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Success story Cwood, Seoul, South Korea

Cwood is a business which has specialized in the production of seasoned seaweed for over ten years. Situated in Gimpo, to the east of Seoul, the company has four main products, Homeplus, Lotte Mart, Nonghyup and Choroc.

Cwood, Seoul, South Korea

Creating high quality produce is a key objective for Cwood, especially as the company is developing its plans to export around the world, expanding on its current export markets of China and Japan.

The company currently manufactures one million packs seasoned seaweed per month and has annual sales of €11m. 

UNPRECEDENTED FOREIGN OBJECT & BRAND REPUTATION

Mr. Park Eun-Kyu, CEO, said: “Cwood has always produced a range of high-quality products. However, in 2011, when all our food sorting was undertaken manually, an unprecedented foreign object was found. Because of this it was decided to automate our sorting process.”

“Following the detection of an unprecedented foreign object we knew we needed to ensure it never happened again.” (Mr. Park Eun-Kyu, CEO, Cwood Co.)


After Cwood reported the issue, the Korea Food & Drug Administration undertook a full inspection of its factory. The problem facing the company was that a manual sorting process collects no data to explain where foreign material originates from.

After investigating several options, Cwood initially concluded that to sort out all defects it would need to install several machines, which would have caused too much product loss and, in some cases, the company’s capacity was too high for some sorters.

Mr. Park Eun-Kyu, CEO, Cwood Co.

Mr. Park continues: “Serious defect claims can have a significant impact on a food manufacturer so to prevent that such an incident would happen again we needed to partner with a company that could not only provide us with a trustworthy sorting solution, but could also provide us with ongoing support and crucially, data. To achieve this we decided to partner with TOMRA.”

“The reputational and financial impact of a serious defect claim can be devastating for a company, but sorting technology can be used to effectively manage and reduce issues.” (Mr. Park Eun-Kyu, CEO, Cwood Co.)


SORTING SOLUTIONS IN ACTION

Following the decision to partner with TOMRA, Mr. Park, CEO of Cwood, was invited to visit Belgium for a tour of the TOMRA factory and to see its sorting solutions first hand.

Mr. Park, adds: “During our tour of TOMRA’s Belgian facility, Mr. Park put a small piece of black tape in with some seaweed being sorted. During the demonstration, the Genius optical belt sorting machine identified and extracted the tape, and within half an hour we decided to purchase the sorter.”

Cwood initially purchased a Genius 640 for sorting seaweed, but it has since increased its number of TOMRA machines to two, using the first machine to sort dried shrimp and adding a Genius 1200 to its seaweed production line. Prior to investing in the sorter, Cwood experienced ten defect claims, but since the partnership it has only had one, which the company was able to identify as a problem during the packaging stage of the process, not while sorting.

“The demonstration of TOMRA’s Genius machine passed our CEO’s analysis in Belgium, and made the choice to purchase it even easier.” (Mr. Park Eun-Kyu, CEO, Cwood Co.)


Mr. Park said: “A key strength of TOMRA’s Genius machine was its ability to sort not only on colour, but against other important criteria such as a product’s density, and humidity.”

Seaweed and dried shrimp sorting with TOMRA's Genius sorting machine

TOMRA’s Genius removes all unwanted discoloration and foreign material from many additional food applications such as vegetables, fresh cut, potatoes and nuts ensuring safe and excellent quality food.

FROM MANUAL SORTING TO AUTOMATION

Mr. Park concludes: “Installing a TOMRA Genius was a significant investment; however, this is offset by various criteria, including savings in man hours for manual sorting staff, who are paid a comparable amount to some European countries, have been able to reduce from 15 to seven. From a reputational perspective, the TOMRA Genius encourages trust in our brand, in-turn increasing sales.

“The installation also allows us to develop our business internationally as we can sort against food standards criteria set by the importing country. In the future, we may look to export further around the world and with strict criteria set by markets in the United States, Australia and Europe, it’s vital we have the processes in place to ensure we meet those criteria.”