When young entrepreneur Dom Kristy set out to revolutionise the UK dried fruit snack market, he looked to space for inspiration. After finishing a degree in nutritional science at Plymouth University, he set up his own business with the vision to offer a healthy snack option for adults and kids alike. His mission was to produce fruit snacks with no added extras, and the method he chose to preserve the fresh fruit was freeze drying, a technology best known from NASA’s space missions.
“Often people believe they are eating healthy snacks just because they are fruit-based, but too many brands fill their products with extra sugars,” said Dominic, who is determined to help improve bad eating habits. “Freeze drying preserves the taste, texture and colour, and more importantly, the nutritional value of fresh fruit without adding any junk ingredients. We wanted to bring out all the goodness in fruit, make it more easily accessible and improve people’s diet.”
Healthy convenience in fruity flavours
The result of Dominic’s mission was little bite-sized pieces of dried fruit that have the sweet and sour taste of candy, the light crunch of popcorn, and the goodness of real fruit. After several years of perfecting the freeze-drying technique for fresh fruit, the first products from Evolved Snacks hit the market under the tagline ‘Evolved Fruit for the Modern Primate’.
Launched in several delicious fruit combinations, each pack contains less than 50 kcals and has no additives. Dried fruit is also high in fibre, gluten-free and vegan, perfect for people with a range of specific dietary requirements, and the customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Following a slightly unconventional route to market, the new products were first listed on Amazon Prime and also chosen as a supplier for Google’s European HQ, in Dublin. The fruit snacks have now found their way into subscription-based nutritional boxes from the likes of Healthy Nibbles, Love Free From, and Treat Trunks.
“We scaled up during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the wrong time for it, but we also had the opportunity to supply a number of airlines and nationals railways, which we are very proud of,” added Dominic, who has big ambitions for his company. “We want to become an established cross-selling brand, so we are now pushing into retail and hospitality. We want Evolved Snacks to be a household name and lead the way in food innovation for healthy snacks.”
Recyclable pouches packing a punch
The tasty fruit bites are also perfect as toppings for porridge, yoghurt, cereal, in baking and even salads, so to make them even more convenient and respond to customers’ demand, they will now also be available in larger portions, packed in stand-up, resealable pouches produced by ePac UK Silverstone.
“We are introducing this new product, because we realised our customers often used our on-the-go fruit bites as toppings on their porridge, so we felt the need to introduce a bigger pouch, which is resealable so that the fruit stays fresh for longer,” explained Dominic.
But the Evolved team has gone one better with their packaging: the new larger pouches are made from 100% recyclable polyethylene (PE) and printed digitally on ePac’s fleet of HP Indigo presses for the ultimate in sustainability.
“From the start, we wanted recyclable packaging and ePac made this possible for us. When we switched to recyclable, we were scared that it might have a big impact on the barrier properties. This didn’t happen as ePac offered us a high-barrier recyclable option, which was very reassuring for us,” recounted Dominic. “Finding the correct barrier to pack our products also helps to limit food waste, which is what we are trying to support as a company,” he added.
The new pouches are made from a mono-material laminated construction, where one layer of PE is printed and then laminated to another layer of PE to provide strength and durability. This means that they can be recycled where supermarkets provide collection points for plastic shopping bags, such as Tesco’s new recycling scheme for ‘soft’ plastic, which is due to be rolled out nationwide.
“When we first met Dominic, it quickly become clear that our PE-based films, which are fully recyclable, would be just right for Evolved’s new toppings,” said Nick Monk, Sales Director for UK and Ireland. “The films are fully customizable and has high-barrier functionality for optimal product protection. Similar to standard pouch constructions, the films are oxygen and water vapour resistant, bringing the same benefits as existing non-recyclable solutions.”
Keeping it lean with digital print
On top of the great environmental credentials afforded by the filmic material, there are also many added sustainability benefits of digital printing from ePac. These include low minimum order quantities (MOQs) and fast delivery of less than two weeks from artwork approval to finished pouches. All in all, creating a lot less waste compared to the traditional supply chain.
Dominic can simply order the number of pouches he wants, when he wants them, rather than having to order huge MOQs and wait months for them to be produced and delivered. With no printing plates to be made, trying out new designs and concepts is easy and quick, and you don’t end up throwing out loads of unwanted pouches.
“For the new toppings range, we were able to order a small quantity of fully printed pouches from ePac to test the market first, just in case something wasn’t quite right, and we needed to adjust it in the next order, and this was of course enormously helpful for us,” explained Dominic.
Finding a local partner for packaging also speeding up proceedings, with no fears of packaging that had been made abroad ending up stuck in customs and taking ages to arrive. Keeping it local improves the carbon footprint of each pouch, as it has not travelled hundreds, or even thousands, of miles before even being filled.
This agile workflow can mean the difference between a small start-up making it or falling at the packaging hurdle, and the advantages were not lost on Dominic: “The quick turnaround time helped to launch the product to the market as soon as possible, and I think having a local supplier played a big part in this.”
Realizing the dream of sustainable packaging
Getting the right kind of packaging at the right price has been just one of the pieces in the puzzle for Evolved Snacks, albeit a very important one. Starting a new company selling on-the-go snacks during a year of national lockdowns, with so many restrictions on travel, has definitely not been easy, which is why having a great packaging partner has meant so much.
“A special thanks to Christina Coles and the rest of the ePac team, who have been amazing with continuous communication, sending me samples, emails with updates, and even photos of the finished pouches as soon as they were produced!” said Dominic, who has learnt a lot through this new partnership. “Before I met ePac, I didn’t know much about digital print for packaging at all,” he said. “But I can definitely see the difference from our previous pouch. The quality of the graphics is great!”
He concluded, “With the fantastic support from ePac and the team’s expert knowledge of all things flexible packaging, I was able to make my hopes a reality. A lot of young brands want their products to be perfect, and so did I. Right from the start, I wanted the packaging to be sustainable, but that wasn’t possible at the time. So now, the fact that our new range is being launched in sustainable packaging is very exciting. I mean, it’s 100% sustainable!”
Are you looking to realise your dream of sustainable packaging? Contact us today to find out more about our green solutions and see for yourself how digital print and new innovative substrates can get your products to market without damaging the environment.