integrating leading-edge tray seal technology, such as the Trave Sinfonia, optimizes snack production and processes. It allows you to perfect your high-volume efficiency and increase cost-savings while keeping product costs to a minimum and producing the indulgent options your customers crave.
Enhancing your overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and realizing profits through process innovation begins with a single step.
Contact the experts at Harpak-ULMA and let us show you the technology you need to be on the path to true snack packaging success.