Caffitaly discusses new packaging line collaboration with Cama Group and Opem

Cama Group

Caffitaly’s new packaging line collaboration with Cama Group and Opem is all about quality control throughout the production cycle and finding solutions to meet evolving customer needs.

To stand out in the increasingly crowded single-serve capsule space, roasters need to consistently source quality ingredients to make an outstanding cup of coffee. They also need to build a close partnership with those responsible for packaging their product in order to have control over the quality of product at each stage of production.

One company that intimately knows and lives this truism is single-serve coffee giant and single-service machine manufacturer Caffitaly, which produces 1.6 billion capsules annually. Over the past 18 months, it has teamed up with high-tech robotised packaging experts Cama Group in Lecco and capsule provider Opem in Parma to install a patented new recyclable capsule line at its plant in Bologna, Italy.

Federico Oneto, Caffitaly’s Executive Vice President of Product Supply says the company was on the hunt for packaging partners who could consistently deliver on two touch points: flexibility and speed.

Flexibility was a prerequisite in terms of delivering small, medium and large packaging for different configurations of capsules. Speed was critical in relation to having a swift feeding line changeover from one product to the next, and faster overall packaging production for a 24/7 production cycle with minimal bottlenecks.

“We may be producing packaging for 10 capsules in a tube, or 50 capsules in a box, for example,” Oneto says.

“Alternatively, we may be producing a square or rectangular box, with matt or gloss paper, with fold-out parts, or with a handle. We need to customise the packaging to make it stand out on the shelves from the competition. Also, our packaging needs can vary from one day to the next, so we need a sophisticated machine that can respond quickly to our needs. It needs to be a fast changeover, sometimes in the space of hours.”

The three-way collaboration between Caffitaly, Cama Group and Opem to create a new packaging line, which is set for production in May 2023, involves customising a scalable, fully recyclable and compostable capsule range. It even looks after the packaging and delivery of product, taking into account quality and supply reliability, in what has ultimately evolved into a one-stop-shop.

The new production line, which can produce 560 to 600 capsules per minute, is part of Caffitaly’s heavy investment in ongoing innovation to grow the brand, which now employs 450 staff at three factories in Italy, and one in southeastern Brazil.

Since Caffitaly was founded in 2004, it’s made inroads into 70 countries, supplying to the likes of Lavazza, Tchibo and 3 Corações. It continues to extend its brand presence around the world in the capsule market, accounting for three- quarters of its business internationally, and one- quarter domestically. Becoming an increasingly important part of its brand is Caffitaly’s ability to offer state-of-the-art technology packaging solutions on-site when requested by customers. As such, Caffitaly now commits to an annual investment of approximately €2.5 million (about US$28 million) in research and development.

To help Caffitaly evolve as a leader in the packaging marketplace, leading packaging company Cama Group supplies the company with robotics.

“We have a true partnership with Caffitaly, it’s a mutual exchange of information and a relationship built on previous experience as we’ve been partnering with them for over 20 years,” says Renato Dell’Oro, Global Account Manager, Coffee Industry, Cama Group.

“We use robotics that have machine-learning maintenance, and we give support training to Caffitaly to help prevent a bottleneck and ensure all the machinery is kept in good shape. We have a huge array of packaging styles across food, beverage, home, health, and pet food sectors: all shapes, all sizes, all counts, all flavours and all volumes.”

Dell’Oro says being agile is also key to maintaining market leadership, and this is where Cama shines in its offering.

“You need to act fast on delivering what the customer wants. Before the pandemic, customers would often book an order two or three months in advance. Whereas now, demand is picking up for packaging. Customers may book an order just two or three weeks in advance so there is a need for a much faster turnaround. We need to be more agile in when we get the product to customers,” Dell’Oro says.

He adds that Cama and Opem have been involved in many projects together, and over time, have become an extended family, offering complementary technologies, and seamless up- and down-stream integration with each other.

Mauro Martinengo, Commercial Director at Opem agrees, adding that its recent collaboration with Cama and Caffitaly on the new recyclable capsule production line has been “a wonderful opportunity” it is “proud and excited” to be part of.

“The market wants capsules that guarantee quality: that are properly sealed and therefore protected against heat and humidity to maintain aroma and freshness. We’ve been step-by-step testing the development of a recyclable capsule and trying out different materials. There is a patent on this machine. We need to maximise the efficiency of the line so the machine can run 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he says.

The challenge in producing the new line, Martinengo says, has been to work with a new capsule configuration and create capsules that are 100 per cent recyclable.

“The main goal of this project is to have less environmental impact by reducing the production of plastics. For Caffitaly, we must guarantee a certain number and quality. To have 24-hour efficiency of the line, we are at around 97 per cent efficiency. This is one of the main characteristics of this machine. This is a new product for Caffitaly and a very big opportunity,” Martinengo says.

Martinengo adds that recyclable capsules are a burgeoning market due to increased consumer demand, which rose during the global pandemic and has continued post-pandemic on the back of cost-of-living pressures.

“Interestingly, the trend for capsules is growing even more post pandemic because people are wanting cost savings by making single-serve coffee at home or in the office,” Martinengo says. “Also, capsules are very simple to use and people like the time-saving element – just switch on the machine and in 30 to 40 seconds, your coffee is ready. The capsule market has a growing product selection and the quality is improving, whether you want 100 per cent Arabica or decaffeinated and so on. Younger generations are now drinking more coffee, too, so that’s adding to the capsule trend.”

Cama Group’s Renato Dell’Oro adds that whatever the next stage in the development of recyclable capsule lines is, Cama will be ready to adapt.

“Recyclable capsules is, for the moment, a concept that could evolve in different ways. In any case, from a product handling and packaging point of view, Cama Group is ready for the incoming challenge,” he says. “Whether the new materials are super-fragile, or new special shapes are proposed to the market, we have the expertise and know how to preserve the products.”

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This article was first published in the May/June 2023 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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