A drive to improve resource efficiency has led to reduced carbon, increased sales and new jobs for ingredient blending specialist Romix Foods, after seeking specialist support from GC Business Growth Hub.
The Leigh-based manufacturer blends and packs commercial bakery and retail ingredient mixes for several of the country’s largest bakery chains and retail baking brands, including Jane Asher cake mixes, Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire Pudding Mix and Cheshire baker Roberts Bakery.
Due to rising demand Romix Foods needed to double its output, but simply increasing running hours was not an efficient solution.
Company founders Dan Ross and Mick McGowan turned to the Hub’s Resource Efficiency service, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and worked with environmental business advisor Claire Scott to explore opportunities to expand production capability.
“Together we calculated that a quicker, more modern baking mix filling line would use less electricity per hour while producing twice as many sachets per unit of electricity consumed,” explained Mick.
After successfully applying for grant funding of £12,500 from the Hub’s Energy Efficiency Grant to invest in the new equipment, the new filling line was installed in January this year.
Filling at least twice as many sachets per minute as its predecessor, the new machine uses improved filling technology to dispense the product more efficiently and accurately, resulting in less product waste. It also means that smaller sachets can be used, so less plastic packaging is required.
In total 15 tonnes of raw material and 14 tonnes of plastic packaging will be saved each year. When combined with the electricity savings being made per unit produced, this equates to an annual CO2e (‘carbon dioxide equivalent’, which represents the level of greenhouse gas emissions) saving of more than 100 tonnes per year.
Mick added: “The impartial and expert advice and support that we’ve received from Claire has been fantastic. Applying for the Hub’s Energy Efficiency Grant has enabled us to work quickly and invest in new technology to help us become more efficient, save carbon and reduce waste at a time when we’re facing such high demand.”
The new filling line has also enabled Romix Foods to adapt quickly to the challenges faced by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions and continue to support its suppliers and customers.
“Almost overnight our product output changed,” said Paul Weston, Romix Food’s Commercial Director. “Pre COVID-19, 75% of our product volume went to commercial bakeries, but due to the closure of bakeries, coffee shops and cafes when we entered lockdown this work suddenly dropped off.
“However, home baking has taken off during lockdown. As a result, product volume reversed with 75% focusing on retail brand cake and batter mixes sold in the shops.
“The investment in the new filling machine enabled us to change our product focus very quickly, while also being able to continue supporting our industrial bakery customers to maintain supply of their key baked good during the lockdown period.”
Now restrictions are easing additional resource and new working practices are being put in place to meet the needs of new and existing bakeries who are becoming operational again as the food service and hospitality sectors begin to reopen for business.
The Hub’s environmental business advisor Claire Scott said: “By replacing its sachet filling line, Romix Foods is removing a significant amount of waste and efficiently increasing its output at a time when demand is high.
“What’s really interesting with Romix Foods is that together we addressed the challenge faced holistically and the solution has helped them to achieve their objective of increasing production efficiently while enabling them to react and adapt during a highly challenging period.
“Their investment was relatively low in comparison to the impact on the business. And that’s not unusual – other manufacturers looking to reduce their environmental impact and improve profitability should note that no cost and low-cost measures can often result in substantial bottom-line savings. Plus, grants are available to help fund eligible projects.”
Since 2015, more than 1,000 Greater Manchester businesses have received support from the Hub’s Resource Efficiency team and 10,000 tonnes of annual CO2e savings have been made. To find out more, please visit www.businessgrowthhub.com/services/resource-efficiency.
Businesses looking to access specialist support can visit www.businessgrowthhub.com for more information about the organisation’s extensive range of services. This and other GC Business Growth Hub projects are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the GM Business Growth Hub project designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester. The Hub is also supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester local authorities.