Nola Baking Co.

Nola Baking Co. Differentiates its Granola in Custom, Stand-Up Pouches

Nola Baking Co. is the playful and nutritious Toronto-based granola brand operated by founder Julie Mitz, a lawyer and mother of three who decided to leave corporate life behind to pursue her passion: healthy eating. 

Julie Mitz, Founder, Nola Baking Co.

“I was looking for something more fulfilling than contract negotiation. So, when I started working part-time, I began exploring my other interests,” said Julie.

Julie is passionate about the great outdoors, as well as healthy eating. 

“While training for a marathon in 2017, I began looking for snacks that could fuel my run and couldn’t find many. So, I started to make a nut-based granola that was high in protein with no refined sugar,” she said.

Few granola options on the market offered the protein and low sugar she craved, so Julie made her own. Seeing her granola so well received by friends and family, combined with the lack of nutritious options on shelves, Julie saw her opportunity and in 2019 she launched Nola.

Custom Pouches for the Win 

Understanding the importance of a great granola package, and great design, Julie launched Nola straight to digitally printed packages so her product could stand out from traditional granola brands. 

“I decided to print the bags digitally because I wanted to differentiate from the boring or ordinary bags on the market and stand out,” said Julie.

Julie says she began working with another digital printer but moved over to ePac when a colleague introduced her to the team. 

“ePac seemed very professional and knowledgeable, and had better pricing. They explained all of the materials and packaging options,” described Julie. “Plus, they have their own facility and thus have more control over the timeline. I felt there was more transparency in the relationship. And the turnaround time is really attractive. As a new company, orders ebb and flow. When we find a new customer, we really need new packaging quickly… ePac helps us meet production goals and deadlines.” 

With digital printing packaging, brands of all sizes are able to print small runs as they launch or relaunch products. This way they can order just what they need. And if a design or certification changes, as Nola had experienced, brands can make a quick design change and do another production run, without facing obsolescence. 

“The most attractive thing about digital printing is that we don’t have to commit to a plate― we can easily make changes to the design on each production run and can order smaller runs if we know that changes are coming,” said Julie.

It’s All About the Packaging 

To launch the brand, Julie understood that the right package was necessary for retailers to get excited about the brand and take the start-up seriously. 

“When I first started out, I went to all the independent grocery stores and dropped off samples. I got such a positive response, and I got great placement. A large part of that was due to the packaging… retailers want their stores to look pretty too. You can’t have an amazing product in an unattractive package design,” said Julie.

Today, Nola prints its colorful packaging at ePac’s new Toronto office. The granola is sold at over 200 locations across Canada, including stores like Whole Foods, Healthy Planet, and IGA, as well as online. The brand sells eight SKUs in mini and full-sized resealable stand-up pouches featuring vibrant colors and an image of the delicious granola inside. The colorful and playful pouches stand out from the busy granola shelf by offering a more creative approach to the segment.

“I don’t think we would have gotten where we are today without the packaging we have. Granola is a saturated category― you need something to draw customers in. Digital printing can help you look more professional… more established than you are. It gives you credibility up front,” said Julie. “ePac helped get our product packaged beautifully so we could attract customers to our product in an exciting way.” 

And the brand is only at the beginning of its journey. Julie says she is working on a new product line designed for children and families to satisfy the challenge of finding nutritious snacks for kids. 

“We want to expand our business beyond granola to become a healthy food company for the entire family,” said Julie.

With digital printing, brands like Nola can leverage short runs & flexibility to order just what they need and then order more as the brand grows. Plus, they can make changes on the fly, update the stand up package before each run & take advantage of variable data printing to create new and unique designs all year long. Curious about how ePac can help you launch or grow your brand? Call us today.

Without Printing Plates, One Guilt-Free Brownie Company Finds the Space It Needs to Grow

Eat Me Guilt Free is a woman-owned specialty baked goods company that currently produces “guilt-free” brownies and cookies. The sweets are all low-calorie, low carb, and high in protein. 

Founder and owner, Cristie Besu, is a registered nurse and certified sports nutritionist that created the line of protein-rich snacks in response to her clients asking for a sweet treat that wouldn’t derail their diet plan. So, Besu started baking the specialty brownies in her kitchen. She eventually perfected the recipe and created a whole line-up of baked goods, teaching herself how to run a business through research, resourcefulness, and creativity.

“I received a lot of satisfaction seeing people make life changes. I quickly realized that it would be impactful to make a whole product line,” explains Besu.

While the product’s recipe and packaging both have evolved since the original trial run, her goal has stayed the same: to deliver a great tasting and convenient protein product to satisfy any sweet cravings.  

It has always been important to Besu that everything be made local in Miami, Florida. She was born and raised in Miami, raised her three children there, and wanted her business to support her community in the same way it’s supported her, from her product to her employees to her vendors. Every protein-packed sweet is made in 2 commercial kitchens in Miami. Besu works hard to give young Miami women with entrepreneurial spirit room to grow in her company. And once ePac came to Miami, she knew it was the perfect way to keep her packaging local as well.

In the beginning, Besu was baking the brownies in her own kitchen, and packaging them with plastic wrap and printed stickers. Now the line of baked goods is made by skilled bakers in commercial kitchens, and packaged in digitally printed lay-flat pouches from ePac. But before she discovered ePac’s digitally printed pouches, she hit some bakery packaging roadblocks along the way.

Eat Me Guilt Free’s baked goods with long shelf life

The Packaging Journey

When Besu originally began to scale the company, she hired a conventional printer that had high order minimums, needed plates for each package SKU, and required a new plate for any changes made to an existing SKU. Because of this, Besu had to sacrifice her flavor line-up to be able to afford the new packaging. 

“We started with a clear film and a sticker, then went to printed flow-wrapped film, but with a young company like ours, it was hard to pay for the plates for each SKU. So, we were forced to only sell one flavor at that point,” says Besu.

That was a major disappointment for Besu who, from the start, strived to offer a variety of options to her customers, as well as respond to consumer requests for new flavors. 

“The cost prevented us from responding to our consumers as we were growing,” says Besu.

But when ePac came to Besu’s operation in Miami, FL, she was introduced to a completely new way of creating baked goods packaging, one that would allow her to sell as many flavors and varieties as she could dream of. 

And it was all because of digital printing.

With digital printing, brands like Eat Me Guilt Free can order one short print run with various unique designs, without any plates or set-up fees. And since the technology specializes in short runs, brands aren’t forced to order tens of thousands of the same SKU. The flexibility with digital printing also allows brands to make changes to existing packaging, be it a new design or updated nutrition information. 

“Digital printing allows us to easily make changes to comply with any new government requirements on packaging, as well as release new flavors, without using plates. We started selling more once we got with ePac and we were able to improve the look and consistency of the package. Plus, they worked with us to keep our costs down,” says Besu.

But perhaps the most important result of utilizing digital printing technology is that it allows Besu to better respond to her customers, and create new flavors to keep the brand relevant.

“Digital printing feels really nonrestrictive. With plates I felt like I couldn’t make a change, but digital allows us to. We are always trying to be edgy, and respond to our consumers, and what they ask for. We take consumer feedback to heart. Whenever we get suggestions, we try to incorporate it, and now we can make changes to our packaging,” says Besu.

Some of Eat Me Guilt Free’s baked goods packaging

A Better Package and A Better Experience With Digital 

In the beginning, the Eat Me Guilt Free products were sold 100% direct to consumer. But now, in part because of the improved packaging, the line is sold in local Florida grocers, online, and to independent retailers nationwide. In fact, starting in early 2020, Eat Me Guilt Free’s eight SKUs will be available in every Vitamin Shoppe nationwide.

The new packaging partnership has not only allowed the brand to grow, but to correct some packaging problems that plagued the company early on. 

“While the (old) packages were being handled, they would easily open, creating all sorts of problems,” says Besu.

ePac’s pouches are made from high-quality film that provides a tight seal to prevent this problem, and aid in product freshness. They also feature high barrier properties that work to extend the shelf life of the product inside. Eat Me Guilt Free is utilizing ePac’s fully custom digitally printed lay-flat pouches for all eight flavors that the brand sells, plus the new varieties released seasonally. Besu says that more flavors are in the works to keep the brand fresh. 

“Part of our marketing strategy is to constantly change flavors. With ePac, we are able to consistently change our packaging and it doesn’t cost us any more to do that– this is key for us,” says Besu. 

With digital printing, brands like Eat Me Guilt Free enjoy low order minimums, fast turnaround, and competitive pricing for high quality, custom pouches. And this can make all the difference for growing brands, since digital printing helps brand to scale and grow. In fact, according to Besu, working with ePac has helped the “guilt-free” baked goods company grow tenfold. 

“ePac supported our growth. When we needed better pricing and faster service, they were able to accommodate,” says Besu.

Ready to see how digitally printed flexible packaging can help you achieve your marketing goals, and help your small business grow? Call us today!

That’s A Wrap! Wrapping Up Baked Goods for Optimum Freshness

Who doesn’t love warm, fresh-baked bread? Or, a perfectly moist cake? Bakery items are the ultimate comfort food, whether it be sweet cakes, pies, savory bagels or fresh-baked bread, we all can agree that baked goods make us feel a little bit better after a long day. To give us all that comfort we crave, bakery brands are baking up more offerings in various styles, with more nutritional benefits than ever before.

But, before you go baking away, it’s important to understand some key consumer trends, and package considerations to make sure your product succeeds.

Consumer Trends in the Baked Goods Industry

As consumers shop for baked goods, there are two important trends that influence their purchase decisions. One is their desire for healthier options, be it gluten-free, low-carb, low-sugar or organic. The other appears to be somewhat the opposite, and that is their desire to indulge, with decadent, premium ingredients in small-batch, or artisan varieties. Either way, consumers know what they want and are usually willing to pay a premium price if they feel that the item satisfies one (or both) of these desires.

And satisfy they will, because there is plenty to choose from, from the household name brands to the local bakery or private label, consumers can easily find what they need (or want). What’s really unique to this industry is the influx of small and local bakeries offering up some great options to compete with the big names. According to the American Bakers Association, the U.S. bakery business is highly fragmented, made up of almost 3,000 independent bakeries (65% of which have less than 10 employees) that bring in annual revenue of $30 million. Another 6,000 retail bakeries bring in an additional $3 billion, with 50 of the largest companies generating 75% of this revenue. With so many small to medium-sized businesses in the sector, it’s important for these brands to create a product that will stand out from the competition, in packaging to match.

If you’re a new-to-market bakery brand or a seasoned veteran of the industry, then you know the importance of staying on top of the ever-changing trends in product and packaging. Your success depends on staying top of mind for consumers as they search for healthy, comforting and indulgent baked goods to fit their lifestyles.

Bakery Product Packaging Speaks

Packagers are constantly creating bakery items to meet the variety of dietary restrictions and plans that consumers are following. From gluten-free to preservative-free, organic, and other trends like Paleo Diet, and Ketogenic, consumers are looking for specific products to fit their dietary needs. As the package is the first thing that the consumer sees and interacts with, it’s key that it relays all the pertinent messaging straightaway.

To aid in this, consider using very descriptive language so consumers feel enticed (and informed) by your brand. For example, consider using “whole-grain, fresh-baked sesame loaf” instead of merely “sesame bread.” If it’s a low-carb, or gluten-free offering, be sure that this language is clearly depicted so consumers can quickly see that this is the item for them. Call out any allergy information, dietary compliance, and other key differentiators so that you take the guesswork out of grocery shopping for today’s busy consumer.

Show Me the Muffin: The Power of a Package Window

Sometimes it’s what the package says, and sometimes it’s what the package doesn’t say, but rather shows, because, what really pulls consumers in when choosing a bakery item or baked good product? It’s all about appearances!

Does your item look good, like really good? Does it look fresh, soft, savory, sweet? If so, make sure your package shows off the items inside, with a large clear window to lure consumers in. Since consumers cannot smell and taste the product, it’s important that the package allows for the product to be front and center.

The package itself should also tell a strong brand story, including enticing product description, high-impact graphics, and branding. They say we eat with our eyes first, and that is so true when it comes to baked items, so give consumers something to feast on.

The Right Films Deliver Freshness

The best bakery item goes far beyond an appealing design, or appetizing product. The right package must protect the product inside, keeping the bread, muffin, cake, or roll at its peak freshness for consumer use.

How? Moisture and oxygen threaten the product’s freshness, and when present can cause the product to become stale, or even moldy. Because of this, the packaging must work to retain moisture and texture, and allow for extended shelf life. To aid in this, a high-quality seal is imperative, keeping air out.

In addition to the bag working to keep the baked item fresh, the use of an oxygen absorber inside the bag is also key to a package’s success, as is high-barrier films to ensure product freshness. Fresher product means happier customers and longer shelf life for both manufacturers and consumers, resulting in less waste. This can go a long way in building brand loyalty, too!

An optimum bakery package should keep the product fresh, for an extended period of time, and convey key messaging so consumers can easily pick which product is right for them. The right package keeps air out and flavor in, all while showcasing the baked deliciousness inside.

Finding The Right Baked Good Flexible Packaging Partner

Are you looking for a partner to help you develop the flexible packaging for your baked goods? At ePac, we work alongside you to develop a winning package that will keep your product fresh and draw consumer attention, all delivered to you quickly, with digital printing. Digital printing allows you the convenience of low minimum orders, a fast turnaround, and superior graphics to get your baked goods onto store shelves and into consumers’ carts. Contact us today to see if we’re a good fit for your needs.


For Iya Foods, It’s ALL About Connecting with Consumers Through Packaging

Toyin Kolawole loves food. She also has a natural talent for business, an entrepreneurial spirit, and an eye for great packaging.

Kolawole was born in Nigeria to an entrepreneurial family that owned several businesses, including a local store. It was there that she learned a sense of what customers want, how to best serve them, and how to run a business. After she arrived in the U.S., Kolawole worked for various Fortune 500 brands. She explored American food culture, flavors, packaging, and the culinary landscape, to discover trend towards African flavors & influences.

In 2015, she took her passion for all things culinary, her entrepreneurial background, and her love for West African cooking to start Iya Foods just outside of Chicago, Illinois. The food company specializes in farm-to-table sauces, gluten-free flours, spices, and edible flowers, all sourced directly from traceable, sustainable farms and small, local businesses. In fact, local is so important to owner Toyin Kolawole that she tries to source as much as she can from American companies. Today, Iya Foods is available at Amazon, Wal-Mart, and various retailers.

A Great Product Deserves A Great Package

For her clean ingredients, clean food line, Kolawole was previously packaging her products in generic clear flexible pouches with a sticker label. While it was packaging the food well enough, the pouches were not well-received by consumers or retailers. Several large retailers told her that while she had a great product, she needed better packaging to reach consumers. And, she needed better packaging before they would put her products on their shelf.

Iya Food’s packaging before working with ePac

What’s more is that the line did not have brand consistency, with no common images or design throughout. To succeed in the market, she knew she needed a better package.

“Packaging communicates with the customer in three seconds or less, and in that time, they determine whether or not to buy the product,” says Kolawole. And Kolawole is right, packaging is often times the first interaction a customer has with your brand and your products.

Because of this, she knew she needed packaging that could quickly communicate what the product is and why the consumer needs it. She also knew she needed a highly visual package since American culture is moving so much toward social media, where people communicate first with pictures and graphics.

To really be successful, Kolawole knew she needed a major packaging overhaul, from the design to the package itself. She also knew that she needed to create a comprehensive look for her brand that would follow suit for each product in the line-up. Finally, yet most importantly, Kolawole needed a package that would truly connect with her customer base. She wanted to build brand recognition and tell a story through her packaging that would get consumers to pick her products time and time again.

Digital Printing and ePac Allowed Iya Foods To Get Noticed, BIG Time

To accomplish her goals, Kolawole was searching for something specific: a company that understood small businesses, didn’t have extra fees (like plate fees) and could accommodate low minimum orders, while still producing a high-quality pouch. Kolawole learned that digital printing could deliver everything she was looking for, and more, but she didn’t think that she could make the leap in an affordable way.

She wasn’t sure that a high-quality, high-impact, American-made, stand-up pouch was in her budget until she found ePac.

“Finding a company that was small business-friendly makes a world of difference. Plus, the quality of the packaging and my relationships with ePac staff is just so great,” says Kolawole.

Pictured here: Toyin Kolawole with Kyle Rogers of ePac Flexible Packaging

ePac helped Kolawole to create an impactful, high-quality pouch with bright graphics and clear brand consistency throughout the whole line. Since she wanted to create a package that would resonate with a variety of people, sticking with the pouch was a no-brainer. Consumers love them and they’re lightweight, which helps lower her shipping costs. Plus, the film quality is superb, and the pouches offer reseal technology, as well as a better billboard for branding.

“Pouches gives you more space to play with, with more, and bigger, images and keywords. Also, the photographs are better with digital printing quality,” states Kolawole.

And it isn’t just Toyin Kolawole that believes that. It has been only six months, but Iya Foods has felt the impact of the packaging overhaul dramatically. One key example lies with the packaging overhaul of its now popular product, cassava flour.

Rewind to one year ago, when Kolawole first put her cassava flour on Amazon. She had high hopes that the product would be an instant success, but for that year, there were very little sales. Kolawole was stumped as to why. She reintroduced the flour to Amazon after the launch of her new packaging with ePac and was astounded by the results. Within one week, the flour was selling 100 packs a day!

“It’s directly from the packaging,” says Kolawole.

It was clear that the packaging made a big impact on sales of the cassava flour. Not only is the current package a high-quality film that stands up on shelves, and evokes a premium feel, it clearly communicates what the product is — in person and online. And, the feedback has been nothing but positive.

“All of a sudden people started to notice us. People began asking us when we started selling cassava flour; they had no idea,” Kolawole says.

Now the cassava flour makes up a huge part of Iya Foods business and Kolawole attributes its growth all to the packaging change.

The Packaging Difference

Kolawole knows good packaging. She also knows the importance of good design, and clear communication to consumers.

“To capture consumer attention, packaging should be visually stimulating,” says Kolawole.

As beautiful as a package may look, for Iya Foods, it’s all about connecting with the consumer, whether online or in-store. With the new package overhaul, Iya Foods’ products do just that, clearly communicating what each product is, telling the brand story, and the entire line-up has consistent branding.

“ePac helped us have cohesive branding across the whole line, and helped us communicate with our customers. The first way you communicate with customers is through the packaging,” says Kolawole.

Are you looking for a visually appealing, digitally printed flexible package for your brand? ePac is an American company that specializes in small to medium runs, never has plate fees and makes digital printing an affordable and fast option for brand owners. Contact us today to learn how you can take the leap from good to great packaging with digital printing.

CASE STUDY: Gezellig Cookies

Dutch Cookies Stay Cozy in Pouches

Cassandra Plas started Gezellig Cookies because of her fondness for the Dutch cookies her Oma would make for her while growing up. As an adult, she missed the cookies so must she started making them, giving them away to family and friends, and then in 2015 founded Gezellig Cookies. Located in Central Florida, Gezellig Cookies, which is a Dutch word which roughly means “cozy,” sells its cookies to specialty retailers. The company is best known for its stroopwafels, a waffle-like cookie with caramel in the center.

Prior to working with ePac, Plas was packing her popular cookies in a plain pouch with hand-applied labels that included the company logo on the front, and nutrition and flavor information on the back. The front labels were the same for each cookie, regardless of flavor, so consumers didn’t know which was which without turning the package over. The stroopwafels come in many flavors, including a vegan option, so clearly displaying this information was an important selling point.

Gezellig LLC’s original packaging, with a hand-applied sticker.

“When we started selling the cookies at farmers’ markets, it was easy to tell each customer which flavor was which, but when we started selling them in stores, we knew we needed a better package to differentiate the cookies by flavor,” says Cassandra Plas.

That’s when Plas started to look for a solution. After contacting different suppliers that quoted her high minimum orders and long lead times, someone recommended ePac. She quickly realized that ePac was the right partner for her and in 2018, the two companies started working toward that solution.

Stroopwafel Packaging & the ePac Difference

Right away Plas was pleased with ePac’s capabilities. ePac Flexible Packaging delivers a quick turnaround, with no set-up, or plate fees, which is helpful for a small company that has many SKUs. Other suppliers quoted her high minimum orders for each flavor, which would result in a huge amount of inventory that a small business like Gezellig Cookies couldn’t afford, due to space and more importantly, money constraints.

“If we dropped a flavor, or changed a recipe, we would potentially have thousands of packages in inventory that we wouldn’t use,” says Plas.

ePac leverages digital printing technology, and focuses solely on short to medium run, quick turnaround business. ePac allowed Plas to order a small volume of each variety, based on the company’s sales volume and delivered them quickly so that the company could start packaging and selling cookies right away. Plas received her first order in mid-October, just in time for the Christmas season, the company’s busiest time of the year.

“ePac understands the challenges that small businesses face,” says Plas.

The flexibility of digital printing is a huge plus for Gezellig Cookies as the company can change and add to orders easily. Digital enables “print on demand,” thus eliminates costly over-runs and inventory.

Today, the cookies are packaged in a lay-flat pouch with high-quality graphics and soft-touch laminate, with a premium matte finish. The pouches feature a large, clear window to see the cookie inside, have plenty of space for the company logo, flavor, nutrition facts, and marketing language (since the company is not limited to two stickers, but rather the entire package). What’s more is that each flavor is represented by a different color so that consumers can easily tell which stroopwafel is key lime, vanilla, chocolate, vegan, etc. They look more professional and more premium too, and really stand out on the shelf.

“Our sales have definitely increased since adopting the new package. One customer of ours is experiencing double the sales,” says Plas.

The new package also saves Plas and her team a lot of time because they are no longer printing and applying labels. Also, the new pouch ensures better freshness for the cookies than the previous pouch, as well as better brand recognition, something that is so important for a small company like Gezellig Cookies.

“Since the switch, I have had nothing but positive feedback! Our customers like the colors, and they’ve commented to me that the packaging is easy to read, and differentiate between flavors. It’s made a big difference in stores and our customers are thrilled by the switch! The new packaging has even allowed us to bring on some new (and big) customers!” says Plas.