It was a visit to South Africa that first planted the idea of producing home-made biltong in the minds of Rachel and Michael George, founders of start-up brand From Our Farm. With the savoury snack market growing, they spotted an opportunity to set up a sustainable and potentially lucrative business, supplying the relatively unknown and healthy dried-beef treat.
The young couple runs a farm in Pembrokeshire on land that has been used for rearing cattle for more than four generations of the George family. The perfect ingredient was right there grazing on the fields outside their window – top quality Welsh beef – they just needed to learn how biltong was produced.
Like many entrepreneurs, their first attempt at making the new product was tentative. They created a makeshift dryer in their kitchen using a plastic storage tub, a bathroom extractor fan and a lightbulb to test their idea. The result was delicious and set the Georges on their journey and so From Our Farm was born. Soon production was moved into new purpose-built premises, near Narberth, where batches of biltong are now made in a state-of-the-art dryer.
Over time, From Our Farm has expanded its range of tasty beef snacks. ‘Original Biltong’ has been joined by spicier flavors, including a chilli-flavored version and ‘Blazing Turmeric’ with yellow Scorpion chillis, not to mention super-hot ‘Carolina Reaper’ – all created with chillis from nearby Pembrokeshire Chilli Farm.
Despite going national, Rachel and Mike still celebrate their Welsh heritage and were lucky enough to see their products featured on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen as part of a St David’s Day feature on Welsh food this year. They are also the proud recipients of a Great Taste Award and their biltong carries the Protect Geographical Indication and Welsh Beef certification marks.
Enabling Growth with Digitally Printed Pouches
Until now, the biltong has been sold in 40g, 500g and 1kg plain, resealable paper pouches with labels applied by hand. However, as sales continued to increase, this approach proved unsustainable, so to find a solution and help drive further growth, the company turned to ePac UK Silverstone for help.
Mike explains, “We wanted to migrate from adhesive labels to fully printed pouches to reduce the labour time spent applying them to each pack and reduce unit costs for our beef snack packaging. We also wanted to create a more eye-catching design, which was achievable with fully printed stand-up pouches.”
“We also had lots of customers who wanted to display our products from a clip strip, and euro-slotted, blank stand-up pouches just aren’t readily available from stock.”
With no plate costs, low minimum orders and full flexibility in design and colors, digital print was a clear choice for From Our Farm. “Using digital print means that we can tweak any of our designs or wording in the future without incurring additional costs, and there is also a benefit in splitting our order over multiple designs, in quantities that reflect each flavor’s rate of sale,” says Mike.
Digital print has also been used to add individual codes to each pack, so consumers can trace their purchase back to the cow that the beef came from and receive information on breed, sex, date of birth and ear tag number.
Reducing Lead Times and Keeping it Local
ePac UK Silverstone works with many local brands who find that having their flexible packaging supplier nearby very reassuring. It makes keeping in touch so much easier and means that samples can be supplied at a moment’s notice. Deliveries won’t be held up en route from abroad or incur huge shipping costs. And with the COVID-19 crisis severely affecting supply chains, the change of packaging partner couldn’t have come at a better time for From Our Farm.
“The fact that ePac is UK-based was a big draw,’ continues Mike. “It allowed for easy communication regarding material barrier requirements and we were able to get samples quickly to determine the finish and feel we wanted.
“UK-based also turned out to be a very big advantage when we came to place the order as we would probably be struggling to get packaging from overseas currently. It also meant we didn’t have to place a massive order to offset shipping costs.”
In terms of lead times, ePac wins hands down by turning orders around in less than 15 business days, once the artwork is approved. Compare this to buying from suppliers outside the UK who can take up to 12 weeks to deliver. The result is that less packaging needs to be held in stock, which reduces costs for warehousing and waste caused by redundant packaging.
“Fast delivery allowed us to run down our previous packaging held in stock to a bare minimum before placing an order; this really helps with cashflow for small businesses like us. It was also good to be able to get regular updates when printing and pouch-forming was completed to make sure the lead time was still on track,” Mike explains.
Having Confidence in Your Packaging Partner
The move to fully printed pouches represented a considerable investment in stock for From Our Farm. Rachel and Mike were keen to work with a reliable and trustworthy partner where the lines of communication were open to ensure no mistakes were made and orders lost in translation.
“The team at ePac was very good in following up our queries during the costing and specification process. Cutter designs and proofs were turned around within an hour or two in most cases, which was really good as we had to make a few tweaks before approving final proofs. This whole process happened within the same day.”
Mike concludes, “One thing we have found when purchasing blank pouches is that colors and shading can vary quite considerably between orders, so we are glad that we won’t have that worry going forwards. Mostly though we are excited about not sticking on thousands of labels by hand each month!”
“We are always fully committed to helping the local communities and enable brands of all sizes to continue to grow – even more so through the current crisis,” says Nick Monk, Sales Director UK & Ireland and Managing Partner of ePac UK Silverstone. “And it is our privilege to support From Our Farm and help Rachel and Mike achieve their dream.”
Are you looking for a better packaging solution for your brand? Contact us today to learn more about how ePac can help you.