Mussels from the Mont-Saint-Michel bay are safe in SCA boxes

This is the story of a successful eco-imaginative collaboration between Mytilimer and SCA Packaging France.

The company Mytilimer, located in Vivier sur Mer in Brittany, is the leader in selling “bouchots” mussels bred in the Mont Saint Michel bay. This company was created in 2004 and employs around 20 people.  It produces 5000 tons of shells per year with a turnover of 15 million euros.

What are Bouchots?

It is the name for wooden poles that are solidly planted in the seashore which allow shells clinging to and are uncovered when tides goes out. These are not just any kind of mussels, they are A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée or Controlled Origin Name brand) ones. These particular mussels coming from Mont Saint Michel bay which was the first place to brand a seafood product!.

There is expanding growth in the seafood tray market so Mytilimer has decided to expand and build another productio
n plant in Cancale.

Like all the other producers in this segment, Mytilimer packs its production in sealed 1 to 2 kg plastic trays which are delivered in cardboard boxes supplied by SCA Packaging selling points.

Mytilimer wanted to improve on the design and effectiveness of their present crates as they were challenged with fragility at the bottom of the pallet due to stacking.  They also had challenges related to aeration holes in the boxes. Sometimes the covers of the trays were punctured when arriving with the customer. It was labour intensive to assembling and filling the boxes, resulting in ergonomic problems with box flaps, hence the need to address the challenges in this competitive climate..

Before moving to the new plant of Cancale, Olivier Kerbiriou, Production Manager at Mytilimer, asked Stephane Nedellec, their account manager, and David Keryaouen, Development & Mechanisation Manager, to address these issues and find appropriate solutions.

What was the solution?

The team involved decided to change from an American box to a mechanized tray linked to a robotized line assuring automatic and accurate piling of the trays which decreased damage.

Furthermore, this eco-imaginative solution enabled MYTILIMER to reduce their cardboard purchasing costs by 19%, their consumption costs by  40%, their pallets handling costs by  48%, their storage area by  33%, their packaging weight by 16% and consequently their CO² emissions by  22 tons.

After a 3 months period, Stephane Nedellec and David Keryjaouen interviewed Olivier Kerbiriou to get his feedback on the implemented changes:


SCA: What value did SCA bring you when your packaging system was in review?

O.B: They took into account my issues and shared their excellent knowledge in mechanization and robots. I particularly appreciated their assistance when we started speaking with mechanization suppliers which we were unfamiliar with our production.

SCA also presented good alternatives to sell this project, internally as well as to our customers and carriers. We found these alternatives very valuable and the focus of environmental aspects (weight, CO² emission) had a strong impact on our retailer customer’s acceptance. This was proof that an ecological concept does not always mean extra costs!

SCA: How did retailers and carriers react when you presented this new packaging system?
O.B: They were reluctant at first, as the market mainly uses American boxes and our solution represented very different solution.
However, the alternatives and supporting arguments SCA put forward really reassured them. Furthermore, other activities in the seafood business such as shrimps and salmon had already switched to open trays which opened the door for us also.

SCA: What is your feedback after 3 months?

O.B: I haven’t any negative feedback from retailers, so I think that the new system is working well.
As far as carriers are concerned, they are quite enthusiastic.  They noticed a better stability of their palletized loads and some even began removing the plastic film they use to put around pallets as it was no longer an issue.
We also noticed our products were refrigerated better once they were placed in the trays.

In short, I am highly satisfied with process and outcome as well as the partnerships created between the different project members.

SCA: What will your next packaging evolution be?
O.B: We are now looking at solutions for our primary package. Thanks to architectural opportunities and thickness reductions of the sealing film, we should cut our plastic trays weight by 12 g. However, other options must be well thought out and tested as our products are be rather abrasive to the packaging.

Our main concerns are differentiating our products from our competitors. Only 3 foreign suppliers share most of the plastic trays market and personalisation of this packaging in terms of shape or colour brings additional costs which cannot be justified in the present highly aggressive market.

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For more information please contact:

Evelyne Célérier
SCA Packaging France   
+33 2 40 84 55 51