The 125-year old confectionery company, based in Lexington, North Carolina, decided to make the investment after a seeing a demand for smaller, bite-size unwrapped candy in resealable pouches.
Mini puff candy line
The launch is part of its Red Bird brand of soft peppermint puffs and old-fashioned stick peppermint products.
Nick Lockhart, operations manager, Piedmont Candy, told ConfectioneryNews, after analyzing market trend data and consumer research, it decided to enter a new market category with a mini puff candy line.
“The mini puffs all have the same domestically sourced peppermint oil and 100% pure cane sugar as the company’s other Red Bird candy,” he said.
“The difference is the smaller size of the puffs and the minis are packaged individually unwrapped in 6 and 12 ounce resealable (zippered) gusseted pouches.
“The mini puffs/pouch combination is aimed at the premium shelves in candy aisles. It is also available as a gift box.”
Since the company was not using pouches for any of its products, a whole new packaging line had to be created. The operations team contacted its form-fill-seal bagging machine supplier, Matrix Packaging Machinery, in Wisconsin, a Pro Mach business, to find out which pouch filler/sealer would be the best one for the line and overall plant environment.
Toyo Jidoki TT-8D-N premade pouch filler/sealer
It recommended a Toyo Jidoki TT-8D-N premade pouch filler/sealer, because it enables the company to use 4 x 6 and 5 x 8 inch gusseted zipper pouches, and Piedmont can add new pouch sizes at a later date.
It also pre-programmed various package sizes to make it easier in the future for the plant to incorporate new pouches into the product mix.
“We have a great working relationship with Matrix, know the quality of its products, and its exceptional service and support, so we were confident personnel there could help us meet our packaging challenge,” added Lockhart.
Matrix worked with Piedmont Candy’s pouch supplier to ensure the pouch material would run smoothly on the Toyo Jidoki.
Unwrapped mini puffs travel in bulk on an incline conveyor to a set of Yamato scales located on top of the Toyo Jidoki TT-8D-N. This unit fills and seals 30 premade pouches per minute.
The sealed pouches then travel via conveyor to a turntable where employees manually erect shipping cases and hand pack the pouches in counts of either 12 or 24, depending on the size of the pouch.
“Matrix technicians were able to install the Toyo Jidoki and train our machine operators within five days,” said Lockhart.
“We immediately found changeovers between pouch sizes were easy and only took about 60 seconds. This gives us a lot of flexibility to meet customer orders, not to mention optimum uptime.”
Piedmont also worked with its graphic design partners to develop an eye-catching package that conveyed the brand image of a traditional candy made with premium ingredients.
The final design featured a craft paper pouch with clear window to display the mini-puffs.
Piedmont private labels its products for major retailers, including sugar candies, puffs, and sticks. The confectionery company owns a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and a 100,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in Lexington.
Under its in-house Red Bird brand, it sells peppermint, cinnamon, lemon, orange, strawberry, vanilla, passion fruit and other assorted flavors of puffs, and old-fashioned four-inch candy sticks in peppermint, vanilla, lemon, and cinnamon flavors.