J & B Foods, who market the Rizo range of desserts has created a very nice niche market for the contract and sub-contract dessert market for a dessert crazy Australian population.
Director of Sales and Marketing, James Babbs, said the company first entered the market making rice desserts and then branched out into the food service area.
"We started supplying some hospitals, nursing homes and independent IGA stores and things just took off," said James with a sense of pride.
"From there, we expanded into private and public hospitals and now we are doing contract and sub-contract work for other people, as well as our own customers, so business is growing."
With no prior food industry experience, James started the business from scratch, competing with other more established creamed rice dessert manufacturers.
Hot on the heels of their rice dessert success, the company expanded into chocolate mousse, tiramisu, cheesecake and other premium desserts, that quickly found their way into the cosmopolitan restaurants in Lygon Street housing some of the most popular Italian eateries in Melbourne.
"RSL clubs followed, then food service for hospitals. We also do work for Coles Supermarkets," added James.
When we first started, we were working one to two days a week. Now, it's seven days a week, so we needed more machinery to keep up with the expanded workload. So that is how Visy Technologies Systems came in.
Prior to Visy, we were putting the use-by date on our packaging cups with a meadow gun. Clicking the gun and printing the 'use-by' date. With that system we were doing about 25-26 cups a minute, which was very time-consuming. So we started looking at an alternative marking system. We got companies to come in who had coding and ink jet machines, to show us what their machines could do and what they could offer.
"At the end of the day, Visy had more to offer than anyone else in the market. It came down to the fact that the type of equipment they had was more cost- effective, plus they stood by their Hitachi machines. Being Hitachi you know it's a reliable company, but I didn't believe how good it could be, until Visy came out.
"Their technicians set up the machine, adjusted the print speed – we had one or two minor problems that were just teething problems – and in hindsight, if we had known the machine better, those problems wouldn't have happened."
He said it took the Visy technician just 10 minutes to set up and 10 minutes to show how the printer worked. We've never had to call Visy back.
"We did production with one major customer which we ran over 25,000 or 30,000 units without a hitch."
"The Hitachi PB just keeps working and keeps printing. It has been absolutely fantastic. Currently, we are marking around 26 cups a minute, but we are getting a new machine to increase production to around 40-42 cups a minute and the Hitachi will handle it no problem. We have already trialled it."