Kőröstej Ltd. are producers of cheese. They are actually one of the leading producers of Kashkaval cheese in the world, but are also producers of over a hundred different kinds of cheese, from Hungarian Trappist and Parenyica, to Middle Eastern Labneh and Chilal, to worldwide cheeses like Grill cheeses and processed cheeses in portions or slices.
The Köröstej Ltd Company has four factories in Hungary. Three of them are producing cheese out of milk and the only factory producing Processed Cheese from hard and semi-hard cheese is in Kacsota, near Pecs.
This plant is only dedicated to the production of Processed Cheese. As the demand is increasing, the factory will be doubled in size next year.

Great success for his owner, Dr. Riad Naboulsi.

Today, we are meeting Mr. Makhoul Louai, Plant Manager and Mr. Ehab, Maintenance Manager.

Mr. Makhoul Louai

1) When have you joined the Köröstej Ltd company and become Plant Manager in this Processed Cheese Factory in Pecs?

I joined the company eight years ago, in 2014. Before, I was working for a multinational company in Syria. When the crisis started over there in 2011, we had to manage the business in a different way under certain hard conditions. Later, it became impossible to continue and we decided to shut down and manage the liquidation. At that time, Doctor Riad Naboulsi – the owner of the Köröstej Ltd company – contacted me and gave me the opportunity to come here to guide this company. Mr. Ehab, our Maintenance Manager and some other employees were working with me in Syria, and it was natural for me to take them with me.

2) What have you brought in the company?

Working in a Western Company, I had a continuous improvement mindset. When I arrived here and analyzed the results, I found that this mindset was missing here. With my experience, I brought various things to Köröstej Ltd, the idea of waste elimination, the desire to increase production and productivity and a special focus on quality.
The world has been changing dramatically and we must adapt very fast to the situation, we have to run certain programs which we believe in, such as Total Productive Maintenance for example or Total Quality Management. These are necessary to keep the profit margins acceptable and keep the business alive.

In the past, continuous improvement was just nice to have, but today, it’s a must have.

3) Speaking about the IWS market, can you speak about your position?

In Hungary we are the only producer, and we know that we are Market Leader in certain countries like Iraq, because we have advantages thanks to the formulas and to our lower costs.
In Europe, we have many competitors, but as we still have an advantage in terms of price, we are penetrating certain markets, like Libya and our market share is growing.
One of our competitors was occupying the 90% of the market, even above and now we know that we have about 20-25% market share in Libya.
The European producers put nutritional values as a top priority, but we are noticing that this will soon not be the case anymore. The consumer will accept to have fewer nutritional values versus a good price. And here we have to work to give them a good product, with acceptable nutritional values but to a cheaper price, in order for them to still purchase the product.

4) Can you speak about one of the Köröstej Ltd strength?

In our factory, one of our strengths is that we can produce good quality products with a lot of cheese formulas. In terms of recipes, our costs are low compared to our competitors. We have around 100 recipes for several customers with different standard spread in different countries and this for triangular portions, cans, cream cheese and so on…
Speaking only about slices, we have about 25 clients and are supplying all Middle East, north Afrika and Uruken countries and for each country, we have standards to respect and several flavors: emmental, burger, mozzarella, light cheese and the DCS 1000-2 allows us to do that. We are very satisfied with his performances. The machine can tackle the variation of cheese density, variety of formulation – of course with some adjustments from the operators. We can supply all our clients and they all are satisfied with the quality of slices we supply, so, we are more than satisfied.

5) And what do you think are the strengths of Sapal? Why did you and Mr. Riad Naboulsi choose our DCS 1000-2 IWS wrapping machine?

Look, honestly, the relationship with Sapal started with me first. In my former company, we bought several Sapal machines, for our plants all over the world. I even remember the first time I saw a Sapal machine. It was in Egypt. It was a great linear long machine, producing square processed cheese portions, very impressive. Then I saw others in Morocco and in France.
I heard from technical engineers how reliable the machines were, their several strengths and so on.
So, when I joined the company in 2014 and started to think about new machines and how to increase the capacity, Sapal has directly been on the table.

We discussed price, productivity, and efficiency and it perfectly fitted our aims. And it has not been easy, because when we decided to produce IWS (Individually Wrapped Slices), we were – and still are – the only company in Hungary to produce slices.

6) How would you describe your relationship with the Sapal Team?

We started the business with Sapal as being just 2 entities, and today, I feel that we are like friends. There is not a week without calling somebody from Sapal, even just to wish us a nice weekend. We know that if we have a problem or a question, we can immediately contact your team. A WhatsApp group has even been created to facilitate the interaction and always get a fast help.

I think that it’s important to have a good relationship and a good reputation, because our Industry is such a small world, we should avoid conflicts and maintain a nice relationship. Sometimes we must discuss prices of course, but if the supplier understands our situation and how this impacts our production and what could be the result in the future, I think they will try to do a compromise.
I can say that all the suppliers we have are professionals and understand our industry and our issues.

You know, I think this is decisive when you buy a machine. You don’t have to look just to the price or the technology of the machine. The Customer Service is at the top of our priority because how to keep the machine running smoothly is the big question for us. Especially here in Hungary, because it’s hard to find skilled people, so we definitively need third party support.

We highly appreciate that the Sapal Team is here for us whenever we need them. They are more than professional, they have an outstanding attitude, they act fast and always do their best. That is exactly what we expect from them.

7)You recently purchased a Sapal DCS 1000-2, what do you think about the it is operated?

Whenever we speak about high-speed machine, which is the case with the DCS 1000-2 producing 1000 products per minute, this means special mindset, special operators, special attention. I think that it’s really important to do Preventive Maintenance because we have to optimize the cost of production, by increasing the speed to the maximum. This is our target.
The technician managing the DCS 1000-2 isn’t a normal production worker, he is engineer. It was important and necessary for us to have somebody who can interfere at the first level of maintenance and do certain adjustments to keep the machine at the highest speed. Whenever we put the machine under production, it must run at the highest speed, minimize set up and changing foils, this is our mentality. Therefore, we have high-skilled people who are managing the machine.
At the beginning, seeing all the modules on the machine – unwinder, forming group, sealing, cutting… and considering the speed of it, it was impressive, but then, when you get used to it, you understand that it’s an advanced machine full of technology, but not complex or hard to use. This is a great advantage of the machine. The parts are easy to change, the problems are easy to be solved and the machine is very easy to maintain.

8) I imagine that efficiency and quality of the packaging are one of the most important things you’re looking for in the machines. What could you say about the Sapal wrapping machine?

Regarding the material, we used a foil that was thicker to wrap our slices and today we tried with another producer a thinner foil. When trying this film on the DCS 1000-1 there has been no problem. We were happy to see that the machine was capable to use the thinner foil with an acceptance range.
Regarding the sealing done on the DCS 1000-1, we have a great advantage because it’s wider than the one of our competitors.This guarantees no leakage and a safer product for the end consumer. Since we started producing slices, I never heard negative feedback, no one never complained about the packaging.

9)As from your point of view, what is the best part of the machine and why (forming, cutting, stacking…)?

Personally, the first thing that come on my mind is the high-speed of the machine, because it reduces our productivity costs.
At Köröstej Ltd, either we run at the highest speed, or we don’t. We do not accept to be in the middle.
The second great point is the easy access of the machine, we can work on the machine even when running. We have very few downtimes. This is of course also linked to the Preventive Maintenance we do on the machine; this really allows us to reduce the number of stops of the machine and their duration too.
We frequently have maintenance done on our machine – planned in cooperation with the Sapal Team – and this is perfect for us. We receive advice on which parts should be changed to maintain a good production. We can order original spare parts on time to avoid any unforeseen stops. If you take care of your investment, it will be reliable. In terms of Service, we also have a Remote Agreement with Sapal.

10) What can you say about the quality of the slices?

Our competitors in Hungary are producing their slices in Germany or Poland and if we look at the slices in the flow pack, we can notice different thickness of the slices, and this never happen with the DCS 1000-2. For me it’s a great strength of it. All the slices are homogenous, have the exact same thickness, and their shape is perfect. The control of the weight or the overrunning production is very simple. Whenever we increase or decrease the speed of the machine, we must check the weight. As far as the texture of the cheese is stable, the machine always keeps the control of the weight all over the production. The weight of the slices we pack goes from 16gr up to 30gr. and the result is always good.

11) You certainly know that you can pack light cheese or cheese with ingredients with your DCS 1000-2. Have you ever tried or is it something that could interest you?

We work with flavors, but without ingredients. We don’t add herbs or other ingredients to give a special test, only cheese flavors.

12) How do you usually work: Do you suggest new products to your customer, or do they come with requests you try to fulfill?

It depends on the situation. Sometimes clients ask for products they would like to produce to imitate market leader, but with a cheaper price and sometimes, we have sudden circumstances for certain countries like in Iraq where they have inflation. Their request come because their product becomes no more affordable. As we have internally some technologists that regularly work on formulas development, we work on their recipe and develop a new product for them that would be cheaper and that they could keep selling at the same price.

13) Last question, how do you see the future?

The future seems to be positive for us for two reasons.
Currently, we are running almost full capacity, 5 days per week and producing thousand tons per month. But we have a negotiable capacity, meaning that if we would like, we could also work Saturdays and Sundays. So, we still have a small capacity to use. But yes, the intention is also to grow our production soon. To be honest, we have more demand than what we are currently producing. Increasing is a must.
Actually, we were thinking in purchasing a new machine when we received the communication about your new DCS 0500, the IWS scalable machine that you can upgrade from 500 to 1000 slices per minute. Köröstej Ltd is also working with a big company to open a new factory in Iraq, therefore we are thinking to purchase this new machine for Pecs and send over there the DCS 1000-2 that we have here.

Plus, some big multinational companies active in the Processed Cheese production are subcontracting companies of our size to produce some of their SKU that have a small volume of production.
In fact, these big companies do not have the flexibility we can have to produce small volumes for different SKU.

So, the future is bright at two levels. First, we have more demand and secondly, we see that the future is for companies like ours.

Mr. Ehab Alsaner, Maintenance Manager at Köröstej Ltd since 2018 is called by his colleague the “Lapka Star”, understand here the star of the slices.

He brought to the Koröstej Ltd company some partnerships and contributed quite a lot in having an engineering point of view on the packaging machines, bringing professionalism into their activities.



Sapal did an electrical overhaul hardware & software of the complete AA-06 n°10954 distribution system

The advantage to do such an upgrade are to:

  • Bring the equipment to the last technology available
  • Increase the lifecycle of the equipment
  • Secure the machine productivity due to the component availability


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