JASA Packaging Solutions, a Netherlands-based family-owned packaging company, opened a new sales and service office in Richmond, Virginia in 2018. The company is bringing its line of what it describes as "innovative, flexible packaging machinery" directly to US producers, although its machines have already been available since the 1980s through distributors.
Sandra Somford, President of JASA Packaging Solutions in the US, described the history of the company, which dates back to the 1960's. Somford's grandfather owned a company that washed, pre-cooked and packed vegetables. "The first machines were already used for automation and my father, working there from his teens, loved working on the machinery and optimization of the production processes," she recalled. "That has been the start of JASA Packaging Solutions, where the focus always has been on automatic weighing and packaging fresh produce and other fresh products. Until today, we’re still a proud supplier to the company Hessing in The Netherlands that took over my grandfather’s business."
After JASA began as a company in 1985, Somford said her father came into contact with Newtec, a supplier of weighing equipment, mainly for the potato industry. "We’ve sold many Newtec-JASA weigh and packaging combinations since then, and expanded our international distributor network throughout Europe, North America and Oceania. Our first JASA machine in the US has been sold by Ag-Pak in the late 1980’s."
"Since the global financial crisis in 2008 we transformed our business and started focusing on innovation with the development of new machinery," she continued. "We’ve been growing steadily since then and since 2016 we’ve added the focus of international sales, of which the opening of our US Sales and Service office is one of the results."
Automation and convenience
JASA sees a number of trends in the US, which encouraged it to expand its presence there. One of which is the rise in demand for convenient, ready-to-eat produce. Somford noted that in the Netherlands, 35 percent of all produce in the grocery stores is ready-to-eat and packed, compared to the roughly 4 percent in the US. She also said that automation is a key factor to success in North America, as it has been in Europe.
"We are, just as most of the growers and packers, a family-owned company with a broad history and experience which reflects in all our innovative solutions that match our customers’ needs," Somford said. "We see a change going on in the US with the demand for fresh healthy foods. These products are more and more convenient/ready-to-eat. That’s exactly what our customers have been packing with our equipment for the past 35+ years, and we love to bring all our experience to the US market. On the other side, we see that manual labor is becoming a larger issue in many companies in the US, just as it has been in Europe. And we can help the packers with this step by step automation process."
Somford also noted that the company's focus is on the equipment itself, with customers freely able to choose what materials they wish to use. "We believe that this strategy gives our customer the most flexibility and the best solution," she said.
Sleever for apples
Paper packaging solutions
In Europe, the trend towards sustainable packaging has been gaining momentum for some time, and it is now also picking up pace in North America. In response to this, JASA launched the Bag2Paper and the Paper Sleever, this year at Fruit Logistica in Berlin.
Somford observed, "The European market has been waiting for these kinds of solutions and our sales for these solutions have grown significantly in Europe since then. In North America, this is picking up, but at a slower pace. It takes time to get the packers, retailers and consumers all at the same level." She added that the focus on sustainability in the US is surprising, but at the same time believes the turnover towards these kinds of packages will be quick over the next few years.
In line with automation and sustainability, efficiency is another area where JASA Packaging sees potential in the US, as Somford explained. "Efficiency on a small footprint has always been a big focus for our European customers. Square footage and labor have been fairly expensive over the years, and automation has been the solution. We’ve assisted many companies grow from manual packing to complete automated solutions, while products became more complex. We love the challenge of efficiency."
Where to from here?
Now that JASA Packaging Solutions has opened the US office, it will now implement its plan of expanding its US presence up to a full organization with project and service engineers. The Richmond office handles sales, service and warehousing of equipment and parts, which will continue to be manufactured in the Netherlands over the coming years.
"Our innovation team in the Netherlands continues to develop new products and we’re excited to bring these products to the US market at a faster pace," Somford concluded. "The main focus of our US office is on complete tray/clamshell packaging lines and sleevers. Ready-to-eat meal salads and any other product in trays, like lettuce, tomatoes, apples and avocados are just some examples of the many solutions we provide. Next to these horizontal filling lines we offer bagging lines in all sorts with our JASA Vertical Form Fill and Seal machines."
For more information:
JASA Packaging Solutions, Inc.
Ph: +1 (804) 290-3582