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Opem and Tom N Toms introduce Koreans to the single serve

From the March 2016 issue.

Leading Korean coffee company Tom N Toms has teamed up with Italian process packaging machinery manufacturer Opem to bring single serve coffee to the Korean market.

When one of Korea’s leading coffee companies, Tom N Toms, decided to add single serve pods to their product offering, they looked far and wide for a company that would be able to meet their high standards, both as a manufacturer and a business partner.

With a highly sophisticated business structure that gives the company control of all aspects of its coffee operations, from manufacturing right through to retail, Tom N Toms decided to capitalise on the explosive popularity of the single serve segment.

After an extensive search for a partner to help them set up operations for this new side of the business, Tom N Toms found Italian plant manufacturer Opem, says Tom N Toms’ Managing Director, Andrew Lee.

“After conducting a long and detailed search of various manufacturers of packing machines, we evaluated OPEM as being reliable, well established and one of the top companies in the plant manufacturing industry,” Lee says.

So in 2015 Tom N Toms launched its partnership with Opem. With single serve coffee yet to completely take off in the Korean market, Lee says that this is a strategic move by both companies that they hope will pay dividends in the future.

“The pod market in Korea is still in its very early stages,” he says. “Therefore, we are at the forefront of the pod market and this cooperation with Opem is a big investment, but one that we feel could be lucrative for both companies in the long run.”

While Tom N Toms’ pod business is still fairly young, Lee says the partnership with Opem has helped them set up their new operation smoothly and effectively.

“Our company has just started to expand into the pod industry in Korea,” he says. “Opem has been a really supportive partner for Tom N Toms in this process. Both Opem and Tom N Toms are still making progress to expand the Korean pod industry together, and Opem has always been extremely helpful and well-equipped to assist us in installing and understanding how to use the new manufacturing machines.”

As one of Korea’s leading coffee companies, Tom N Toms runs a fully integrated coffee operation with a key focus on enriching the consumer experience that differentiate it from its competition.

Some of the key features of Tom N Toms’ offering in Korea are valet parking for customers, operating its stores around the clock, and the provision of business meeting rooms in its coffee shops.

The company places a strong focus on the quality of its coffee, having developed its very own barista academy that provides in-depth instruction for franchisees and store employees.

This focus on customers first and its strong offering of quality coffee have seen the Korean company expand its presence into numerous territories around the world, including the United States, Australia, China, Singapore, Thailand, Mongolia, and Armenia.

When Tom N Toms was looking to expand into the single serve market, they found that despite the geographical distance between Korea and Italy, they had a willing and helpful partner in Opem.

“Really the only issue that we faced was the time difference,” Lee says. “It is the only area we had any difference in. For other any problem we found that Opem was extremely professional and that their long experience of business meant they provided us with beneficial information and great cooperation, making everything run smoothly and under control.”

Opem’s machines for filter paper pod production feature volumetric auger dosing and a check weigher for each single pod produced to guarantee the weight of each pod within a range of 0.2 grams.

The machine also features an integrated coffee grinder with a pneumatic transport system that carries the grains from the container to the ground. This makes it possible to set different grain sizes depending on the type of coffee and the in-cup result that is desired by the customer.

The machine produces pods which are then individually packed in bags with flexible film with a guaranteed level of less than 1 per cent residual oxygen, preserving the product for a long time without altering its organoleptic characteristics.

The machine also contains several brushless motors that are synchronised electronically.

The compact and energy-efficient machine can pack 100 pods per minute. The machine’s power consumption and pneumatic air and nitrogen consumption are among the lowest in its product segment.

Lee says that Opem’s sophisticated software has been one of the key factors in the smooth implementation of the new manufacturing system.

“Opem has a very smart system for software,” he says. “Given the distance between the two companies, problems could have been very challenging to resolve if they occurred – technical problems are the biggest issue if the manufacturer is outside of country. However, as they have a remote controller of system in the company, it has made it very easy for them to solve any problems we might have in Korea. Since professional technicians for the machine are in Italy, it would be tough for us to solve by ourselves, but this smart system makes it simple and convenient.”

Tom N Toms now intends to expand its pod business in two directions, with both a branded product and also as the manufacturer of licenced products for other companies.

Tom N Toms’ own pods will come in six varieties that it will sell through its own stores and as a branded product through retailers across Korea.

Lee says that the partnership with Opem, and the new opportunities that it has brought, have been a boon to both Tom N Toms’ business and to Opem’s.

“Opem has provided the opportunity to Tom N Toms to expand our presence in the market,” he says. “And this goes both ways: Tom N Toms is now supporting Opem as they seek to expand their presence in Korea. Successful partnerships such as this are a win-win.” GCR

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