Powder to the People!

First in a 4-part series on DURE FOODS. Taken from a recently published article by Andrew Joseph in the October 2014 issue of Canadian Packaging magazine. Photos by Cole Garside.

DURE FOODS LTD. uses advanced product inspection to formulate a winning packaging strategy for its growing co-packing business.

President Hunter Malcolm says his company provides valuable third-party services offering Flavoured Cappuccino, sugar and more, for a growing number of major national and multinational retail chains by developing and packaging unique dry powder blends for the food and beverage industry.
When people tend to think of the food and beverage industry, images of prime cuts of meat, bottled beverages and ready-to-eat meals immediately come to mind.
But despite a lack of instant recognition on behalf of Joe Public, one Ontario manufacturer and its niche market products aims to be the creamer in 
your coffee or that cup of hot chocolate perfection on a chilly evening.
Situated in Brantford, Ont, an approximate 90-minute drive west of Toronto, the family owned Dure Foods Ltd. performs what can only be described as an efficiency solution for food and beverage suppliers across North America, offering various dry blending services for a multitude of major national and international grocery retail and fast-food chains.
The company describes itself as ‘large enough to count on, small enough to care’, for over 30 years providing the food services industry with quality powdered goods such as chai tea, cappuccinos, cappuccino foamers, hot chocolate, vending and reliquifying creamers and sugar, as well as a recent foray into the production of hydrators and whey proteins—all of which are available under the Dure Foods label as well as under private-label programs.
Founded with humble beginnings in 1978 by Scott Malcolm, he and one other employee—Chrissy Humphery, who is still with the company—worked out of a small rented space filling orders for its initial product, a liquid dish soap, which certainly doesn’t sound like a dry powdered product.
In fact, it was another five years before Dure Foods began manufacturing and packaging dry blends, co-packing coffee whiteners and bulk sugar, then done with a total of five employees.
“It was in the mid-1990s when the whole specialty coffee trend opened up. We saw an opportunity for the company to expand our talents and began developing products for this niche market,” company president Hunter Malcolm told Canadian Packaging magazine during recent visit to the company’s 53,000-square-foot facility.
Hunter is the son of the company founder, though Scott continues to be involved in the business on a daily basis. “The timing was great for us—just as the whiteners market began to decrease, the flavored cappuccino segment rose sharply.”
To create flavored coffees such as the cappuccino, the cappuccino powders would be added by coffee roasting companies to blend the taste sensation.
 With success came the necessity for growth, Malcolm notes, “so we constructed a new 35,000-square-foot facility in 2002, later adding an additional 20,000 square feet in 2006 featuring more loading docks as well as blending and packaging rooms and a total of 36 employees.”
In 2005 the company set-up an additional facility down in Columbus, OH, a 12 employee, 48,000-square-foot facility that also blends and packs dry powder products.
Nowadays, Dure Foods produces dry powder blended product for some 150 SKUs (stock keeping units), including devising custom formulizations, annually producing over four-million kilograms of powders.
“We put out some 20 million one-kilogram packages a years,” notes Malcolm. “And that’s just at the Brantford site.”
Still despite the success, the lessons learned from watching the popularity of whiteners shrink while cappuccinos rose have not been lost on Dure Foods, as it has recently begun manufacturing and offering what it calls a Lifestyle line of powders for those people with more than just a passing fancy for fitness and physical health, featuring meal and protein supplements for every stage of life.
“Although we are still focusing on our core strengths of dry blending, by diversifying our portfolio it provides a buffer in case one of the core markets we cater to begins to follow any type of downward trend,” explains Malcolm. “And if none ever do, then we’ve also strengthened and increased our production.
“It’s win-win.”
According to Malcolm, the number one product manufactured and packaged at Dure Foods is its hot chocolate powder.
He also noted that because the coffee, tea and hot chocolate powder business is seasonal—fewer people look for piping hot drinks in the summer, “the addition of the lifestyles products will hopefully help us bridge the gap.”