A young Nuneaton businessman’s vision of alternative packaging for the dry food market has moved a step closer to reality after landing a major investment.
Ali Sayed, a Business graduate from Coventry University, channeled his frustration with existing plastic packaging into an extensive research programme to revolutionise how food is prepared, handled and stored fresher for longer.
After much vigorous testing, Ali eventually found the perfect prototype in the form of a multi-layered plastic film with oxygen barrier properties which is recyclable after use.
The 23-year-old carried out his research while based at the Centenary Business Centre in Nuneaton, and with his new concept lined up, he founded AM Foods International in 2018.
Following his investment to design the packaging, Ali was awarded a £4,852 grant through Coventry City Council to prepare the business to bring its products to market. He also received support from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub.
The grant helped to fund the purchase of machinery to fill dry foods, such as pure basmati rice and lentils, into the new unique packaging. The investment also secured a transport vehicle to deliver products across the region.
The grant programme forms part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Support Programme is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)and has also helped with the appointment of new staff members in sales and business development.
“I am really proud to have designed a product which I believe truly transforms the experience for our future customers,” said Ali.
“To give an idea of the quality, we tested the packaging on some almonds by opening the packaging every day for two months – usually when first opened they become stale after three to four days but in this case, they were still fresh and edible state after eight week testing period.
“My father, who has years of in-depth food packaging experience, supported me in testing this concept idea. I also spent a lot of time testing various types of existing packaging, which has allowed me to solve problems along the way to come up with a first-class product that helps to extend the life of dry food.
“After overcoming the barriers of completing a fully functional prototype and developing the right infrastructure, we were still faced with the operational challenges of how we were going to fill the packs with dry food and distribute to customers.
“I was put in touch with the Growth Hub by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, who have been brilliant in recognising the potential of my business and helping me to fund equipment that will enable me to distribute my products nationwide before going global.
“I have been demonstrating the product to some of the UK’s biggest supermarket names and have already started working with independent supermarkets as we look to grow the business over the coming months.”
Ali has received business development support from Sarah Gambrall, Business Navigator at the CWLEP Growth Hub, and Kierandeep Bal, Business Development Advisor at Coventry City Council.
Kierandeep Bal, business adviser at Coventry City Council said, “I am pleased that we have been able to support Ali and his business by providing the correct advice and guidance in developing his new packaging and I look forward to seeing it hit the shelves”
Sarah added: “Ali is a brilliant example to upcoming entrepreneurs that prove perseverance and networking are the keys to success.
“He has a business that is striving to carve out its own niche by solving a problem, and through his determination is now in a position to secure clients and grow his business.
“By asking for professional help and guidance, Ali has shown that cost isn’t always a barrier to developing an idea, and through this new equipment, AM Foods International now has the right foundations in place to capitalise on sales opportunities.”