King of the Grill
Grilling cheese manufacturer accelerates its market share gains with highly robust and reliable thermoform packaging technology
What first began as a casual meeting between a plethora of different Lebanese traders of Montreal and a group of dairy producers in the region, soon lead to the birth of the Saint Robert, Que.-based Mediterranean cheese manufacturer La Fromagerie Polyethnique Inc.
Since their humble beginnings over 25 years ago, Fromagerie Polyethnique has expanded to a striking 60,000-square-foot facility with 75-employees working on a five-days-a-week schedule throughout most of the year.
Their revered Le Bedouin brand has taken off thanks to their wide offerings of Mediterranean cheese products, which include ready-to-eat labneh, haloumi, nabulsi, akawie and varied yogurt and milk products.
While their Le Bedouin brand can be found on grocery store shelves across Quebec in the likes of Metro and Sobeys IGA, Fromagerie Polyethnique also accommodates to a wide array of private-label customers across Canada.
According to Yves Lambert, Fromagerie Polyethnique’s general manager, the company’s mission is concentrated on further developing and producing dairy products for ethnic communities living in North America.
While the cheese industry as a whole may seem like a competitive and daunting business, Lambert is not worried about Fromagerie Polyethnique’s place in the Mediterranean and grilling cheese space.
“In the grilling cheese market, we are the major player,” Lambert confidently told Canadian Packaging in a recent interview.
“The other, smaller Lebanese cheese companies do not go all across Canada and do not have the premium products like we have.”
To guarantee that the facility is manufacturing fresh and high quality products, Fromagerie Polyethnique relies heavily on their high standards of excellence and on the respect of manufacturing traditions.
Fromagerie Polyethnique proudly shows off their commitment to manufacturing high quality products thanks to their FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification), which is recognized by the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative).
While the company has seen an impressive seven-percent increase per year, it soon became evident to Lambert and Fromagerie Polyethnique’s project manager Camille Salvas that their production facility also needed to see a substantial upsurge.
“Previously, we were using a manual packaging machine to pack all of our grilling cheese,” Salvas explains.
“With the increase of the company, it was essential for us to also increase our efficiency in the packaging department.”
When the time came to look for a steadfast and reliable company to purchase a machine from, Fromagerie Polyethnique did not have to look much further than the Canadian vacuum packaging manufacturer Sipromac, who has been a supplier of theirs for quite some time.
André Francoeur, sales director for Sipromac, also agreed that it was the perfect time for Fromagerie Polyethnique to invest in more automated and consistent machinery for their production facility.
“We are the best company for small to medium size processing plants,” Francoeur says. “We can partner with these businesses and follow their growth.
“We can start them off with smaller machines like a single or double chamber and as the business grows, we are then able to support them with larger capacity machines, up to the thermoformer, like we did with Polyethnique.
Adds Francoeur: “This investment was part of their business decision.”
To guarantee the best results for their cheese products, Fromagerie Polyethnique purchased a state-of-the-art TM-050 thermoforming machine from Sipromac, which was promptly installed at their plant in April of 2019.
Ideal for production where efficiency and speed are the much-desired result, the TM-050 components are also corrosion-proof and their design allows for simple and easy maintenance in order to meet the strictest hygiene standards.
“This thermoforming machine increases productivity and also removes some of the manual labor required for the packaging,” shares Francoeur.
Francoeur also explains that the TM-050 has received praise and acclaim from customers for its user-friendly interfaces and solid construction, which will without a doubt last for decades.
In addition, Sipromac parts for the machines are easy to find in comparison to overseas models.
Before officially purchasing the TM-050, Sipromac invited Lambert, Salvas and their production team to their facility to see how the TM-050 packages the cheese products and how all of the different components work to ensure that the TM-050 was the right fit for their facility.
In the eyes of Lambert and Salvas, being able to preview the TM-050 showed them how much Sipromac was willing to go above and beyond for their business.
“We arrived at their access facility with our cheese products,” Salvas recounts fondly.
“They gave us the opportunity to look at the packaging and to see that all of the equipment was working.
Adds Salvas: “We could see the equipment running before we actually brought it into our facility, so we really appreciated that they allowed us to do that.”
The TM-050 has proven to be advantageous to Fromagerie Polyethnique, especially when they have high volumes of cheese product and need to increase the speed.
Thanks to the TM-050, Fromagerie Polyethnique workers also have the ability to put the cheese products into film, where the TM-050 then promptly forms the pouch around the cheese, and vacuum seals the product.
Akin to Fromagerie Polyethnique, Sipromac also ensures that their thermoformers play a big part in making sure that the cheese products are fresh and safe for consumption.
“We make sure that the quality of the vacuum and the seal are optimal to offer the longest shelf-life and insure food safety,” Francoeur explains.
“Because if the seal is not well done, then there are risks for consumers.
Concludes Francoeur: “We want our customers to be able to get the best return on their investment and it’s often related to the shelf-life.”
Thanks to Sipromac’s commitment to food safety and state-of-the-art machines, Fromagerie Polyethnique is reaping the benefits of the machine’s full capabilities.
“Fromagerie Polyethnique is not using the thermoformer up to full capacity yet because the TM-050 just goes so fast,” Francoeur extols.
“Now with the thermoformer, the workers can just look away and the product is packaged.”
Lambert has been so happy with the performance of the TM 050 thus far that he has shared that Fromagerie Polyethnique is even looking at buying a second machine for the future.
Naturally, Fromagerie Polyethnique would be making that purchase from Sipromac again.
“It is really important for us to have a Canadian supplier,” Lambert explains.
“Sipromac works with us like a partnership.”
Fromagerie Polyethnique also reaps the benefits of Sipromac machines and equipment being manufactured and produced in Canada, should they require any further assistance with the TM-050.
“The Sipromac team came to the facility for the training in the beginning and then they came back about two or three weeks after just to be sure that everything was running okay,” Lambert elucidates.
“And they haven’t been back since that time!”
As Fromagerie Polyethnique looks ahead at their future in the grilling cheese space, both Lambert and Salvas both believe that the facility’s innovative TM-050 thermoformer will help them in their continued success.
Salvas happily shares that Fromagerie Polyethnique is currently in high demand for their private-label grilling cheese products, which she says will be packed in a speedy manner on the TM-050 thermoformer, with the continued support of Sipromac.
“We’re ready to increase our production, and we are going to continue to adhere to our high quality standards,” Salvas says.
“We are sure that we will be using the thermoformer and it’s going to go well with the deployment.”
Concludes Salvas: “We have a great relationship with Sipromac and we will continue working with them to adjust the thermoformer for new products.”
Please see La Fromagerie Polyethnique Inc. using Sipromac’s thermoforming equipment in operation on Canadian Packaging TV at www.canadianpackaging.com