The Innovator: John Marlee

John Marlee, Managing Director of Bradman Lake, tells International Bakery about looking forward to the future and the evolving needs of the packaging industry. 

First established in 1948, Bradman Lake provides packaging solutions to its global client base, helping them excel in today’s competitive and demanding markets. The company is a designer and manufacturer of packing machinery and turnkey systems to the bakery & biscuit, chocolate & confectionery, dry foods, chilled and frozen foods, consumer, pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.

The company’s manufacturing plants are located in Beccles and Bristol in the UK and Rock Hill, SC, in the United States. 

What are the major challenges you see to packaging in the bakery industry? 

Packaging is one of the major challenges faced by the bakery industry. It requires careful planning and execution to ensure that products are packaged in a way that meets with the needs of its customers, ensuring the product remains safe, intact, cost effective and fresh for the consumer.  

The challenges faced by bakers include; minimising environmental impact, reducing packaging materials and waste, sourcing flexible equipment for gentle product handling and able to run the most appropriate packaging materials both now and in the future, have quick changeovers and of course high performance. Packaging designs need to be attractive whilst maintaining product integrity, and meeting food safety regulations. In addition, there is a need to keep up with the ever-changing trends in consumer preferences. 

This year you celebrated your 75th anniversary. From your experience, have demands on packaging changed? If so, why? 

Packaging demands have seen a drastic shift in recent years. There is more focus on flexibility and providing a secure environmentally friendly attractive pack which is shelf ready for retailers. This has led to an increased demand of alternative types of packaging materials such as recyclable primary packaging, carton board trays, cartons, cases and protective overwrapping. We are actively helping our customers transition away from single use plastics whilst delivering more flexible and adaptable products to market.  

A few examples of equipment adaptability include exchanging sealing modules to allow customers to migrate to recyclable materials on flow wrappers; removing single use acetate trays from cartoned products by restyling top load trays with the addition of a turnover ends, or adding gable ended closure to an end load skillet carton to support the product within. 

In addition, our end of line equipment has seen a move away from traditional shrink wrap film to trays with attached hoods or lids and wrap around cases. 

Bradman Lake equipment is designed using a common engineering standard, giving our customers the ability to install a single machine, or a phased approach, through to full automation ‘from process to pallet’.  

There is also a growing demand for eco-friendly packaging materials such as recycled paper, board materials and biodegradable plastics.  

Changes can also be attributed to other factors, such as increased consumer awareness of environmental issues, advances in technology, product display and presentation, future flexibility and changing consumer preferences.  

All these changes have made it necessary for companies to adapt their packaging strategies to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers as to remain competitive…

Read the full feature in our free to download magazine.

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Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Bakery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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