The local retail market for coffee has skyrocketed – a welcome silver lining for those in the industry – but there have been challenges with packaging supply. Which is why The Bag Broker has come up with an innovative, sustainable and wholly localised solution: small batch bag printing. Already this has proved a hit with small-to-medium coffee enterprises including The Bean Cartel and Roasting Warehouse.
With an order of 20,000 customised coffee bags “out on the water”, Joe Molinaro was glad for the small batch print run he could secure with The Bag Broker as an interim measure.
“I ordered 1,000 bags as a backup and they turned it around within a week,” explains Joe, who is the founder and director of the Roasting Warehouse, a specialty coffee operation that has roastery cafés in Melbourne and Fremantle. “Since the small batch print runs have been an option, we’ve been using them as an emergency backup while waiting for larger shipments to come in.”
This is precisely the type of gap the small batch printing option is designed to solve.
“The customised bag packaging we predominantly offer to clients is manufactured in China, as the product is both high quality and cost-effective when ordered in bulk. However, the country is currently facing an electricity shortage,” elaborates Troy Bereau, Country Manager for The Bag Broker. “Due to power rationing, which has cut production times by a third, lead times for packaging have been pushed out from 8 to 12 weeks to about 12 to 16 weeks.”
Understanding the challenge posed by a 16 week wait – particularly in the coffee sector, where many businesses are diversifying their retail offering – Troy had the light bulb idea of offering smaller packaging print runs. The Bag Broker is now set up to provide these, with its own printing facility in Melbourne.
“The minimum order is one box of 500 bags, however, I don’t mind if that box is split – for example we can print 100 bags for five different blends, as long as the total adds up to a box of 500,” Troy expounds. “Whilst the artwork quality will not be the same as the packaging coming in from China, feedback from our customers has been very positive, particularly as we can turn the small batch print order around so quickly – in up to 2 weeks.”
Significantly, The Bag Broker can still offer recyclable bags that fit with the REDCycle criteria on the small print batch runs. These REDCycle bags can be deposited into the soft plastics bins at most major supermarket branches across Greater Melbourne.
“Many of our customers want to reduce their carbon footprint and are choosing sustainable packaging, so it’s been important for us to be able to provide the recyclable option with the small batch prints,” states Troy. “We are one of the few packaging suppliers in Australia providing a recyclable option with high barrier protection. This barrier protection maintains the freshness of the beans and gives our customers a competitive shelf life compared with those using other recyclable material.”
According to Joe, it’s this kind of innovation – coupled with an astute understanding of the challenges SMEs in the coffee retail space face – that sets The Bag Broker apart from other suppliers.
“We’ve actually been working with The Bag Broker for 15 months and on a variety of packaging projects. I feel there’s a synergy to our business and theirs in the sense that they have a ‘can do’ attitude about everything and are always open to new ideas or ways of doing something – they never say ‘no’, it’s always a ‘yes, we’ll try’,” enthuses Joe. “They’re nimble, understanding and have a small-to-medium business focus where service is personalised, not corporatised.”
Having the small batch printing option has also given the Roasting Warehouse more choices. They can now print their 11 different blends individually, rather than using stickers over the same black bag, and have also been able to print a small decaf product line. But for Joe – whose own business relies on both quality product and customer service – it comes down to what The Bag Broker delivers on those two fronts.
“The Bag Broker always deliver on time, and to the sample briefs. They are consistent on their quality,” he stresses. “More importantly, they provide amazing service and support. If I called Troy at 8pm in the evening, I know he would pick up – I can rely on that. What does this mean for the Roasting Warehouse? It makes life easier. It allows us to focus on other aspects of the business.”
Similarly, Stacy Visser, owner of The Bean Cartel – a roaster and distributor that also offers contract roasting to clients – comments that the service from The Bag Broker is second-to-none.
“Dealing with Troy at The Bag Broker has been amazing. He has been able to offer great flexibility, not only with our regular commercial kilo bag quantities, but also with small print bag runs,” he says. “The recent offering has been especially suited to lower volumes, such as limited edition or short run single origin offerings.”
Stacy cites Troy’s understanding of the coffee sector as a unique point of difference.
“We found working with Troy very easy, largely because of his ability to see and understand the challenges facing small-to-medium sized coffee businesses, even prior to COVID-19,” Stacy elaborates. “In the early days, Troy didn’t put pressure on us to commit to a minimum run of printed bags, in a short-defined period of time. Instead, we were able to come up with something that worked well for both of us. It allowed us to grow without impacting our cashflow.”
Moreover, having the small batch packaging option shows The Bag Broker’s ability to pivot and cater to the changing needs of the sector. This has particular import for the coffee segment, where businesses are having to reinvent or rethink their retail offering due to the pandemic restrictions.
“With a minimum order of just 500, the small batch prints are suited to a wide range of coffee retailers – whether that’s a startup business or a larger roaster wanting to do small runs of limited edition or single origin batches,” Troy concludes. “The process is very simple. I just need the image file of the bag label – and the specs for this are on our website – then I’ll print up a sample and send it across to the customer. Once that’s received, approved and a deposit made, we’ll print up the order and have it to the customer within 2 weeks.”
Interested to learn more about The Bag Broker small batch printing options? Go to: www.thebagbroker.com/au