Set up in 2003, Catering Disposables is a family run business situated in Aerodrome Business Park in Rathcoole. The business uses a model that supplies to the wholesale and foodservice sectors, with thousands of products and a prompt delivery service. The last three years have seen the business continue to flourish, resulting in the expansion of the premises in 2016 to include additional warehouse and office space, as well as a showroom to attract new customers and hold special training days to facilitate their staff. Currently the business employs over 40 staff which has grown year on year, and is predicted continue to do so. I spoke to Sharon Dowling, company director, about how the industry has changed, environmentally friendly products and what Catering Disposables has to offer businesses.
Catering Disposables predominately supplies disposable food packaging and hygiene products such as takeaway and salad containers, eco-friendly products, cups and centrefeed rolls. Takeaway packaging such as containers, cups and lids and hygiene products like paper systems and vinyl gloves are all big sellers with the company.
“Obviously due to the current climate we are expanding our eco-friendly products range,” said Sharon. The company’s main customer base includes wholesalers, cash and carries and food distributors throughout Ireland and the UK. “Having over 300 customers at present, we are unique in that fact that we don’t supply to the end user and act as a sales, marketing and purchasing support for our customers,” said Sharon.
“There has been huge growth in the industry thanks to advances in healthy food, digital apps and the growing coffee culture in Ireland,” Sharon said when discussing recent changes in the industry. Multi-functional, leak proof and heat retention are just some of the main attributes found in most products nowadays. Innovation in containers has also impacted the industry, with more environmentally friendly packaging being introduced.
”There has been more emphasis placed on packaging and its effects on the environments in recent years,” Sharon continued. “Consumers are more aware of the impacts of packaging on the environment and as a result are requesting eco-friendly packaging for their takeaway coffee.” The result of this is an increase in demand for more eco-friendly packaging from their customers.
Catering Disposables has always had an eco-friendly product offering, however there has been more emphasis on these products recently due to potential legislations being introduced and media interest. “We are continuing to research and source the most environmentally friendly products and are expanding this range in line with our customer’s requests such as products made from sugar pulp,” said Sharon.
This has had a positive impact on the business to date as it allows Catering Disposables to offer a greater range of products to suit individuals needs whilst reducing the impact of disposable packaging on the environment. The business can offer 100% recyclable and also 100% compostable products across most ranges.
Premium products are gaining traction among consumers and the number of speciality independent cafes and coffee shops is rising as a result. “We always strive to source the best, most innovative and premium quality products,” Sharon explained. Catering Disposables also offers customisation through labelling and branding and also offer cash and carry friendly packaging. Recent successful products launched include, Kraft Salad Bowls and a range of heavy duty clear cutlery, and later this year will see the company expand their eco-friendly range.
Catering Disposables pride themselves on their customer service and prompt delivery. They follow strict procedures and continuously look for improved efficiencies to challenge these procedures. The operations team monitor all aspects of the delivery cycle from receipt of order through to palletisation, routing, dispatching and delivery to customer. The nationwide service covers all of Ireland in a modern fleet of trucks and vans from their 100,000+ sq. ft. warehouse facility. The business supplies this service in a timely and efficient manner through the computerised stock control system and experienced staff. Prompt and personal attention from the sales team ensures that all clientele receive the best service possible.
“It is not only our products that may attract customers but the service we offer,” Sharon explained. “Our mission at Catering Disposables is to deliver quality products on time, for the right price while remaining competitive.” The business adopts a more personal approach to business and will always go the extra mile for a customer’s request. They also offer assistance to customers in the form of onsite sales training for their employees and alongside this offer marketing support. “We hope to build on our reputation as an innovator in the industry and to grow our business further,” Sharon continued.
Currently, the business is in an investment phase. The future looks bright for Catering Disposables indeed with a lot of expansion on the horizon. “This year we are sourcing a new ERP system and new warehouse management system,” said Sharon. The business has also just started developing a new website which will allow them to better showcase their product ranges. “We will be adding to our fleet of vehicles this year as the company expands and employing new staff also.”