The company currently employs 250 people and exports to 77 countries – a figure that is rapidly growing. In total, Signature Snacks makes 17 different products with a range of flavours, covering everything from wafers with a caramel cream filling to dates coated with chocolate. The food specialist’s product catalogue currently includes 64 separate items. “We set the highest standards for our products and supply customers with a delicious, natural premium product that does away with artificial colouring or flavour enhancers,” says CEO Nizar Rajoub, outlining key elements of the company’s philosophy. “The customer is the judge of our food – that’s the critical factor for our product development.”
The CEO doesn’t only set his sights high for the products. Packaging, too, must meet stringent requirements. “For a company that makes products for consumers, the issue of packaging is an important one that strongly influences the decision to buy or not buy,” says Rajoub. Preserving freshness and ensuring gentle treatment of the products is also essential. “The full experience of our snacks is only unleashed once they are enclosed in appealing and technically perfect packaging. Premium products deserve premium packaging.”
Just how seriously CEO Rajoub takes this topic can be seen a few kilometers from the head office, at Dubai Investment Park, where Signature Snacks runs a modern industrial plant that meets the highest production standards. The hustle and bustle here mirrors the atmosphere in the thriving metropolis of Dubai. On the ultra-clean dark green industrial floor, six gleaming silver packaging machines made by German manufacturer Hastamat Verpackungstechnik stand alongside the processing machines. Hastamat, which is part of the Piepenbrock Group, supplies not only complete packaging lines comprising multihead weighers and vertical baggers, but also flexible product feeder systems to convey, buffer, and combine the snacks. “Signature has around 300 meters of conveyor lines and multihead weighers from our CP series, various RM-250 series vertical baggers, and a multihead weigher on a horizontal packaging machine,” says Marco Hinter, Head of Sales and Marketing at Hastamat.
The equipment supplied by Hastamat packs Signature Snacks’ entire production output in vertical bags. “We’re talking about an output of three to four tons that’s weighed, checked using integrated metal detectors, and packed into various flow pack types and sizes every hour,” says Hinter, listing the impressive figures. One key argument was the machines’ outstanding performance levels. “Our multihead weighers perform between 120 and 200 weighing procedures a minute,” says the sales and marketing manager. The products are transported to the weighers via a central distribution system and then gently packed by the baggers.
Signature Snacks and Hastamat first made contact at the Gulfood exhibition – the new hotspot for the food industry in the Middle East. “We then found out more about the company’s performance and its technical solutions, which sealed our decision to cooperate,” says Rajoub, looking back at the beginnings of the partnership. The Hastamat engineers needed to address a number of product handling challenges: as just one example, the packaging process had to account for the fact that the chocolate-coated dates vary in size. Signature Snacks’ products are also frequently fragile and must be packed extremely gently. “Hastamat’s innovative engineering delivered a solution to every one of our demands. And today, in ongoing operations, we can see that everything works just as we imagined it would,” says Rajoub. The CEO is particularly impressed by his partner’s unswerving dedication to its customers. “Hastamat machines work efficiently, just like the entire team behind them. They didn’t simply sell products but worked hand in hand with us to make a success of the project and achieve the very best in performance.” Clear communication and quick decision-making also went down especially well with the food producer from the Emirates. “We modified our existing machine platforms to meet Signature Snacks’ specific requirements,” says Hinter. “The various parties involved have since built up a close and trusting relationship.”
During and after installation of the machines, Hastamat provided in-depth on-site training with the customer. Signature and Hastamat work closely together when it comes to service. “A service engineer from Germany flies in for an inspection once or twice a year, and the rest of the time we use remote access to provide assistance at short notice. In such cases, we directly access the machinery software from Germany,” explains Hinter. Nizar Rajoub adds, “Hastamat offered us complete in-house service – from custom project planning to on-site installation and all the way to comprehensive service. The after-sales team is extremely reliable and responds quickly if a problem occurs.”
Production is now in full swing, just like Signature Snacks’ overall business, and all signs point to further expansion. CEO Rajoub thus has his sights firmly set on the next step of his aim to be the best in the world: “We’re already planning to build another factory.” Established production processes with machines from Hastamat will assist him on this new project.