Maltra Foods celebrates 20 years

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Melbourne-based Maltra Foods will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary. Matthew McDonald takes a look at this expert in dry powders and blending and finds a company that places customer relations high on its priority list.

In March 1997, Greg Eydlish founded Maltra Foods. A small outfit, operating out of St. Kilda, the business made hot beverages and drinking chocolate powders for Melbourne’s cafés and the wider food and beverage industries.

“It had between seven and 10 employees, including factory hands and administration,” Jack Eydlish, Maltra Foods Vice President of Sales (and son of the founder) told Food & Beverage Industry News. “At the time there would have been about ten core products within the portfolio.”

The company grew and not long after, in 2000/01, moved to Moorabbin. Ten years of further growth followed and then in 2010/11 Maltra moved to its current location, a purpose-built 6,550 square metre facility in Clayton. This plant is a state-of-the-art blending and packing facility with the latest automation equipment.

Apart from the location changes, there have been many other milestones for the company over the past 20 years.

Twelve years ago, Maltra launched its own Arkadia brand of Chai tea latte, premium drinking chocolate and frappes. Then in 2013, it launched the Green Spoon brand of Stevia- based natural sweeteners.

Today

From the single digit figures of 20 years ago, today on any given day Maltra employs up to 100 people.

Contract manufacturing has always been a big part of the company.

“It’s been in our blood from day one. The business started with a backbone of contract manufacturing,” Henri Kalisse, General Manager of Maltra Foods told Food & Beverage Industry News. Today, 75 per cent of the business is devoted to contract manufacturing.

According to Eydlish, the company can make a range of food and beverage dry-powder products, including hot and cold beverage powders. On top of that, in the last decade they’ve also branched out into soft serve or ice cream powder mixes, sports nutrition and dietary, baking mixes, health foods, milk powders, fortified milk powders and sugars (including specialty sugars and natural sweeteners).

These can be delivered with a broad range of packaging options, from small 20g sachets up to 500kg bulk bags. And within that mix customers can choose between composite cans, HDP jars, and Doy packs.

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“The most important thing about our business is that we try and bring ideas to life with excellence in service.” said Eydlish. “We want to be the leaders in contract manufacturing in this industry and try and set the benchmark.

“Our plan is to continually improve operations and become more efficient, more streamlined and focus significantly on export markets.” That way, he added, the company can deliver not just to Australia, but to the world.

“We hope that we continue with sustainable growth in the next 20 years and continue to be the leaders in the industry; continue to drive innovation, and (importantly for us) be an equal opportunity employer.”

End to end solutions

Asked what sets Maltra Foods apart from other food makers, Kalisse pointed to the breadth of services his company offers.

“We don’t just see ourselves as a service provider. A lot of contract manufacturers can fall into that trap quite easily. We see ourselves as a strategic partner for our customers,” he said, adding that many of those customers have been with Maltra for the full 20 years.

“We deliver end to end solutions. We don’t just offer parcels to process. We like to be there from the idea to the commercialisation and execution. And we’ve got people at every level of the process…from R&D to marketing to manufacturing to sourcing and, at the end, logistics.

“So we like to deliver the full package and to make sure that our customers are not just happy with the outcome but that they’ve got sustainable products that can be delivered at call and that can be delivered within the specs and to their customers on time and in full.

This, of course requires a full infrastructure. “We’ve got our state-of -the-art packaging facilities that we’ve invested a lot of money in and continue to reinvest to keep them at the cutting edge,” he said.

“We’ve been in this building now for over five years and we continue to invest in those facilities to make sure we are right at the forefront of equipment development so that we can continue to deliver the best to our customers.”

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Maltra’s certifications include Dairy Foods Safety Victoria, AQIS, BRC, HACCP, ISO9001, Organic Certified and Fairtrade.

“At that certification we can deliver on kosher, halal, gluten free, nut free. We can isolate allergens,” he said.

Being able to deliver end-to-end solutions requires deep business relationships. According to Kalisse, customer relations are “at the forefront of our values”.

“Our relationships with a lot of our customers span 20 years but not just our customers, our suppliers. So we make sure that we’ve got an entire supply chain covered,” he added.

The future

While the broader Australian manufacturing sector has been a place of much doom and gloom for some time now, the food and beverage sector, with its natural advantages and promise of future export success, has inspired more optimism. Eydlish shares this optimism.

“We are still quite upbeat about the future. If you look at the likes of the big retailers there is a much bigger emphasis on products being made in Australia,” he said.

“New food labelling laws are coming out that indicate the proportion of ingredients that come from here as well as what’s manufactured here. So I do believe there’s a big future for Australian manufacturing and it is something that’s sort after.”

And, according to Kalisse, the future is particularly bright for Maltra Foods.

“We’re really, really excited about reaching the 20 year milestone being in Australian manufacturing and Australian food manufacturing. Over those 20 years we’ve seen
a lot of people come and go but we’ve been in there focussed, growing and supporting Australian manufacturing,” he said.

“We’re 100 precent family-owned, we’re 100 per cent Australian- owned, and we manufacture here in Melbourne. We do our R&D and all of that in Melbourne.

“We’ve had a great 20 years. Our strategic plan is all about the next 20 years. How we’re going to contine to deliver the growth, innovation and give support to our customers. So we think 20 years is great but we are planning for the next 20 years.”