For most people, every day is sandwich day. But as the country celebrates its favourite form of fast food this week, British heat sealing specialist Soken Engineering takes a look at the trends driving sandwich packing and production in operations of all sizes.
With over 3 billion sandwiches purchased from UK retailers and catering outlets annually, it seems that our love of the humble and portable sarnie is well and truly back on track. Employing more than 300,000 people – more incidentally than our nation’s agricultural industry – like many manufacturing sectors, maintaining output to meet demand while balancing labour shortages with food price increases, continues to impact even the most robust sandwich production models.
Soken spokesperson Stephen Hawes examines these challenges in more detail, focusing on why extending sandwich and food-to-go freshness to reduce preventable food waste has become even more imperative.
Making sandwiches on site optimises their freshness and extends their lifespan. Another benefit is it enables caterers to be more reactive to ingredient shortages and source alternatives. It also helps to optimise quality control, for example monitoring filling ratios in person. A factor that Soken has observed in the independent cafes, coffee shops and garden centres that are big advocates of Soken’s multi-purpose two-cavity or four-cavity heat sealing machines.
Anecdotally, these independents are the customers who have reported record demand for sandwiches and wraps. In the last 6 months, Soken (part of Hampshire-based Jenton International) has also observed at least a 20% increase in demand for sandwich and wrap packaging.
In commercially produced sandwiches, chicken may be the most popular filling, yet Stephen says that artisan, rustic and sandwiches that look homemade are often the biggest sellers in leisure and hospitality venues. Quality of ingredients, fresh appearance, affordable, convenient, recyclable packaging and clearly labelled, are what influence consumer purchasing decisions most.
“Helping to reduce waste is a key priority for food suppliers of all sizes. If catering outlets and vendors can extend the shelf life by even a day using tamper evident heat sealed packaging, this makes a significant difference to food waste as well as operating profits,” reiterates Stephen.
Ireland-based Brunch Box describes their six Soken heat sealing machines as fab pieces of kit. Credited with being the first fresh food-to-go supplier in the Dublin area, now Brunch Box is successfully competing with much larger sandwich players in the market. Shelf life, presentation, the level of detail that goes into every hand-packed product is what sets this SME apart.
As a result of the effective heat seal, sandwiches packed on the Soken machine could technical have a five-day shelf life. Something that surprised yet was independently verified by the Irish company’s HSE inspector.
Having trialled several other manufacturers sandwich packing systems over the years, Brunch Box’s Sales Director David Masters says that Soken machinery is “hands down the best” for efficiency and for delivering sandwich freshness to consumers.
Leeds-based Sandwich King is equally complementary about their two automated linear sandwich and food-to-go Soken heat sealing systems. For a seven-day-a-week STS-accredited manufacturer of Sandwich King’s eminence, seal quality, presentation and machine reliability are equally important considerations.
With a heat sealing range comprising compact table top units to linear machines capable of sealing thousands of packs per hour, Soken really does have its finger on the emerging sandwich packaging trends. The Hampshire-business is now launching a Modified Atmosphere Packaging machine to this extensive line-up, helping to further extend sandwich