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Innovation in food packaging

For almost sixty years, the company Salaet Graphicslocated in Gandesa (Terra Alta), manufactures and markets paper and cardboard products for the food industry and exports them both nationally and internationally. The company, the second with the highest turnover in the region, throughout its years of history has been characterized by innovation and its exponential growth, which has even led it to have several subsidiaries abroad.

The history of the company begins the year 1965, when it was founded in Gandesa and begins to offer paper products focused on industrial and traditional pastry. Currently, it has expanded to more food sectors and already has two sales channels: the distribution of packaging and the production of industrial products for food.

Gráficas Salaet is the second company with the highest turnover in the Terra Alta region

As explained Elena Salaet, CEO of the company together with her sister Eva«the part of the industrialists has been evolving and has maintained the same type of clients, but in the last ten years we have been working above all producing containers for pre-cooked foods, such as frozen or ‘fast food’».

Salaet Graphics Reels. Photo: Joan Revillas.

The manager, in this sense, adds that «we have been diversifying the range of products that we offer and now we have a catalog of more than 1,500 different references». Many of these, ranging from muffin capsules until the packaging for precookedgoing through paper tablecloths for restaurants, are exported internationally.

During the last year Gráficas Salaet invoiced a total of 23 million euros

In fact, 45% of total turnovernot counting what is sold in international subsidiaries, It is marketed in European countries such as Italy or in other areas such as North Africa, the United States and South America.. This export, together with the foreign subsidiaries, one in Argentinawith 60 employees, another two in Romaniawith 40 workers, and another in Algeriarecently opened, make up the international presence of Salaet Graphics.

At the national level, the company has 200 workers in the four plants it has in Gandesa. In these, it has departments dedicated to printing, waxing, metallizing and other complex processes that allow not only to manufacture pieces of paper for confectionery and food, but also has a team dedicated to innovation in the sector.

Internal facilities of the company. Photo: Joan Revillas.

This is an important commitment of the company to evolve, continue to adapt and seek not only the best quality, but also the most sustainable option and, if the client requires it, personalized. “We do a lot of custom projects. We work with a company in collaboration and, based on their guidelines, we start a project that may take two or three years to reach the market. It is something that needs a lot of testing and until we have it validated internally we cannot finish bringing it to market.” In this way, the director, who is already part of the second generation in charge of the company, highlights the great value they have given to innovation as a way of working on new products and researching to improve and develop more sustainable products.

The company has a great commitment to sustainability. For this reason, it works from virgin raw material or from recycled origin and has certificates that corroborate it.

The company has a R+D+i department, thanks to which Gráficas Salaet has managed to create, from certified virgin material or recycled paper and cardboard, «new products based on paper and cardboard that are very functional. An example is a tray that can be frozen and put in the oven and that is also biodegradable, and can be thrown in the blue or organic containers. This is an example of the great challenge that the company has regarding sustainability.

Exponential growth of Gráficas Salaet

Eva and Elena Salaet, general directors. Photo: Joan Revillas.

  • Year 1965 Llorens Salaet and Elena Cervera founded Gráficas Salaet in Gandesa (Terra Alta). The company begins its economic activity offering paper products focused on confectionery and later expands to other food sectors such as doilies for cakes or capsules for muffins.
  • Year 1998 The company opens its first international subsidiary, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where it employs 40 workers.
  • Year 2000 Gráficas Salaet continues to expand internationally with a new subsidiary in Romania.
  • Year 2003 The company inaugurates a production center dedicated to cardboard of 20,000 square meters.
  • Year 2022 Gandesa approves the procedures to expand the Plana industrial estate. This measure would allow the construction of new business buildings and facilitate, among others, the expansion of Gráficas Salaet.

«All the products we make are projects that on many occasions are usually developed directly with companies that want to make the change and we create the product to suit them, according to what they need and the objective they have. In this way, through research we are generating products that are more sustainable.” In accordance with this commitment, the company has certificates that indicate sustainable production processes, such as the FSC, which guarantee the obtaining of raw material from sustainable sources and preserve biodiversity.

To meet its objectives, in recent years, the company has made a great economic effort, investing a total of 6 million euros for actions such as the acquisition of new technology, the expansion of its warehouses in Gandesa or other innovations related to sustainability. “Now there is a real change in the market and people want to change plastic and aluminum. At Salaet we have this internal R+D+i department, from which we have achieved very innovative, sustainable, reusable and compostable products, all based on paper and cardboard».

Its R+D+i department investigates to create sustainable and functional products

The company expands, but continues to have a strong bond with the region. As Elena Salaet explains, “we are very committed to the territory and to what is done here. We understand that the growth of the company is always linked to the development of people and the territory where it is located”.

«For this reason, everything we can do in the region, we do. We are from here and this is a way to grow together,” says Salaet, who details that the company supports cultural, social and sports initiatives in the territory and emphasizes support for other companies in the area: “when we need external services, we try always hire companies from the region or those closest to it».

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