Isle of Wight Biltong, a specialist provider of the South African delicacy, believes it is on the brink of further growth and success since purchasing vertical form fill and seal equipment from KernPack earlier this year. Husband and wife team, Nick and Sarah Greeff were running a riverside ranch near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. In 2011, they decided to return to her family home on the Isle of Wight, where the business was established in a newly renovated old dairy on Newham Farm. The use of local beef helps sustain the farming community and has created biltong of the highest quality.
Sarah explains “Starting from scratch on the Island was a steep learning curve for us. We had lots of assistant workers in Africa however since 2011 it’s just been the two of us. We wanted to generate business with the minimum of staff and that’s where the packaging machinery came in”. To begin with the dedicated duo were processing everything by hand, says Sarah and Nick “we were producing just 4 completed packets every 2 minutes, which was very slow going. Also, applying a Best Before sticker to each packet was time consuming and the label could be easily removed”.
The Greeff’s had another serious issue to factor in, “the bags were not 100% oxygen proof, allowing mould to grow in some of them. For local shops we could quickly replace the bags, however we could not run the risk of trying to supply larger and more remote supermarkets where we had no confidence in the seal” stated Sarah. The need to source a packaging solution was recognised and Nick began researching the product market in search of a solution that would take their business to the next level. KernPack was delighted when its VFFS machine was chosen ahead of its competitors, says Nick “we chose the KernPack VFFS because it produced a more professional looking product”.
The VFFS machine has brought benefits to three key areas: “Firstly, the airtight seal is so good that the shelf-life of products has now been extended from 3 months to 1 year which has made us more attractive to big distributors, wholesalers and supermarkets. Secondly, we will be able to produce packs with printed film and date coding which means products look far more professional and trustworthy which is important from a consumer point of view. Thirdly, the speed of the equipment; we can achieve 22 bags a minute, which is fantastic for us!” exclaims Nick.
Opening doors to new markets, the VFFS machine has also helped IOW Biltong to expand into pubs and supermarkets. The latest and most exciting addition being Selfridges “there’s no way on earth we’d have got into Selfridges without the combination of our excellent biltong quality and the KernPack machine” says Sarah.
The purchase was made possible thanks to an interest free loan from the Isle of Wight Lottery and a generous grant by DEFRA. Having reviewed and looked at three competing companies it was clear that KernPack’s equipment was superior and the Greeff’s were happy to support another Hampshire-based company.
“There’s no way on earth we’d have got into Selfridges without the combination of our excellent biltong quality and the KernPack machine”.
Isle of Wight Biltong