With the barriers to branded packaging slowly coming down, it’s becoming a more viable option for independent fish and chip shops
Packaging that carries your shop’s identity helps increase the visibility of your brand beyond your shopfront and differentiates you from those businesses using plain packaging.
Branded packaging can also be particularly important if you’re a growing start-up as it can let customers know you are there and pitch your food as a quality offering. Items such as branded greaseproof paper, bags and napkins all help to elevate this further. If you look around at the large chains, they all use branded packaging and there’s a reason - because it works.
With the explosion on the high street of independent operators, many who are giving the chains a run for their money, packaging suppliers have seen the potential that smaller businesses have to offer and have adapted their offering to meet their demands and challenges.
Kem Gokay, director of trading at CP Packaging
is one of those. The London-based business started out stocking a range of products, but over time has moved away from those and now specialises in the design, manufacturing and sourcing of branded packaging, working with the likes of Poppies Fish & Chips in London.
Kem comments: “East London is a great example of the rise of the independents. You’ve got Costa Coffees and Starbucks actually shutting down and independent shops and cafes opening and fighting back. These people want to make a difference in their business and the fastest way to do that is to establish a brand and an identity that separates them from the next person on the high street.
“It’s got to a stage now where even independents can buy 1,000 coffee cups with their own brand on and set their mark on the high street. There’s a real shift into the branded packaging world as independents start to understand how important branding is.”
For a shop considering putting their own brand onto their packaging it’s often the costs - which are linked to production of printing plates - and order volumes that put them off.
Bristol-based packaging supplier Wyatt and Ackerman
has worked hard in bringing those costs down while offering a high quality product that will suit the demands of the fish and chip shop sector. Working with brands such as The Scallop Shell, The Crispy Cod and Simpsons to develop their branded packaging, MD Martyn Lewis, says it’s a natural progression for shops offering a quality product.
“A lot of our customers want to take the more upmarket route because they’ve got a good product and people are prepared to pay that little bit extra as well. So they are using their margins that way. Plus, I think the general public expect the packaging to be as good as the quality of the food they are serving.”
Martyn encourages shops to build the price into the cost of the meal or, alternatively, see the investment in terms of an advertising budget, adding: “In theory, if you’re paying 2p a box more on 10,000 boxes that’s £200. Where can you advertise for £200 these days?”
CP Packaging’s Kem Gokay is of the same opinion and says the switch to branded packaging is often an educational matter, explaining: “People ring us up and we always ask them what they are using now. They may be using polystyrene, so not only are they going to jump from polystyrene to paper, they want to jump from polystyrene to paper that also has their own brand on it. It’s about educating the customer that this isn’t polystyrene, it is paper and it will come at a premium, but let’s look at the returns. Let’s look at what other people have done. A branded bag is like a walking advertisement. When you’re invested in your brand, you’re investing in your business.”
With storage often a factor for independents, CP Packaging has been quick to offer a solution by working with shops’ existing suppliers. Kem explains. “We find a lot of independents have the volume and can meet the minimum order, but don’t have anywhere to stock items. With Poppies, we work with Masters, who distribute their food and potatoes, so we deliver to them, they have trucks on the road all the time delivering potatoes. It means Poppies never has to worry about storage or ever running out of packaging.”
If you’re still not sure about making the leap to bespoke branded packaging then there’s plenty of wholesalers who have their own lines which promote the brand of fish and chips T.Quality
, for example, offers the Trawler design and has just revised it Blue Fish line, The Q Partnership through Friars Pride
, VA Whitley
and Henry Colbeck
, offers The Hook & Fish range, Zan Fish Wholesale recently launched its Enjoy Packaging, while JJ Foodservice also offers a stock design. Because the print runs are larger, the costs tend to be cheaper than own label and can be a more viable option. What’s more, they are readily available with a range of pack sizes and products to choose from.
Theo Louca, managing and creative director at Rawww, which helped Zan Fish Wholesale
develop its Enjoy Packaging, comments: “It provides chippies with a more modern and consistent message and differentiates those with plain packaging. Ultimately bespoke branding is what every fish and chip shop should aim for, but as a step in the right direction, the Enjoy range provides a good value alternative.”
One of the widest own label ranges on the market is the Hook and Fish range from The Q Partnership, which covers everything from boxes and bags right through to chip forks and printed greaseproof. Providing chip shops with everything they need, it also offers flexibility as Louise Marshall, MD at Friars Pride, comments: “The variety of range means that shop owners can swap between packaging used within their business if they desire with the overall branding being unaffected. So perhaps wanting to use a certain type of packaging for deliveries and something different in the takeaway environment.”
Louise advises friers not to focus just on cost, but to try out any new products first. “Try it and ask yourself how does it work for the serving team at busy times? What do the customers think? Also, it gives testing to which lines really work best. The most popular choice is corrugated for own label, but this is no surprise as this is not the most expensive. However, what if that line doesn’t work for you? You could invest and it not work at all well. So really, before looking at prices, try out the packaging.”