Mochi Bros serves gelato sandwiches in premium pouches

Start-up premium brand Mochi Bros turned to ePac UK Silverstone for support in finding the perfect packaging to match the high quality of its new mochi gelato sandwiches. The partnership resulted in soft-touch luxury pouches with built-in technology that helps engage directly with customers.

Mochi is a traditional Japanese soft and chewy rice dough that has become popular the world over, often in combination with an ice cream filling. After Bristol-based Osama Rashed first tasted one of these delicious treats, he realised that there was a market opportunity in the UK for a premium mochi gelato sandwich. 

With a degree in finance and accounting, Osama had originally set out to climb the career ladder as an analyst in the oil & gas industry, but his dream was to build his own business and work on projects that he could be truly passionate about. And so, he decided to seize the opportunity and make a career change. 

“Having worked in oil & gas for some years, I had begun to recognise that this was not the path I wanted to follow in the long run. What inspired me was the idea of being my own boss, so I had started to explore a few options before stumbling on mochi ice cream during a trip to the supermarket with a friend,” explained Osama. 

This chance encounter with the mochi concept was the catalyst for change for the budding entrepreneur, and the idea for Mochi Bros was soon born. 

Creating gelato in the Italian way

Setting out to create a premium mochi gelato brand without any knowledge of manufacturing was, however, a big challenge. He planned to find a UK manufacturer to produce the vegan gelato treat ground to a halt after some initial research. Instead, he decided to travel to Bologna in Italy, the home of some of the world’s best gelato, to learn the art of the ‘gelatière’ and develop recipes with a difference: delicious clean gelato made from only a few ingredients with exciting and innovative flavours that reflected Osama’s Middle Eastern heritage. 

The result was a dairy-free – or as Mochi Bros describes it ‘udderlessly’ – creamy gelato made from cashew nuts, which in addition to being vegan is also free from preservatives, artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners, and palm oil. With just eight or fewer ingredients, the mochi gelato sandwiches are available in five unique and delicious flavours: Baklawa premium pistachio, Roseberry sweet strawberry with rose, Lemonana Sicilian lemon with mint, Shai Nana Moroccan mint tea, and Kahwa Colombian coffee.

In just nine months, Mochi Bros was officially launched.  Partnering with ePac UK Silverstone on the packaging helped to deliver a professional finished product for his five unique SKUs, in the exact quantities he needed, and in less than two weeks…  Initially, the mochi gelato sandwiches were being sold locally in Osama’s hometown of Bristol at events, pop-ups, and via a website, but there are big plans to go national and beyond. 

Sourcing premium packaging: ePac saves the day

Getting the branding right and finding a packaging supplier for your products is often a big hurdle for small start-ups. Many simply opt for cheap one- or two-colour printed labels stuck to pre-made pouches. But Osama was more ambitious; he wanted to present Mochi Bros’ premium products in premium packaging that conveyed the right message right from the start.

The initial experience of sourcing premium packaging was not very positive. Osama soon found that he could not meet the minimum order quantities (MOQs) that most traditional packaging suppliers demanded. Furthermore, he was planning to launch five SKUs meaning he would be ordering even shorter runs of each design. 

While conventional manufacturing methods do not allow the agility that small to medium brands need for their packaging, digital technology has created a whole new world of opportunities with the ability to have very low MOQ produced. Even better, without being restricted by the limitations (and costs) of printing plates, digital gives you full design freedom, so changes can be made at any time in the process. 

Fortunately, Osama discovered digital flexible packaging specialist ePac UK and contacted the team at Silverstone for help. Not only could they print his small orders and multiple SKUs, but he was also amazed to find that ePac would be able to ship the pouches in less than 15 business days once the design had been finalised. As well as being printed digitally to order, the pouches are locally made avoiding lengthy import delays or other supply chain issues.

“ePac really saved the day for me and I can’t thank them enough. They were super helpful right from the first call and sent me loads of samples of pouches to narrow down exactly what I wanted in terms of materials and surface treatment,” said Osama. “Once I saw their soft-touch matt look finish and the fantastic print quality, I was sold.”  

Creating that special connection with ePacConnect

The superb lay-flat pouches with convenient tear notches from ePac give the Mochi Bros brand a luxury appearance and the chance to compete with the largest companies in the ice cream segment. 

“I’m really chuffed with the outcome of this project. The product is amazing, the design is fantastic and so is the quality of the pouches!” exclaimed Osama.  “ePac has helped portray our new brand as a well-established one!”.

A lot of the buzz around Mochi Bros has been created through social media, so when ePac explained that the packaging could be elevated with serialised QR codes to create unique customer interaction with the brand, Osama was quick to agree. 

ePacConnect is a simple way to build a bridge between Mochi Bros’ physical products and the digital platforms Osama uses to market the brand. A catchy call to action can be found on the reverse of each pouch, saying “You a fan? Give us a scan!” with each QR code linked to a campaign. This feature helps to promote the products and engage directly with consumers to establish brand loyalty while collecting valuable marketing analytics for the fabulous Mochi Bros premium gelato sandwiches.

Do you have a burning ambition to launch your brand in premium packaging? Get in touch here with the ePac team to find out what we can do to make your products stand out.

Sales in The Freezer Aisle Are Heating Up, In Light of The Coronavirus Shopping Trends

It’s no secret that the virus is having a tremendous impact on the nation’s health and economy. By now most industries are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 crisis as orders to quarantine or shelter-in-place affect businesses around the country. The packaged food industry, in particular, is experiencing explosive growth as consumers rush to stores and stockpile packaged food. And one segment of the packaged food industry is seeing growth unlike any it has seen before: frozen food.

Frozen Food Market: Before The Coronavirus

According to the 2019 “Power of Frozen” report from the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and FMI (The Food Industry Association), the frozen foods market has topped $57 billion annually and has grown since 2018. What’s more, it’s reported that 99.4% of U.S. households buy frozen foods, with Millennials and Gen Z expressing more interest in the frozen segment than generations before. Frozen food is an industry that already has stable numbers and a wide audience.  And those numbers are rising.

Frozen food is an industry that already has stable numbers and a wide audience.  And those numbers are rising.

How The Coronavirus Is Impacting Frozen Food Sales

What is driving this growth in light of COVID-19?

Analysts from Bernstein report that the coronavirus pandemic will boost consumption of shelf-stable foods, including frozen packaged foods in the near-term. Experts say that it may be a temporary growth, but for now that growth is nonetheless real, as consumers stockpile food for a potential or already mandated quarantine, or shelter-in-place order. 

Not only are consumers stockpiling foods that have a long shelf life like frozen foods, they are also being forced to cook at home more in light of restaurants closing across the United States. More cooking means more ingredients and more shopping, overall. And what that all means is more sales for the frozen food industry. 

The Big Draws of Frozen Food 

Frozen meals for bulking offer consumers the convenience of easy meal prep and the peace of mind that their groceries will last over an extended period of time spent indoors, at home. Many frozen foods bags today feature a reseal closure to further aid in extending shelf life. In fact, most frozen foods have a shelf life anywhere from 3 – 6 months, and even upwards of a year, depending on the product, the packaging, and the freezer.  This allows consumers to eat the product that day or save it for next month, without the risk of waste.

A large number of frozen food brands also offer complete meals, snacks, and meal starters that make food prep time a whole lot easier for busy consumers. Many frozen food products are even packaged in flexible bags and pouches that allow the product to be cooked in the bag, right in the microwave. 

Also, possibly no other segment offers such a wide variety on display in the frozen foods aisle. From breakfast items to snacks and appetizers, meats, vegetables, seafood, entire meal kits, and desserts, the frozen food segment really has it all. Consumers can purchase anything from single-serving meals and desserts to multiple-serving freezer-safe bags big enough to feed a family. For the consumer looking for something more specific, there are many options that are plant-based, organic, gluten-free, or have ethnic flavors. For instance, plant-based meat alternatives are a popular trend right now, with more brand options than ever before. New products inspire consumers at mealtime and offer enough variety to keep the frozen food segment interesting.

Big Opportunities Emerge 

Because it is such a vast segment with countless options, there is a lot of opportunity in the frozen foods space today. As you create your frozen food line, remember that convenience and product innovation are the main drivers for growth in this space, and will be long after the surge of sales from the coronavirus have waned.  

The frozen foods space has seen growth emerge in light of the coronavirus crisis, and even before that. The space offers consumers a lot of convenience and flexibility in this uncertain time. As you create your next product or line, consider meeting consumers where they are: in the freezer aisle. 

Partnering with a Frozen Food Flexible Packaging Manufacturer 

Whether you’re an established frozen food brand, or you’re launching a new line of frozen products, partnering with the right flexible packaging company is key. At ePac, we produce a variety of stand up and lay flat pouches, as well as rollstock for frozen food packaging. Our high-barrier films and resealable zippers, paired with our quick turnaround times and low minimum orders, make us the ideal partner for frozen food businesses. Click here to talk to one of our flexible packaging experts today.

Perfect Pasta Enjoys Easy and Flexible Package Development for Its Entire Product Line-Up

Perfect Pasta is known by customers around the country for their impressive variety of handmade pasta options, from appetizers to entrées, and even brings their delicious fare to the gluten-free market.

Perfect Pasta is a family-owned gourmet pasta company that’s been in business for over 30 years, selling both retail and foodservice products. Based in the Chicago area, for decades the company has been known locally for its wide variety of specialty choices. Today, the company sells 41 different retail products in 1,700 grocery stores nationwide and can even be enjoyed as part of in-flight dining options both domestically and internationally for air travelers.

Making a Big Change in Types of Packaging for Pasta

Because of the high number of SKUs in the Perfect Pasta library, the company assumed that labeling in-house with stock bags was the only affordable solution. They didn’t think that it would be cost-effective to print custom pouches for every product in their line-up, and reducing the number of SKUs was not an option since from the beginning Perfect Pasta has made its name by offering specialty items. 

“At one point we had over 120 SKUs. We had a following because of this; our customers are used to specialty items,” says Chris Wilkins, Director, Sales & Marketing at Perfect Pasta.

So for a long time, the company was packaging its pasta in clear, stock, lay-flat pillow bags. In order to show their variety, they were forced to print out generic labels and apply them in-house. As the brand grew, it knew it needed a better package, especially to help bring the brand nationwide. 

“The old packaging worked for our regional business, but we needed something with mass appeal to attract new shoppers and provide them with a high quality experience. We wanted to expand, protect the product better, and create something exciting and consistent for our customers,” says Wilkins. 

So they began to look for other solutions, and after a referral from an industry partner, found ePac. Soon after hearing all that ePac and digital printing had to offer, and that it was a cost-competitive option, the company made a full switch.

Perfect Pasta began using ePac’s custom digitally printed pouches for all 41 retail SKUs in two sizes, the 12- and 24-ounce bags. The stand-up pouches are resealable and fully branded. They offer ease of use, easy retailing, and vibrant designs, with original artwork for each SKU.

The best part is that both retailers and customers are enjoying the new pouches. Retailers like the pouches because they stand up in the freezer, which eliminates the need for the trays the brand was using to make their lay-flat pouches stand up. This is also proving to be a cost-savings solution for the brand since it no longer needs to purchase trays. And, consumers love the pouches because they stand up in the kitchen, and feature a tear notch and press to close zipper for easy handling and resealability for on-demand use. 

Perfect Pasta is also pleased with the switch. But while everything is going smoothly now, Wilkins says that at first there were some fears and concerns over how much this would change Perfect Pasta’s operations. Before partnering with ePac, the brand was filling the stock bags as needed and then printing in-house for individual SKUs. Today, Wilkins explains that the company faces the challenge of managing and relearning inventory needs for 40 plus SKUs, like ordering the right quantities and staying on top of trends in production and inventory. 

“It’s been a big change in operations, but now there is no fear surrounding it because of ePac’s capabilities,” explains Wilkins. 

Finding Freedom Through Digital Printing

With ePac, Perfect Pasta has the freedom to print numerous SKUs each month and place large orders with mixed SKUs. When other printers would shy away from large orders with various SKUs, ePac is perfectly suited to handle jobs like that. With digital printing, there are no plates, no setup, and the fast turnaround is the same for 10 or 100 SKUs in one single order. 

“We place larger orders with 40 different SKUs at a time, all with a turnaround in 15 days. ePac’s operational capability is huge and allowed us to make this jump to custom digital printing with confidence,” says Wilkins.

And the pasta packaging change has not gone unnoticed. Perfect Pasta is experiencing more growth since unveiling the new pouches and has received only positive feedback.

“The reaction has been night and day. We receive compliments all the time about how beautiful the pouches are and how well they stand up,” says Wilkins.

Digital printing allows brands like Perfect Pasta to have fully custom frozen food pouches for every SKU in the line-up, with unique artwork for each one. Digital printing offers flexibility in ordering quantities, as well as when changes are needed for the design, from artwork changes to nutritional information, or even regulations. 

“It’s been great having the ease of not having to worry about minimums for SKUs or plate changes. We can make revisions to art and we can do that on the fly because ePac just rolls with it. There’s no extra time and expense incurred…in this industry, when changes come they can come fast and often, and ePac adapts,” says Wilkins.

Perfect Pasta also enjoys competitive pricing and the convenience of working with a local company, since ePac has an office in Chicago. According to Wilkins, Perfect Pasta will continue to partner with ePac as it expands into custom packaging for all of its products. 

Are you looking for a better solution for your flexible packaging products? Did you think that fully custom pouches were not an option for your brand? Call us today to learn how digital printing is the solution for you.

CASE STUDY: mmmpanadas

From Food Truck to Freezer Aisle: mmmpanadas Finds Packaging Innovation in Digital Printing

What do you get when you combine two foodies, an entrepreneurial spirit, and some really good empanadas? You get mmmpanadas, an Austin, Texas-based empanada brand that sells its goods from a food truck around town, and now also in the frozen food aisle. 

After years of dreaming and talking about making and selling delicious empanadas, Cody & Kristen Fields took a big leap of faith when they brought a batch of their homemade goods to a new bar opening. Pitching their idea to sell them to the bar became the first step in the business plan that would launch them from restaurants and coffee shops, to food truck, to retail over the course of ten years. 

The Birth of a Brand

Cody Fields had a passion for empanadas since living in Costa Rica. In 2006, when he came back to the states, he realized there were few, if any, empanada options available. So, he began making his own, and dreaming of making them on a large scale. Cody also had an entrepreneurial spirit, coming up with ideas to sell his empanadas one day either with a bike delivery, a trailer, or a food truck.

“We would talk about the fantasy business we would have one day,” says Kristen.

At this time, Cody was also in a job that he didn’t particularly enjoy, which only further fueled him to dream about an empanada business. Well, one day that dream became a reality when the couple stumbled upon a new bar that was opening in their neighborhood. They got to talking to the owner and Kristen pitched the idea to sell them their empanadas. As Kristen puts it, “It was time for action. No more talking.” 

So, they brought the empanadas in and everyone in the bar loved them; they got their first deal. At the same time, Kristen was selling the empanadas to the clients she had from teaching Pilates. 

“We built a brand around it (the empanadas). While we had no experience with consumer-packaged goods, we were very curious people and we believed in ourselves,” says Kristen.

After they got into their first bar in the Austin area, the couple then began selling to more local bars and coffee shops. The couple bought a big red food truck in 2008 and began selling the empanadas out of that, distributing them to the people of Austin.

The mmmpanadas food truck at the ePac Austin Grand Opening Party

From Food Truck to Freezer Aisle

Now, the company sells its goods out of H-E-B stores in the Austin area. How did mmmpanadas go from bars, to truck, to the freezer aisle? Initially, the brand was selling them in the cold section as a grab-n’-go item. But that wasn’t a long-term plan, and the couple wanted to have a more permanent space on the shelf.

The major turning point for mmmpanadas came in 2018, when Cody & Kristen Fields won the grand prize H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best competition, winning a cash prize and the opportunity to sell a frozen version of their empanadas in H-E-B stores. 

“Winning that legitimized all our dreams and got us on the shelf in mass quantities,” says Kristen.

But first, there was one major problem that needed to be addressed before the product could appear on store shelves on a large scale…. the packaging.

At the time, the brand’s frozen food packaging supplies included a clear plastic bag with a hand-applied sticker for each packaged empanada. After a few weeks, Kristen started to notice a problem with the packaged goods in stores– the stickers were falling off the bags, and the bags were breaking. This was a major problem that went on for months, with no real solution being presented.

mmmpanadas old frozen food packaging bags with a hand applied sticker

“The packaging reps that we were working with just wanted to pitch us a thicker bag, with better stickers. Basically, keep doing the same thing… nothing innovative. Plus, we had to order 100,000 units with no guarantee it would solve the problem,” Kristen explains.

The couple was faced with a looming deadline to have a better package for the launch of their frozen empanadas, so they needed a solution. 

Enter: ePac’s digital printing technology that creates quality, custom packaging from a pdf file, delivered in only a matter of weeks. Plus, the technology means low minimum orders and the ability to print a variety of SKUs.

“We had met with the people of ePac at tradeshows, so we knew what they did,” says Kristen.

In fact, mmmpanadas was already considering using ePac for its line of cocktail empanadas, that would be packaged in stand-up pouches. While the couple hadn’t yet considered ePac for their single empanada product, it then clicked that this could be the innovative solution they were looking for. And since mmmpanadas was soon to be in 140 more stores (making that 200 in total) they knew they needed great packaging, and fast.  

“We needed someone to meet our impossible deadline,” says Kristen. 

Luckily, ePac was able to meet, and exceed the deadline. ePac was also able to provide a quality, fully branded, lay-flat pouch that delivers the strength and durability that the freezer aisle demands. No more plastic tearing open and stickers falling off.

mmmpanadas new packaging

The custom frozen food packaging is helping the brand to better tell their story and build a brand identity. Since working with ePac, mmmpanadas is also enjoying the flexibility the young brand needs with their packaging orders as regulations, recipes, and messaging changes. 

“Digital printing is great for us since there are no plates, we can get the package right before we spend a ton of money on inventory,” says Kristen.

Digital printing allows brands like mmmpanadas to be nimble in their ordering, responding to market demand and ordering on a need basis. 

If you’re looking for a frozen food packaging supplier, or for a better way to order packaging for frozen food products, for your brand, call us today at 844-623-8603 and see what we can do for you.

The 3 Must-Haves of Successful Frozen Food Packaging

The frozen foods segment delivers easy and healthy options to consumers looking for a quick meal prep and added convenience to their busy day.

When developing packaging for this segment, consider what’s important to the consumer, and how the package will fit into their daily lives.

Flexible packaging offers consumers a variety of user-friendly features, and consumers love them. According to Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief of Refrigerated & Frozen Food magazine, there are some key attributes that consumers look for in their frozen food packaging.

“Flexible packaging in the frozen foods space is the future. And, it’s all about convenience and sustainability. Today’s consumers want recyclable packaging that clearly depicts the brand’s messaging. They want resealable pouches that spell out ingredients and benefits. They want portability in the form of microwave-ability features and zipper closures. And, consumers want to lower fossil fuel usage, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and the amount of packaging sent to the landfill. Flexible packaging offers endless solutions to all of these challenges and consumer demands,” says Mayer.

When developing a new frozen food product and package, there are three things that you should consider for a successful package: convenience, sustainability, and a great design.

1. Convenience Is King

A great frozen food package should offer the consumer some benefit, if not multiple. Bags and pouches are the main package format in the freezer aisle because they do just that. They are eco-friendly and offer consumers convenience features like being lightweight, unbreakable, and resealable. They’re also easy to hold, use, and store, all for consumer convenience.

Frozen food bags and pouches should offer resealability to allow consumers to easily open and (fully) close the package while maintaining the freshness of the contents inside.

They should also ensure that the product is easy to prepare. Many packages, especially frozen vegetables, allow consumers to cook the product right in the bag, inside the microwave. This makes mealtime faster and simpler, without needing a separate dish to cook the product.

Consumers crave convenience, but the cravings don’t stop there.

2. Consumers Want Sustainability

Aside from convenience, today’s consumers are looking for sustainability in their products, from the way the product is manufactured to how the package will help to reduce waste. To aid in this, many bags and pouches are equipped with reseal technology, enabling consumers to easily pick out a single serving of their favorite snack, vegetable, or protein, and reseal the bag or pouch for later use. This also ensures that the product inside is not subject to freezer burn. This, in turn, reduces the amount that must get thrown out, reducing waste.

The material of the pouch itself can also aid in waste reduction. According to the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), flexible packaging uses fewer resources to create than other package formats. At ePac, we are committed to finding ways to continue to improve flexible packaging’s impact on our environment. Part of this commitment includes sourcing recyclable films. And, all ePac recommended pouches are constructed of materials that minimize the transfer of oxygen and moisture vapor to maintain product freshness, and reduce waste.

Additionally, digital production is a much more environmentally conscious form of printing than conventional printing. Ozone creation, energy demand, water depletion, and the overall impact on Global Warming are all substantially reduced. And, it’s not without notice. According to Mintel, the culture today is “embracing the role of packaging as a primary means to reduce global food and product waste.” Consumers see packaging as more than simply garbage to be disposed of; they now view packaging as a means to extend the freshness of food, preserve the product inside and deliver the goods safely.

Photo Credit: Perfect Packaging

Packagers have a lot of opportunities here to deliver to consumers a better, greener package that accomplishes all these things while delivering convenience and a great design.

3. The Design Difference

Design is incredibly important when it comes to packaging frozen food items. Just think, the package must stand out to consumers through a layer of glass (sometimes even when that glass is fogged over). Because of this, the design should be vibrant, clear and eye-catching.

Scour the frozen food aisles and you’ll likely see various brands and varieties of essentially the same thing. From potatoes to waffles, vegetables, and chicken products, there is a lot of competition.

Digital printing on flexible packaging gives you an advantage over other brands. The great thing about it is the ability to produce high-impact graphics with 360-degree artwork for a really stand-out product. What’s more, because no plates are needed, there is no long set-up time. This flexibility makes adding a SKU, changing a recipe, or adding promotional information to an existing package quick and easy. Also, the innovative digital printing technology allows you to print on demand, reducing high inventories and waste.

The frozen food market is anything but frozen. There is so much opportunity to appeal to new consumers through the use of packaging and help them make mealtime a snap, while in turn boosting sales.

Be sure to offer convenience, sustainability, and a great design to capture consumer attention. In addition, consider offering different package sizes for single-serve, a meal for two and multi-serve packs to appeal to different consumer groups.

Call us today to get a free quote to see how we can partner with you to develop a winning package in the frozen foods space.