Launching its 850 ml kid’s lunchboxes last year, Johannesburg-based plastics manufacturer Otima Plastics is operating at full production capacity to meet demand, manufacturing 60 000 kid’s lunchboxes a month.
The price point of the product is a major driver of demand, says Otima domestic and international brand manager Jody Ioannides.
“However, other contributing factors include the ink quality of the labels and the crystal-clear virgin material used in the manufacturing process. We also offer designs on these lunchboxes that appeal to many kids’ tastes, with new label designs launching in October this year.”
Brand loyalty is something Otima strives to build and maintain daily through its Big O promise of affordability, high quality and passion for its brand.
“This also plays a significant role in eliciting a favourable response from consumers when launching new products into the market,” states Ioannides.
Otima’s 850 ml kid’s lunchboxes were introduced after the company identified a need for a trendy, affordable kid’s lunchbox with functional and innovative design aspects that can be changed from season to season.
“The product is also inspired by our manufacturing facility’s capability to institute in-mould-labelling as part of our product offering of plastic goods for customers in the African market,” adds Ioannides.
The research and development process took eight to 10 months and entailed sourcing a local label supplier and designing a lunchbox of an ideal size to fit a nutritious lunch, she says.
The design of the labels was then tackled, which required extensive market research. Four designs were selected for the launch – superhero, princess, soccer and fruits – with many cultural considerations going into Otima’s designs.
It was a challenge to ensure that the designs appealed to as many kids, of various ages and tastes, as possible, says Ioannides.
Further, considerable testing of different label substrates was undertaken in collaboration with Otima’s label manufacturer to ensure optimal appearance and longevity.
Meanwhile, Otima’s factory staff was trained on the in-mould labelling process, as it was a completely new and technical process, requiring the utmost attention to detail compared with ordinary plastic injection moulding, adds Ioannides.
Manufactured in Germiston using locally sourced materials, a plastic injection moulding machine is used in the production of Otima’s 850 ml kid’s lunchbox range.
Static is created on the label, which allows for it to stick once placed into the mould, which then presses together. The raw material – polypropene – is melted through various heaters and fed through the machine to be injected into the mould.
The polypropelene then solidifies, cools and is ejected from the machine. The lunchbox clip, which also runs through an injection moulding process, is then clipped on to the product.
“There are five people involved in the manufacturing process, namely the mould installer, the mould setter, the material handler and mixer, the machine operator, and the quality controller,” explains Ioannides.
The lunchboxes undergo numerous quality control measures to confirm that each product meets Otima’s quality standard, and that variations are prevented.
Quality control checks are completed hourly and include ensuring that the labels are positioned correctly, the correct colour clips have been used according to the respective designs, the label is not damaged in any way, the correct number of lunchboxes have been packed per bale and the clarity of the lunchbox.
While the South African market presents the largest demand for the product, demand from the rest of the Southern African Development Community has “grown exponentially over the last few months”, states Ioannides.
Otima’s 850 ml kid’s lunchboxes are available at several of South Africa’s leading retailers, such as West Pack Lifestyle, Crazy Plastics, Game and Makro’s online store.