Mello Joy Weathers Economic Downturn by Bringing Coffee Packaging In-House

Danielle Ohl

Mello Joy coffee was in a serious bind.

The local economy was suffering and costs related to outsourcing their coffee packaging were eating into their bottom line. Something had to give if their business was to remain viable.

As they searched for answers, Mello Joy quickly came to the realization that, for them, outsourcing their packaging was no longer a sustainable option. So they decided to purchase their own coffee packaging equipment to bring it in-house.

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Business Background

Mello Joy logo-400348-edited.jpgLocated in Southern Louisiana, Mello Joy got its start in 1936 and its coffee quickly became the 'talk of the town'. Their products became a must-have for Cajuns and Mello Joy soon became the #1 coffee in Louisiana. In 1976, the owners of Mello Joy sold the business, and within a few years their products, unfortunately, got phased out of the market.

After many years of consumers asking "What happened to Mello Joy?", the company was resurrected with new ownership in 2000. Today The Original Cajun Coffee is available nationwide on grocery store shelves, in restaurants and coffee shops, and in corporate businesses.

Critical Issues

For many years, Mello Joy outsourced the packaging of their coffee to contract packagers. A fine solution, co-packing fulfilled their needs for quite some time. However as related costs began to add up and the economy in Louisiana began to take a dive, General Manager Mike Gregory realized that in order to remain solvent, they needed to bring their coffee packaging in-house.

“We’re in a part of the country that has gone through a tremendous economic downturn. [Louisiana is] very much related to the oil and gas industry as a whole - so while cheap gas is great for the
rest of the country, it’s not so great down here," Mike explains. "When the price per barrel is way below $40-$50/barrel, it shuts down a lot of industries down here. When you start shutting businesses down or cutting down employees, our OCS (Office Coffee Service) [is] affected greatly by headcount at a lot of local businesses." 

Strategy & Solution

This was Mello Joy's first foray into packaging equipment and processes, so they needed a packaging machine manufacturer that could provide them with an expert to guide them through the process. A previous contract packager pointed them to Viking as a reliable partner.

Viking Masek Director of Sales, Bryan Lacy, spent time working one-on-one with Mello Joy, explaining the coffee packaging process in detail. No stone was left unturned so that when it came time to make a decision, Mello Joy was empowered to choose the right packaging solution for their specific needs.

Their purchase of a Viking vertical form fill seal coffee packaging machine quite literally turned their business around. GM Mike Gregory attests:

“If we had not made the decision to move to packaging in-house with the Viking machine, I’m not sure that we’d be here today….It’s changed our bottom line tremendously by bringing it in-house and doing it ourselves.”

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