Yahya Abbas has a degree in civil engineering. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the 59-year-old president and CEO of Ya YA Foods, Toronto, still considers himself to be more of an engineer than a pen pusher. His philosophy is, therefore, not to simply wait and see which challenges happen to come his way, but instead to seize the initiative and actively anticipate the needs of the market.

“I invest and generate capacity; our customers then come to us of their own accord,” said Abbas. “Our clients include the world’s top 10 beverage brands. Some of them have been our customers for 30 years.”

During this time, his company has realized countless ideas for innovative products and a whole host of different packaging types, and now has a wealth of experience in the filling of sensitive beverages.

Unlike many of its competitors, Ya YA Foods doesn’t sell anything under its own brands. This is also part of the philosophy, explained Abbas, in which his company “feels like a partner and not a competitor.”


Right on trend

When Ya YA Foods was founded, it filled high-acid products such as juice, smoothies and tea. Later, as the trend for low-acid products grew, the company increasingly concentrated on vegetable “milk” beverages based on peas, soy and cashews, as well as dairy products. The demand for quality in the aseptic processing of these sensitive products is high.

“Our maxim is not only to meet the regulatory requirements of the FDA or good manufacturing practices, for example, but to exceed them,” Abbas said.

In doing so, Ya YA Foods makes use of modern measurement systems and manufacturing technology. Thanks to its highly automated lines, the bottling plant has only about 65 machine operators working in production who are responsible for a daily output of approximately 1.5 million units.


Hygiene and flexibility

Ya YA Foods procured its very first German machine in 1992 from KHS Group’s predecessor, Holstein & Kappert. In 2010, Abbas again invested in high-tech equipment from the Dortmund, Germany-based systems supplier, acquiring his first aseptic filler, an Innosept Asbofill ABF 71 TWIN with a capacity of up to 24,000 1-liter bottles per hour, from KHS’ American subsidiary. Originally equipped with two sealing machines for film/foil seals, both machine parts have since been converted to screw caps to satisfy growing market demand.

According to Abbas, the machine not only has adhered to the highest hygienic requirements, but also has shown its flexibility.

“Format changeovers in the filler area are quick and trouble-free,” said Abbas. “KHS gave us the best option back in 2010 — and nothing has changed in this respect. This is a very good system, and our contact partners excel with their extensive expertise and many outstanding ideas.”


On course for growth

In June 2018, Ya YA Foods began operating a second KHS aseptic line that fills up to 12,000 1-liter bottles an hour. The line produces smaller batches, which has helped to procure new customers. And that’s not all: In September 2019, another KHS aseptic line will be installed. Abbas said he has plenty of plans for Ya YA Foods and KHS. As of 2020, the next joint project will allow him to offer something to consumers that the market has not yet seen. He doesn't wish to say any more at the moment, but Ya YA Foods plans to keep ahead of the market with this latest innovation.