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A gourmet view of printing

As a lad growing up in a small town in the South of England at the end of the 70s and into the early 80s, Britain was a very different place to the vibrant, technology savvy world of 2015. The BBC News fed us a diet of strikes, bad weather, wars, football hooligans and more strikes and more bad weather. Money was tight and the aspirations of many of my fellow inmates at Branksome Heath School were limited to getting a job, getting married and buying a second hand Triumph Stag.

Without doubt the greyest, blandest area of our society was the food. It was terrible. Jamie Oliver hadn’t been invented, Delia was still singing her heart out on the River End at Carrow Road, Rick Stein was still running a mobile disco called The Purple Tiger and Gordon Ramsey hadn’t offered his first ‘Eff or Jeff’ in public.

We lived on an unedifying diet of roasts and casseroles that had been cooked to a point whereby a forensic pathologist would have struggled to establish the meats provenance. This was usually accompanied by soggy veg, Smash and Bisto. Pies were filled with tinned ‘meat’, Campbells Meatballs, spaghetti hoops, fish fingers very much the order of the day. If you came from a more enlightened family, Vesta Curries and the odd, newly arrived Chinese Takeaway were deemed a daring and adventurous treat. All truly grim (apart from the still magnificent fish finger sandwich)

Come the late 80’s and early 90’s, the invention of the internet, travel for all, especially the young and the advent of cheap to make, wall to wall cookery programmes on TV changed the culinary habits of a nation in short order. All of a sudden supermarket shelves were groaning with exotic spices, fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil, fresh pasta, chorizo, garlic and organic this that and the other. Gone forever were the days when we all thought Tortellini was the left back for AC Milan.

Now you may be wondering what these musings on the gastronomic wellbeing of the country has to do with catalogue printing. Well, bear with me. Over the past ten years or so the British Web Offset Printing Industry, the heartbeat of catalogue and brochure production, has collapsed to the point where there are only three major players left in the UK alongside a very limited number of ‘Independents’. All of which have a similar, bland offering, largely aimed at the Magazine market. Over thirty factories have closed during that period of time, leaving the average UK buyer with a very limited choice of printer or press configuration. To put it bluntly, it is all a bit meat and two veg.

Just as in the 90s when our Continental cousins provided exciting new flavours to tickle our taste buds, it is again time to look to our near neighbours to help us meet our print production needs. The wise print buyer only needs to glance across the Channel and consider the potent combination of favourable exchange rates, cheaper paper prices and a vast array of press specifications which make the prospect of printing abroad almost irresistible. One German factory contains in excess of thirty web offset presses, a veritable Smorgasbord. That is almost the entire UK web capacity under one roof.

One constant refrain from the Coronation Street, Crossroads Motel loving brigade (People like my otherwise wonderful gran who traumatised me with both) is ‘It must cost a fortune to deliver back to the UK’. No. No. No. One of the reasons paper is so expensive in the UK is that it has to be shipped across the Channel and that cost is factored in to the tonne rate. In most cases the combination of significantly cheaper paper, minus the UK levy in Europe and the fact you are not shipping your waste (Every web offset job will have both make ready and running waste) more than compensates for any uplift in haulage.

However, just as when Delia and Jamie watched over us as cooked our first Lasagne or Boeuf Bourguignon you may feel you need the comfort of a safe pair of hands to guide you through the ins and outs of producing your job on the Continent. The Callimedia team have been managing products abroad since 1996. They have an extensive list of supply partners, covering Rotogravure, Web Offset and large format Sheetfed, in Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, Holland, Poland and Belgium who can offer your business a new prospective on catalogue or brochure production.

Paella anybody?

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