27 January 2022
20 years of experience: Lareka’s key findings
Updated: 27 January 2022
As an expert in chocolate packaging, we want to share with you the most important information we have gained in over twenty years of developing chocolate wrapping machines for bars and tablets. In the end, we will also answer the ‘golden question’: “When is the right time to invest in an automated bar wrapper?”
Dare to be different!
To succeed in the highly competitive artisan and bean-to-bar chocolate market, make sure your product is distinctive. Yes, this can be done by either producing top-quality chocolate, using exclusive or single origin beans, unique flavor combinations or adding toppings.
However, the packaging is most often the only thing people see from your brand. Your chocolate could be phenomenal, but if your packaging does not stand out on the shelves, people will not be attracted to purchase your product. Product packaging has become more critical than ever. That is why we like to say that packaging should be the 5th P of marketing. It makes or breaks how your brand is positioned. ‘Good’ packaging is carefully designed and ‘matches’ your brand identity. Being distinctive is even more important. Looking at the packaging of some of our well-known BTB25-clients, they are all unique in their own way. Some achieve this by using bright colours, while others do so by using a minimalistic design in combination with details in gold. Though there is no such thing as a secret formula for good packaging, from our experience, we can conclude that being different pays off.
‘The right time to invest’
“What is the right time to invest in a chocolate wrapping machine?”, is the most frequently asked question we receive. The answer to this question lies in the cost of wrapping by hand, the production volumes, and the disadvantages of having/sourcing packaging employees. Please note that this information is all based on our experience and the discussions we have had with our artisan and bean-to-bar clients:
Given a situation of a bean-to-bar chocolate maker that produces 80,000 bars a year, the first problem this chocolate maker will face is finding enough employees to perform this labour-intensive task all year round. Consider that about 50% of chocolate sales happen in the last quarter of the year. That means that approx. 40,000 bars need to be made and wrapped in just 3 months. The time it takes to wrap a chocolate bar by hand is approximately 1 minute. In other words, wrapping 40,000 bars requires 2-3 packaging employees working full-time for 3 months. We have learned that finding full-time packaging employees is a challenging task, not to mention the extra temporary workers you need in the chocolate season. With the BTB25, just one operator is required. And with the capacity of wrapping 25 bars per minute, wrapping 40,000 bars can easily be done in a week.
The second issue is the cost of wrapping by hand. Again, wrapping a bar manually takes about 1 minute. In Western Europe, taking the average pay of a packaging employee, this translates into €0.50 per bar. Despite the common belief that wrapping by hand is cheaper than automated wrapping, the packaging for 80,000 bars costs you about €40,000. In the case of manual wrapping, higher demand increases personnel issues, costs and time, as you are limited to the capabilities and availability of packaging workers. With a machine, this amount can almost be done in a week. This simple example shows that delays in investment can cost you a fortune. The payback in the case of 80,000 bars a year is already interesting - imagine this payback with yearly volumes of 1 million bars or higher…
Whenever the time is right, choose a supplier that can guide you through every step in the transition to automated packaging. Find a supplier that can advise you on the bar, packaging design and dimensions, who can install the machine on location, train your operators, and provide support in case of machine downtime. If you are making more than just one product, purchase a machine that allows size changes to be made quickly and easily. And finally, please be sure to invest in a wrapping machine that conforms with all hygiene and safety measures.
Whether this is the right time for you to invest in a chocolate wrapping machine, or if you are considering a bold step toward the future, please feel free to get in touch with Lareka. We can answer all your questions related to packaging machines, (sustainable) materials, suppliers, trends, and more!