Quebec food processor sharpens up its packaging skillset with new bagging machinery for its busy foodservice line
Quality and taste are never out of fashion when it comes to packaged food products, but it is important to keep your packaging capabilities and know-how up to date to keep your customers and consumers happy and loyal, as folks at Cibona Foods Inc. know very well.
Started up in 1988 in Saint-Laurent, Que., the family-owned business has seen its fortunes grow in leaps and bounds over the years—today employing 20 people at a tidy, 36,000-square-foot processing and packaging facility specializing in the so-called “transformed” food product like olives and cherries, along with a smaller, 8,000-square-foot sister plant operating nearby.
“We specializes in the processing of a wide range of very high quality products like maraschino cherries, gherkins, capers, marinades, Greek peppers, pickled cauliflowers, small silver-skin onions and olives—offered in a range of containers and packages,” relates company founder and president Ljuban Ljubisic, adding that all of his Kosher-approved products are produced in accordance with a strictly-observed quality control program regularly recertified by a third-party auditor on behalf of the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
“When I first started up my Canadian business from within my home’s garage, I was packing olives for a customer who never paid me for the work,” recalls Ljubisic, relating that he chose the company name as a personal tribute to a successful, well-known basketball team in his native former Yugoslavia.
“But despite losing money on that deal, I vowed that I would be a success in my business and that I would never cut corners and would never offer customers anything less than my very best products.”
Sticking to his principles enabled Ljubisic to grow his business to a point where the company was able to purchase a second smaller plant last year to begin production of mayonnaise and various mayonnaise-based products, along with salad dressings and vinaigrettes,
“All of these products have also been very well-received by our customers for their superb quality and taste,” Ljubisic told Canadian Packaging in a recent interview, citing the company’s hard-earned reputation for high product quality and exceptional taste profile as key competitive advantages.
“I would rather be selling a higher-priced product than resort to sacrificing quality—and my customers know and appreciate this,” he asserts, citing cherries and olives—the latter now sold in over 25 different SKUs (stock-keeping units)—as the company’s bestselling product lines.
“I would not put my label on anything that is not a quality product,” states Ljubisic, adding he would rather turn down requests to supply customers with lower-quality, inexpensive products if it risked compromising his exacting high standards of processing and packaging excellence.
“That is why I never have to call my customers for new business; I get them calling me instead,” says Ljubisic. “They know that with us they will get best quality in taste, texture and aroma,” he adds.
“I offer superior quality in taste, texture and aroma; I’m like a chef in a restaurant—people will come back if the chef has created a nice plate.”
While Ljubisic admits that he works in a highly competitive business, with relatively thin profit margins, he says he truly enjoys the sense of satisfaction he gets out of keeping his customers happy by knowing he would never sell them an inferior product or cutting corners in any other way.