Smart Coffee provide the smart option

Having worked in the fast-moving consumer goods industry for many years, Smart Coffee’s new Owner and Managing Director Wesley Lawrence has become very familiar with the needs of retailers and consumers. However, he tells GCR Magazine, he has often seen those needs go unfulfilled as other companies structure their offerings more to suit their own businesses than those of their customers. It is this way of doing business that Lawrence hopes to disrupt with Smart Coffee, offering a range of solutions that are focused on fulfilling the needs of the customers and retailers that are consuming the product, rather than the companies that are producing them. With its head office in Australia and a manufacturing base in Europe and Asia, Smart Coffee is focused on providing agile and responsive solutions to their consumers’ needs, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach adopted by many large producers, Lawrence says. “Lots of what we do is hand packed, which means we are very nimble in terms of packaging sizes and styles,” he says.
“Other larger players tend to have a fixed box shape and size, because that’s what their very expensive machinery requires. We design our packaging, or the packaging for our customers, however we like – it doesn’t have to fit in any particular machinery.” While Smart Coffee has its own range of branded products including capsules and machines, the company also works with other clients to provide private label solutions for their businesses. Smart Coffee is part of a group with distribution into the UK, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, the Asia Pacific and the Americas, and ranging in many major international chains. The company has a manufacturing capacity of more than 20 million capsules per month, meaning it can cater for producers requiring considerable volumes on a consistent basis. That said, Smart Coffee’s focus is not just limited to the larger players, Lawrence adds. “We have a variety of sizes of machinery that enable us to do smaller production runs, and also be very efficient on volume production so that we can be responsive to whatever our customer needs,” he says. One of the key advantages that Smart Coffee has to offer is that it is one of the first companies in the world to produce hermetically sealed as well as foil sealed capsules for three main platforms – Nespresso, Dulce Gusto and Lavazza A Modo Mio – giving customers a great deal of flexibility when choosing the products that best suit their needs. “We can do hermetically sealed capsules or we can do foil wrapped. We can pack boxes with however many capsules we like – five or 10 or 100,” Lawrence says. “With each individual customer, we can develop something that is most efficient for their particular shelf size.” Lawrence says the hermetically sealed capsules offer customers the greatest level of flexibility and efficiency. “It makes a significant difference from a logistics and supply chain perspective because it’s basically half the volume,” he says. Eliminating the need for a foil wrapping to lock in freshness, the hermetically sealed capsules provide space savings of up to 250 per cent on the shelf, with a box of 10 capsules taking up the same space as a box of four in the foil sealed packaging. “It also fits more neatly with the consumer behaviour with a Nespresso capsule, insofar as they can put it in a bowl, or put it in a tray or a rack. You can do that with a sealed capsule, whereas you can’t do that with a foil wrapped product,” Lawrence says. Then there are the benefits of a superior product due to the capsules’ ability to seal in the freshness of the coffee more effectively, Lawrence says. Smart Coffee’s own branded range of capsules offers a full complement of flavour options similar to that offered by Nespresso. The company is just about to release an intensity 12 blend called the Stelvio, named after the Passo dello Stelvio, one of the most challenging climbs frequented by the Giro d’Italia Bicycle race. “I am a keen cyclist,” Lawrence adds, “and whether it is tackling the Alps as I hope to do soon, or just a local weekend ride, I am a big fan of having a strong brew to improve one’s intestinal fortitude!” All of these capsules are hermetically sealed, meaning no extra foil packaging and an improved freshness and extraction quality. Smart Coffee’s capsules each have a volume of 5.5 grams of coffee, a 10 per cent increase on the five grams offered in traditional Nespresso capsules, offering consumers more flavour and intensity in the cup. In addition to the capsules, Smart Coffee offers a full range of its own Nespresso-compatible capsule machines, including the new Attivo, which is perfect for the hotel room, home or small office. Available in a range of four colours, the Attivo has Italian made parts and is small, light and very robust. Also in the machine range is the Il Gemello, a double-barreled commercial or large office machine that can also be used in cafés and small bars and also in large offices needing to provide coffee to a large number of people in a short time. While Smart Coffee’s reach is global and the company already has a presence in the UK and European markets, Lawrence says he is now intent on capturing other markets. “We’re really focused on the newer markets such as the Middle East, North Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia,” he says. Lawrence tells GCR that given the people in these markets are still emerging as coffee consumers, habits are not yet fixed, giving rise to greater opportunity for a new entrant like Smart Coffee. “The demands are changing there very quickly, and the consumers and retailers are still very much in expansionary phase in those markets,” he says. “There’s room for an operator who can be nimble and change with the demands of the market.” While the opening of the capsule market in the past five years has meant the industry has been flooded by new entrants, this has not always been to the benefit of the consumer, Lawrence says. “In the capsule space there are a lot of producers looking to get in quick and smash the price down as cheap as possible and capture some one-off sales,” he says. “We prefer to build a sustainable relationship with our customers and delivery a quality of experience for the end consumer.” GCR

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