How ELSY Doubled its Turnover With Sustainable Packaging

Elsy is a unique confectionery brand that has revolutionized the industry. It specializes in chocolate confectionery made with healthy ingredients, and a low glycemic index. Established in 2020, this chocolate brand has successfully positioned itself in 400 large and medium-sized stores.

But Elsy encountered a significant challenge in providing its customers with chocolate products in sustainable packaging that is both practical and appropriate. To address this issue, the brand strategically partnered with ePac Lyon to provide the packaging.


The Birth of a Gourmet Startup


At its core, Elsy’s story is one of serendipitous encounters. It all began with the fateful meeting between Claire Laurent, hailing from Brittany, and Capucine Razou. United by their belief that indulgence should not carry a negative connotation, these two women embarked on a remarkable journey.

They soon discovered that the majority of confectionery lining supermarket shelves featured ingredient lists that were far from wholesome. 

At the same time, while dried fruit brands did offer health benefits, their products often lacked the alluring appeal of gourmet treats.

This realization led to a turning point for Claire and Capucine. They became determined to carve out a space on those very shelves for products that were simultaneously healthy and gourmet.

A Product Differentiation Strategy That Works


Elsy’s key distinguishing factor lies in its ability to offer a delectable yet healthy formula. The brand achieves this through its puffed balls, which contain 50% to 90% less sweetness compared to conventional confectionery, all while being free from sweeteners. To replace sugar, Elsy utilizes vegetable fibers sourced from the chicory root.

Elsy’s objective was to create a product that maximizes protein and fiber content. This composition, low in sugar but rich in fiber, enables Elsy to achieve a product with a low glycemic index. The chocolate balls also feature a unique addition: coral lentils. These lentils contribute a delightful crunch to the overall texture of the balls.

Remarkably, consuming just half a packet of Elsy’s puffed beads equates to approximately 20% of the daily recommended fiber intake set by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

You see? With Elsy’s products, there’s no need to deprive yourself!

The Meteoric Growth of this Confectionery Brand in the French Market

In 2020, Elsy embarked on its product marketing journey, starting with local references and store-by-store expansion. Today, customers can find the entire range of Elsy products not only in large and medium-sized supermarkets such as Monoprix or Franprix, but also on the brand’s own website.

Since its inception in 2020, Elsy initially experienced modest growth. However, the brand truly hit its stride in 2022, achieving a remarkable doubling of its turnover. Staying true to its vision, Elsy intends to maintain the momentum moving forward. As Claire passionately expresses, their ultimate goal is to become the go-to brand for healthy chocolate snacking.

Currently, Elsy’s product range includes puffed beads, chocolate-covered nuts, and chocolate bars. Looking ahead, the young brand envisions expanding its product line by incorporating a culinary dimension, enabling customers to explore low glycemic cooking options. 

In the medium term, the company aspires to establish itself as the health-conscious alternative to popular treats like M&Ms.

Finding the Perfect Packaging for Chocolate Products

After months of research and development, while perfecting the recipe, Elsy’s next task was to choose the right packaging for its chocolate products. The brand’s primary objective was to use packaging predominantly composed of paper—a challenging endeavor.

Starting in 2020, Elsy started using paper packaging with an EVOH (ethylene vinyl alcohol) barrier to protect and preserve its products. But a new concern arose as the EVOH barrier properties at that time did not meet their desired standards.

So Elsy explored alternatives, focusing on single-material packaging while still prioritizing recyclability. Unfortunately, this type of packaging was  ill-suited for the customer experience. Claire told us as some customers found it hard to open the bags.


Four Criteria for Confectionery Bag

When it came to packaging its chocolate balls, Elsy had four essential criteria that had to be met:

Aesthetic Appeal: The packaging design needed to be attractive and visually appealing, aligning with Elsy’s brand image and the allure of their delectable chocolate treats.

Product Protection: Ensuring the packaging offered optimal protection for the delicate chocolate balls was paramount. It had to safeguard the product from external elements, preserving its taste, texture, and quality.

Practicality: Elsy sought packaging that was user-friendly and convenient for consumers. It had to be easy to handle, open, and reseal, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Sustainability: A commitment to environmental responsibility guided Elsy’s choice of packaging. The brand aimed for sustainability by selecting materials that were eco-friendly, recyclable, and aligned with their dedication to reducing their ecological footprint.

By adhering to these four criteria, Elsy aimed to provide an exceptional confectionery packaging solution that combined aesthetics, product protection, practicality, and sustainability.

A mouth-watering Chocolate Packaging Bag

Packaging is also important because it serves as the initial point of contact between the consumer and the product, playing a crucial role in shaping the consumer’s purchasing decision, with colors, shapes, and images effectively communicating brand values.

For Elsy, the design of their packaging revolves around a simple yet impactful approach, incorporating their memorable slogan, “I am Elsy.” By employing this strategy, the brand aims to create a strong brand identity and establish a connection with consumers.

To facilitate easy differentiation among various flavors, Elsy has made a deliberate choice to assign a distinct color to each of its product variants. This thoughtful color-coding system assists consumers in quickly identifying their preferred flavor and contributes to an enhanced overall experience.

By prioritizing an appealing and well-executed design, Elsy ensures that its chocolate packaging captures attention, communicates brand values, and entices customers with its mouth-watering allure.

Protect the Product

Preserving the quality and freshness of their chocolate candies was important  to Elsy. To achieve this, they sought out a packaging solution that would safeguard the product throughout its shelf life. Thus, the brand opted for a packaging material with exceptional barrier properties known as EVOH.

EVOH (ethylene vinyl alcohol) barrier is a specialized material commonly used as a barrier layer in food packaging. It boasts remarkable properties that impede the migration of oxygen, gasses, flavors, and oils. By incorporating EVOH into their packaging, Elsy successfully shields the packaged puffed chocolate balls from these detrimental factors.

This packaging solution ensures that the chocolate candies retain their optimal quality, taste, and texture, allowing consumers to indulge in a delightful experience with each bite. Elsy’s commitment to protecting their products underscores their dedication to delivering excellence to their valued customers.


Convenient Flexible Packaging for Chocolate Products

Elsy recognized the importance of providing its consumers with a packaging solution that was not only visually appealing but also practical and user-friendly. To meet this objective, Elsy opted for doypack pouches, which are compact in size, making them convenient for on-the-go snacking. Additionally, the inclusion of a resealable zip closure allows consumers to easily carry their snacks and enjoy them at any time of the day while maintaining the product’s freshness.

This practical packaging design enables Elsy’s customers to indulge in their delightful treats without the constraints of time or location. Whether it’s a quick bite between meetings or a satisfying snack during a leisurely stroll, Elsy’s packaging ensures a seamless and enjoyable experience.

Sustainable Production and Packaging

In its commitment to responsibility, Elsy ensures that every aspect of its products aligns with this ambition. The brand has made a conscious choice to utilize sustainable raw materials, including cocoa, brown rice, and coral lentils sourced from organic farming. 

However, their dedication extends beyond the product itself to encompass packaging considerations. Elsy has opted for recyclable packaging, composed of 80% paper, which can be easily sorted. As a local brand, Elsy proudly embraces the “Made in France” label!’


Flexibility for Small Order Volumes with ePac

When it came to packaging its chocolates, Elsy turned to ePac Flexible Packaging, and the collaboration turned out to be a resounding success. ePac was able to fulfill all of Elsy’s requirements.

In addition to the product itself, Elsy was highly satisfied with the quality of the packaging printing service. “I appreciated the prompt communication with the sales representative and the fast production of the packaging,” says Claire Laurent. Indeed, ePac offers shipping of your packaging within 10 to 15 working days after proof approval.

Furthermore, as Elsy made its debut, they sought the flexibility to start with small order volumes, which ePac made possible. We understand that small companies have distinct packaging needs compared to larger corporations. In response to this demand, ePac offers low minimum order volumes. Brands can place orders accordingly, ensuring reduced inventory.

If you would like support for your packaging project, just like Elsy did, please don’t hesitate to contact our sales team. We would be delighted to assist you.

The Perfect Chip Packaging for the Perfect Chips

100% made in France, from raw materials to packaging.

Chipizh are potato chips made in Brittany, France, with Pontivy potatoes, Guérande salt and the know-how of a local man.

After spending more than 12 years in Barcelona, ​​Brewen Duneau decided to return to his roots in La Baule, a beautiful seaside resort town in southern Brittany, France, to promote food products that represent the region’s heritage. 

As a lover of savory foods, Brewen felt a nostalgic longing for the potato chips his grandmother made for him. He decided to recreate this childhood delicacy, and worked on his idea for six months. Finally, with a solid business plan in hand, he set up a chip manufacturing plant in Guérande, a medieval town in the salt marshes of Western France. 

An Entirely Handmade Production Line

Brewen came up with the perfect chip recipe that brought back delicious memories of his childhood. And the secret behind the unique taste of Chipizh? “They’re 70% potatoes and 29% sunflower oil, with a light touch of Guérande salt,” he said. 

Brewen added, “the potato slices are not blanched before cooking. They are cooked in a cauldron and salted by hand, just enough to give them flavor without denaturing them”.

He deliberately set out to create a manufacturing process that avoided palm oil and artificial flavors. 

The result? A delicious, artisanal chip with the flavor of Brittany. 

Now a little about the brand name Chipizh. The French word for Brittany is Breizh. Duneau was playing around with the word ‘chips,’ and the name ‘Breizh’, his beloved French homeland.

And then the lightbulb moment: Chipizh!

Exclusive Local Partnerships

Brewen sources his potatoes from a regional farmer who specializes in growing the traditional varieties that are key to Chipizh’s success. He sources the salt from a local salt harvester who uses a manual salt extraction process that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Chipizh is sold through supermarkets, hotels, campsites, pubs, cheese dairies, delicatessens and cellars within a radius of 100 km, including the French regions of Nantes, Vannes, Pornic, and Guérande. He also distributes products as far away as Lithuania!

Brewen is also planning an ecommerce site for those artisanal chip lovers around the globe. 

Packaging With the Right Shade of Blue, Thanks to ePac 

Brewen had formulated the perfect chip, but the only thing missing was the perfect chip packaging.

Luckily, a good friend recommended ePac. He wanted a packaging partner that could create quality chip packaging, with the high barrier properties essential for preserving these crunchy treats. ePac’s plant in Lyon, France was able to deliver just that. Since then, ePac has already filled 5 rollstock orders within just a few months! 

Brewen said, “I very much appreciate my collaboration with ePac, because they responded very well to my requirements, specifically a very particular shade of blue. They offered me a premium, lightweight, high barrier, Matte BOPP/METBOPP material that gives the pouches a very nice feel. That soft touch feel. Apart from that, they were able to print small quantities quickly at attractive prices, which is essential when you start a business“. 

What Does the Future Hold for Chipizh? 

Demand has been crazy for Chipizh, and Brewen is already planning to install a machine that will allow him to quadruple production by the summer. And with the online store in the works, he doesn’t see demand slowing down any time soon.

Digital Print is No Joke for Snackzilla Cookies

Certified by Public Health England’s Change4Life programme, Snackzilla soft-baked oat cookies for kids contain 50% less sugar than the average cookie. The start-up brand was brought to market by entrepreneur Marieke Syed when she noticed there was a lack of healthy snack options for energetic 5 to 11 year olds.

Her two growing sons were always on the go and always hungry, but the market offering at the time was woefully inadequate, so Marieke set about developing an alternative. 

“I really didn’t want my kids to grow up on adult convenience food, but what do you offer them when they are constantly asking for more snacks?” says Marieke, who was previously COO of London Craft Week and now works with The Prince’s Trust as a mentor for young entrepreneurs. 

“The baby and toddler segment was saturated with healthy snacks for on-the-go families, but they just don’t appeal to older kids and the portions are too small. This got me thinking.”

Marieke wanted to create a snack that was healthy and filling, but also delicious. She decided on chewy oat cookies based on her Dutch grandmother’s baked treats, which she fondly remembered from her own childhood. 

“The idea to launch a range of soft-baked oat cookies first came about in 2018, and I spent the next three years working very hard to make my vision come true,” says Marieke. “Using my grandmother’s old recipe as the base, I worked with a food developer to reformulate the original ingredients, so the specification would meet the government’s healthy eating guidelines for children.” 

Adding flexibility to packaging choices

Once she had the recipe nailed down, Marieke embarked on the challenge of developing the branding and packaging for her new cookies. Working with B Corp Certified Kingdom & Sparrow, Snackzilla’s impactful and fun branding was born, with strong, bold colors and cartoon monsters on the individual flow packs.  

There are now three flavors – raspberry, chocolate and golden syrup – and each pack is printed with high-quality graphics and a joke on the wrapper. 

Marieke spent almost a year finding a snack packaging supplier, but the first supplier she found was very expensive, and she had to purchase higher minimum order quantities (MOQs) than she really wanted. 

They also didn’t provide adequate protection for the product inside, reducing the shelf life considerably. Plus there were issues with sealing the packs on the filling line.

“Because there is much less sugar in the cookies, the barrier properties of the packaging film have to be stronger than normal, otherwise the product can go off quite quickly,” explains Marieke. “We also needed more flexibility in terms of SKUs and minimum order quantities, so we could order just the amount we needed, at any one time, and not have to invest in thousands of meters that then had to be stored.”

Fortunately, the team at ePac UK Silverstone reached out, and Marieke jumped at the chance to get onboard with a local flexible packaging specialist. 

The packaging for Snackzilla cookies was soon changed to a new and improved format: a high-quality metallised biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP), printed in CMYK on ePac’s fleet of HP Indigo Digital Presses with a matt varnish, supplied as ready-to-convert rollstock to Marieke’s fulfilment partners. 

A different joke on each package, made possible with digital printing

With digital printing, minimum order quantities are very low, so short runs can be printed cost-effectively and delivered at very short notice, giving small brands like Snackzilla the flexibility they need to operate at their own pace. Because there are no requirements for printing plates, there is also the freedom to make quick changes to the design file, and should the need arise a brand can print new SKUs for promotional and seasonal runs at the spur of the moment. 

For Marieke, ePac UK Silverstone’s variable data printing (VDP) capability was a real winner that added value to her brand. “We wanted to put loads of different jokes on the cookie packs, but with conventional printing, this was just not possible. Now ePac is printing 60 different jokes randomly on the packs, without us having to build up a huge inventory, and they deliver the rollstock super fast.”              

She adds, “I was already aware of the benefits brought to the table by digital printing, but actually experiencing how easy that whole side of the business is now, is just a joy. And I can’t praise the ePac team enough because they are great to work with. I’m so pleased I’ve finally found this fantastic high-quality packaging solution and the right partners for my business.”  

Joining the HFSS revolution to keep kids healthy

Marieke is not alone in wanting to provide healthy snacks for her kids. With childhood obesity in the UK having reached crisis point, the government is focused on reducing sugar and salt in children’s diet. 

One in three kids are overweight or living with obesity when they leave primary school, and rules are being introduced to ban promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) by location and price. 

Snackzilla low sugar cookies contain zero artificial sweeteners, colors, flavourings or preservatives of any kind. Made with whole grain oats that are high in fiber to keep kids fuller for longer, they are also completely vegan, palm-oil free, and each cookie contains only 99 calories. 

All these great health attributes support parents in cutting down on sugar, salt, fat and additives, and landed the brand the NHS Better Health Good Choice badge.

While Snackzilla’s initial success came from selling online via its own website, Amazon and portals such as Not on the High Street, the brand has also found its way onto Sainsbury’s ‘Future Brands’ shelf and is now launching on Ocado.

Recently, Marieke has received funding to the tune of £250,000 from Warburtons, which has taken a minority stake in the business – a major win for the new brand and gateway to developing new products with the support of the baking giant.

She concludes, “It has taken some time to get all the pieces of the puzzle in place – not least the packaging – but Snackzilla is now going from strength to strength. Once we have conquered the UK market, we will be expanding into the Middle East and Asia, markets that are also very health conscious.”

Are you struggling with finding the right packaging for your new brand? Get in touch today to see how ePac can help.

Verb Energy Supports Healthcare Heroes During COVID-19, One Bar At A Time

As countries around the world feel the effects of COVID-19, one thing has been made incredibly clear: the expertise and dedication of our healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, and paramedics are truly essential. As these healthcare workers continue to put in long hours at the forefront of this pandemic, people around the country have come together to help them however they can. One company, Verb Energy, has pledged their support, one energy bar at a time.

How The #VerbLove Campaign Started

Verb Energy, an energy bar company located in Boston, MA, was founded by four Yale students looking for one thing: a healthy and sustainable source of energy.  At just 90 calories each, their energy bars have as much caffeine as an espresso, keeping their customers alert and energized throughout the day. Unlike most CPG brands, Verb Energy’s customers can order directly from their website or send their orders via text directly to the team. This not only makes the ordering process a breeze for anyone who needs a pick-me-up, but it also creates a deeper connection between Verb Energy and its customers.  

As COVID-19 became more serious in the US, Verb Energy began to experience production changes, as well as increased safety audits, a common experience amongst most food and CPG companies. Worried that this would delay shipping times, the Verb Energy team decided to send an email to their customers assuring them that they were doing everything they could to continue to get bars sent out in a timely way. At the same time, the founders knew they wanted to do something to support the healthcare workers working on the front lines. 

So, the team came up with an idea: in the email to its customers, Verb Energy would include a free offer for healthcare workers. 

“We included a line that said, ‘hey, if you are a healthcare worker, text us and we will give you some bars for free,’” said Matt Czarnecki, co-founder & CEO.

And that one line got a lot of attention. 

“We received thousands of texts in a 24-hour period,” said Czarnecki. In March, the Verb team sent 60,000 bars to healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, and first responders. Then, they decided to open up the opportunity for even more healthcare workers to receive their energy bars.

“We have a super personal relationship with our customers, and since so many got back to us about this, we felt very strongly that we needed to further support our customer base. We were thinking about how we can make a larger impact. Our product works really nicely for these people working super long shifts, and since a lot of coffee shops and cafés are closed, it’s a nice product to fill that need. We thought, ‘let’s do as much as we can, send as many possible,’” said Czarnecki.

With that need in mind, Verb Energy officially launched its #VerbLove campaign on April 2, 2020, with the goal to send as many of its energy bars to healthcare workers as possible.

The #VerbLove Campaign Takes Shape

To support these amazing workers, Verb set-up three ways to get free bars into these essential workers’ hands through its #VerbLove campaign, including:

  1. Healthcare workers can text Verb and receive free bars, no strings attached. 
  2. For every 2 bars that the company sells, it will send one to a healthcare worker on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  3. Lastly, Verb customers can purchase the bars from the company, and Verb will ship them directly to a nurse, doctor, or first responder.

Czarnecki says they receive thousands of texts per day, be it customers ordering more bars, nurses and doctors signing up for a free package, or even these workers texting “thank you.”

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” added Czarnecki. So far, the brand has sent over 200,000 bars out to all 50 states through the three different promotions. While the original goal was to send out 500,000 bars, Czarnecki says they may not stop there.

From Idea to Execution, Packaging Leads the Way

Because you can’t have a standout energy bar without great packaging, Verb Energy bars are packaged in simple yet artistic wrappers that are then packaged in resealable stand-up pouches from ePac. During the #VerbLove campaign, the company has been ordering more packaging than originally forecasted to keep up with increased demand. 

As a partner, ePac was able to step up the production of Verb Energy’s flexible packaging to ensure the energy bars could be sent out in a timely manner to support healthcare workers across the United States.

“Because lead times are short, we got to take this from an idea to execution in about a month. That couldn’t happen with an overseas supplier,” said Czarnecki.

The ePac team feels incredibly lucky to be part of Verb Energy’s effort to support healthcare professionals, and to share their story. Head to Verb Energy’s website to be a part of the #VerbLove campaign.

To learn more about how ePac can support your brand’s flexible packaging needs, give us a ring or contact us today

Phong Kee Relaunches Peanuts in New Packaging to Expand the Family Business

Phong Kee is not your typical start-up. The story of Phong Kee is one of the American Dream, of a family immigrating to the United States and through hard work, starting a successful peanut business. 

When Phong and Khanh Tran came to the U.S. from Vietnam, they were determined to make it on their own. According to Susan Tran, Co-Founder and daughter to original owner Phong Tran, the brand started when her parents decided to start a business to provide for their family. 

“My family is very humble… my parents started the company because they wanted to put a roof over our heads, and provide for us,” recalls Tran.

Phong Tran enjoyed cooking to satisfy his sweet tooth, yet he was diabetic, which spurred him to start making his own healthy snacks. He began roasting a variety of flavored peanuts that all featured a crunchy, gluten-free crust and fresh ingredients.  Combining the couple’s ambition with Phong’s love for cooking, the brand Phong Kee was born in 1982 in Oakland, CA. With seven unique flavors, including garlic, coconut, spicy hot and original, Tran describes the brand as not only named after her father but also a nod to the brand’s “funky” flavors.

And it was truly a family business. As a little girl, Tran recalls packaging peanuts as a family in their garage. She also has memories of all the kids going with their mom as she went to pitch the peanuts to retailers in the area. Pretty quickly, all the family’s hard work paid off. Every supermarket and retailer loved them and the peanuts were selling great in stores. Phong Kee was becoming a recognized brand in the Oakland area. 

Rebranding and Repackaging Phong Kee 

For over 30 years, the brand continued to do well as a regional company. But just recently, Phong and Khanh Tran started to consider retirement, which meant that they were simply going to stop making the roasted peanuts. But daughters Susan and Nancy had other ideas.

“I told them, ‘before you stop, can we give it a shot, build it out, and develop the brand?’ I wanted to tell the story of the American dream and keep my dad’s name out there so people could taste his wonderful recipe,” says Susan Tran.

The sisters’ first step to taking the brand national was to upgrade their snack packaging to a more professional and polished look. The previous design had been drawn out by the sisters and sourced by a local packaging supplier. 

The sisters began looking for investors, as well as opportunities, for the brand to really expand. As Tran describes, she was sending the peanuts to anyone she could find that might be interested in selling them in their stores or helping the small brand with their expansion goals. She landed a contract with an investment broker out of Chicago that was eager to help spread the Phong Kee name. And it was that broker that introduced Tran to ePac, and digital printing, in December 2019. 

“I had never heard of digital printing. Had we heard of this before, we would have gone this way and not wasted so much money on inventory… we had to print so many before,” says Tran.

With low order minimums, and never any plates, Tran could order packaging at her own pace. In fact, Tran is phasing out the old packaging and bringing in the new over two phases. The brand has completed the first phase of the brand re-launch, which included updating the snack bag packaging for the brand’s top four flavors. Later this year, it will relaunch the last three flavors in the new packaging from ePac. 

The peanuts are now packaged in 6-ounce stand-up, resealable bags from ePac. Each includes a 3D effect in the design that showcases the flavor through an overlay that appears within the package’s design. 

“They made it look a million times better than I could imagine,” says Tran.

Today the brand is sold at T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods in California, in the San Francisco and Las Vegas airports, and on the Phong Kee website. And after the full line has been updated, they will be relaunched on Amazon. The Tran sisters are hoping to be in Costco and Whole Foods by the end of this year. In fact, the pitch to Whole Foods may not have happened had it not been for the fast turnaround of ePac’s digital printing platform.

“Whole Foods was a big part of the desire to switch to ePac. We were up against a tight turnaround time to get the samples in for the Whole Foods team to taste them,” says Tran.

The big pitch to the giant retailer was only weeks away from the start of the brand’s redesign process with ePac. Tran needed to send samples in the new custom snack packaging to make the best impression possible. 

“ePac really delivered. I was really worried I wasn’t going to get my samples to Whole Foods on time. But ePac was there working hard, from the beginning to the end, to get me what I needed,” says Tran. 

Tran has since sent off the samples to Whole Foods (on time) and is awaiting if the brand will be chosen to be on their shelves later this year. 

Carrying on the Vision

The updated peanuts package offers the quality and aesthetics that the brand knew it needed to expand, and the entire family couldn’t be happier.

“We could never imagine that the package could be so gorgeous and that we could be in big-name stores. It’s more than any person could ever dream of. After 38 years of my mother and father’s hard work to raise us and live this American Dream, I wanted to take the business to the next level. ePac is really helping us make this come true,” says Tran.

Today, Phong Kee’s goal is to create the best-flavored peanuts around and to keep growing into a national brand. With ePac’s digital printing platform, the Tran sisters enjoy the flexibility of short runs, a fast turnaround time, and the quality pouches that set the brand apart. 

Are you looking for a better packaging solution for your small brand? Call us today to learn more about how ePac can help you make your dream a reality. 

Specialty Pecan Company Enjoys Affordable Printing of Seasonal Packaging

Keith Baum is a self-described “undiagnosed entrepreneur” who has launched several companies over the course of his career. Baum started in the produce business at the age of 21, selling farm-fresh strawberries. But when sales began to decline after 14 years in business, the entrepreneur needed a new and fresh idea. 

Looking outside of produce, Baum picked a product that he was very familiar with: pecans. He had grown up in a plantation home in Louisiana surrounded by fruitful pecan trees which he harvested every year for his grandmother. While looking into his next business venture, Baum came across her secret pecan recipe, and realized he had a winner on his hands. So, he began making the specialty pecans and selling them at local farmer’s markets.

As the pecans’ popularity grew, so did the business, which spurred Baum to officially launch Holiday Fried Pecans in 2013. The company was and still is a “fourth-quarter company” since the fried pecans are sold only as a seasonal product in small, local, and specialty shops, as well as through Holiday’s website. 

But after some time, it was clear that people wanted more access to the specialty nuts as distributors began asking Baum for a year-round product. In response, he formed Baum’s Fried Pecans in 2018. These pecans are sold year-round to major distributors, including Bed Bath & Beyond. 

Today the company operates both Holiday Fried Pecans and Baum’s Fried Pecans out of Alexandria, Louisiana, and sells the specialty pecans in 48 states and in 4,000 stores, as well as online. But the journey from farmer’s markets to major retail stores is one with a few twists and turns, especially with the pecan’s packaging.

Baum’s Fried Pecans natural flexible food packaging

The Packaging Journey

In the early days, when Baum was selling the pecans at local farmer’s markets, he was using store-bought bags and packaging the nuts himself.

“In the old days we were buying brown coffee bags with the clear windows and filling those up,” explains Baum.

As the company grew, so did the operations. The company moved to buying stock pouches and stickers, with Baum and his team putting on each sticker on each pouch by hand. While it provided a better package overall, this process still had its shortcomings. Hoping to not only save time and money, but also gain a more professional look to the product, Baum began to explore the options for acquiring packaging for pecans. 

“I was looking for automatic labeling companies, but after really looking into it, it didn’t actually seem easier or cheaper. I realized within a week that we needed to be in custom-printed pouches,” says Baum.

But finding the right supplier for fully custom pouches wasn’t as easy as he had hoped. Baum originally hired a large conventional printer for his pecan packaging and soon felt a little lost in the shuffle.

“I was with a major competitor of ePac and felt like a very small fish in a large pond, and was treated that way,” says Baum. 

Baum was growing frustrated with the quarterly price increases and inconsistent invoicing. When ePac approached Baum with a better solution for his pecan nut packaging, he was all ears. With ePac’s digital printing technology, there are no plates and the set up for each SKU is fast and easy. So, printing seasonal packaging, or customized and personalized packaging is simple and cost-effective. Hiring ePac in 2018 proved to be the packaging change Baum was waiting for.

“ePac offers us a great perk, no set-up fees! This is huge! It allows us to print seasonal pouches for Mardi Gras, Mother’s Day, or just launch the pecans with different package designs. With other suppliers, we’d have to pay thousands in set-up fees,” says Baum.

The ePac Difference

Today, Baum utilizes ePac’s fully custom, high-quality, stand-up pouches for both Baum’s and Holiday Fried Pecans. The pecans are available in 4-, 8-, and 12-ounce sizes that feature a reseal zipper for easy snacking and storing. They also feature an easy open tear notch for consumers, and a hang hole for simple retailing.

“Packaging is very, very important. It has to be attractive, and functional for both the customer (retailer) and the user,” says Baum.

 ePac specializes in short runs, is competitively priced, and has offices throughout the U.S., including the Austin, TX office that Baum works with, which is only a few hours away from his operations. But the main difference between ePac and large conventional printers? ePac caters to small and start-up businesses, working alongside them to help them grow and succeed. From the start, Keith Baum knew that working with ePac was different than working with his former pecan packaging supplier.

“I feel like a medium fish in a medium pond now. The key is the no set-up fees, it’s next to unheard of. I couldn’t be happier so far,” says Baum.

If you’re ready for quality flexible packaging products with a low order minimum, even with mixed SKUs, and a fast turnaround, contact ePac today.

Seed-Based Bar Company Finds A Better Way of Ordering Packaging Through Digital Printing

Blake Sorensen grew up learning the importance of a healthy diet, but had to contend with the difficulty of finding foods that wouldn’t trigger his severe nut allergy.

Unfortunately, he was often frustrated by the healthy bars, trail mixes and other snacks on the market, as most are made with nuts or produced in a facility that processes nuts. It was this frustration that later led him to try his hand at making his own seed-based bars.

The best part of this success story? It all started with a class project.

Planting the Seed for A Future Brand

In 2016 while at Indiana University, Sorensen was tasked to identify and solve a social need for a social entrepreneurship class. Drawing on his own allergy experience and the rising number of people affected by food allergies, he decided to make a seed-based and nut-free bar that everyone could enjoy.

“It started as a class project and I kept taking the next step. I made samples, people liked them, so I made more. I started to see that there was a big opportunity, so we did a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter and got $30,000 in pre-orders for the product. Then we launched an online store and sold direct to consumer before selling to traditional retailers,” explains Sorensen.

At the early stages, Sorensen had no idea that this would quickly become a viable consumer brand, but as a full-time MBA student, Sorensen was in the right position to “go all in.” He was already studying entrepreneurship and working on the skills he would need to eventually do something on his own.

“I wanted to start a company at some point in my life but I didn’t think it would be so soon. The idea snowballed to the point that when I graduated in May 2018, right away I went full time on the company,” says Sorensen.

In September 2018, Sorensen officially launched Blake’s Seeds Based as an online store, but the brand quickly grew from there.
Blake Seeds Based got a huge boost when the brand was chosen as one of five companies to be a part of the Kraft Heinz Springboard incubator, a program designed to disrupt and innovate the food industry. The program enabled Sorensen to grow his team, gain more investors, and set the brand on track to be in 1,000 retailers nationwide in a little over a year.

Moving From Traditional To Digital

Once Sorensen was determined to launch his business, his first challenge was finding a co-packer that manufactured out of an allergen-free facility. So many snacks and bars today are made with nuts, milk, soy, or gluten, all top allergens. After he found the right co-packer, he then turned his attention to his snack food’s packaging.

“Before we found ePac, our co-packer was sourcing all the packaging from their contacts. But we always had questions about lead times, changing the design, and the capabilities,” says Sorensen.

The brand was not happy with the current packaging’s consistency, cost, or speed, so they started to look into a different way to order and print their packaging. With a referral to ePac from a trusted colleague, Blake’s Seed Based was able to learn a whole new way of doing things with digital printing.

“ePac had been talking to us for a while, we finally looked into it and it made sense. (With the other packaging company), there were lead time issues, and a lot went back to the plates. Every time we wanted to make changes it would cost us more money. Being a new company, we wanted to move our logo, add this, change stuff around, and digital printing gave us the ability to make these changes,” explains Sorensen.

Blake’s Seed Based dry food packaging

With ePac and digital printing, the brand could then enjoy a faster turnaround time and the flexibility to make as many changes as it needed to the package’s design. Another big win for the brand? ePac’s competitive rate was actually lower than the previous provider.

Today the company orders the packaging directly from ePac and sends it the co-packer. The new rollstock seamlessly runs on existing packaging equipment and there has been no disruption in production. 

“Things are going well! We did our first run recently with the new packaging and it turned out great. It’s exactly what we wanted, we’re super excited about it. We get our product a lot quicker and the flexibility is huge,” says Sorensen.

Blake’s Seed Based seed packaging

And Sorensen knows a thing or two about the importance of a great package. Through natural and flexible food packaging, brands like Blake’s are able to tell the brand story and relay important details like allergen information.

“Consumers shop with their eyes, by looking at the packaging. Your product and your packaging have to speak for themselves. It has to represent the value of the brand, what’s in it, and the feel. It’s critical to have great packaging to succeed,” says Sorensen.

By partnering with ePac, brands like Blake’s Seed Based have the flexibility to make orders on the fly, receive orders quickly, and make various changes as the brand and packaging evolves. Are you ready to learn what digital printing can do for you and your company? Click here to contact one of our packaging experts, or give us a call at 844-623-8603.

CASE STUDY: Granarly

Whiskey-Soaked Granola Proves It’s Tasty To “Go Against the Grain”

There’s granola and then there’s Granarly, the snacking granola brand that, as the company’s slogan suggests, “Goes against the grain.”

It all began in 2015 where Morgan Potts, at just 23, started her granola company, Granarly, in Shreveport, Louisiana. It wasn’t your typical business venture start-up; it all started with a [literal] dream.  

The same week that Morgan Potts got accepted into veterinary school she had a vivid dream “out of the blue” about creating whiskey-soaked granola and the dream even supplied a name – Granarly. At this point, she had never made granola before in her life, but something about the dream stuck in her head. So, she made the unique whiskey-soaked granola and was pleasantly surprised by just how tasty it was. When she decided to bring it with her in small jewelry bags on a snow-boarding trip and share it with friends, she knew she was onto something. 

“It tasted amazing, and people seemed to really enjoy it,” says Potts.

After the rousing success of her first audience test, Potts got to work making her whiskey-soaked snack dreams a reality. 

From Granola Dream to Granarly Reality

It took everything she had to establish Granarly as a brand and start selling her granola to the public. She didn’t have a comprehensive business plan at the start but decided to forge ahead, putting every penny she earned back into the business. 

“I started doing what I could with what I had,” she says.

At this point, Potts had no idea that in only a matter of years, Granarly would become her full-time job. 

In the beginning, she was a one-woman machine, creating and packaging every batch and bag of granola by herself. She was ordering her granola packaging supplies: kraft bags on Amazon, and hand drawing the design onto each label. With her hand-packaged and hand-labeled granola bags, Potts was successfully able to get Granarly into 70 stores.

Granarly’s packaging prior to partnering with ePac.

Her past work experience helped her launch the brand, too. Prior to starting Granarly, Potts worked as a personal assistant to the owner of a wholesale peanut company. There, she learned about food manufacturing, the production line, and just about everything else that went into running a food business. The peanut company later became her co-packer, taking over the production and packaging for Granarly. But in the beginning, it was just Potts working hard to take Granarly to the next level, and one way she really wanted to do that was through packaging.

Granola Packaging That Sells

In 2016 Morgan Potts moved herself and Granarly to Austin, TX, where the company is based today. As the brand grew, Potts made adjustments to the packaging where she could, like upgrading to locally printed labels, but knew that a better package was a must for her brand to experience real growth. 

“We wanted to get into a lot more stores, and Austin is competitive. I knew we needed a package that looked legit,” she says. 

Her current granola packaging was becoming expensive, time-consuming, and didn’t look as professional as she wanted.

“I wasn’t seeing a lot of return sales and the packaging didn’t look that great on the shelf. Since people can’t sample the granola, the packaging has to entice them. It was the first thing I wanted to change once I had a little bit of money,” says Potts.

A Chance Encounter With ePac

At first, Potts wasn’t even sure whether or not she could afford custom pouches, nevermind how to start finding the right packaging company. But she found her answer in an unexpected place: a subscription box she received in the mail. 

“There was a cookie pouch in there and I loved it! I called them and asked them where they got it and that’s how I found out about ePac,” says Potts.

Potts called ePac and learned all about the convenience, quality, and affordability of digital printing. She was thrilled to learn that ePac was opening a location right in her own backyard of Austin, Texas.

“It was the perfect match! ePac was very helpful and walked me through the whole process. It was so easy to send the design over and get them printed. Plus, they’re so quick, I got the packaging so fast,” says Potts.

Before finding ePac and digital printing, Potts didn’t think that high quality, fully branded, custom bags were a possibility for her brand. She had heard that when buying custom packaging she would face huge minimum order quantities and cost, something that wasn’t feasible for her start-up brand. When she heard she could order from ePac with a low minimum quantity, could mix the four SKUs in the one print run, and it would be affordable, it was a game-changer.

“I’ve told so many small businesses about them (ePac). It’s hard starting up! With ePac, the service is fast and the pouches look and feel good; they’re amazing,” says Potts.

And it isn’t just Potts who likes the pouches. Since adopting the new packaging into the product line-up, the brand has seen significant growth, and it’s opened the door for the brand to be sold in some pretty key accounts. 

“It’s been cool to see the growth we hoped for since the packaging change. Since we received the bags, we’ve grown tenfold and got into all of the kitchens in Facebook headquarters in Austin, and it’s all because of the packaging!” says Potts.

With digital printing, small, start-up and even medium-sized businesses can enjoy short runs, flexibility in ordering, and affordable printing costs. Ready to see how digitally printed flexible packaging, pouches, and bags can give your brand the professionalism you’ve been dreaming about? Call us today for a free quote

CASE STUDY: Smackin’ Snacks

Home-Run Snack Line Launches In Just Weeks

Cole Schaefer was born an entrepreneur. He was also born with a serious love for baseball, playing the game since the age of three. Growing up in the sport, he quickly became an avid lover of, you guessed it, sunflower seeds. 

As a middle school baseball player, he grew bored with the sunflower seeds on the market, noticing a major void in the flavored options available. Because of this, he decided to start making his own flavored seeds. 

While Schaefer first made the seeds for himself to enjoy, he quickly noticed that his teammates, coaches, and friends loved them too. He started selling them in small bags to fans throughout middle and high school. His first flavor in those early days was buttered popcorn. Today, Schaefer sells three flavors of sunflower seeds (Sriracha Honey, Tangy Backyard BBQ, and Nashville Hot) in custom, digitally printed stand-up pouches from ePac.

And while the Smackin’ Seeds product launch was only a matter of weeks, the company itself was years in the making. 

From Hobby To Business 

Sunflower seeds have always been a part of Schaefer’s life, but it wasn’t until he was a junior at the University of Minnesota that he decided to turn this passion into a legitimate business. 

“I got backed by independent investors who were interested in helping entrepreneurial kids like me. That’s what set me in motion, and got me to start doing the seeds full time,” says Schaefer.

And the beginning stages proved challenging as he worked to turn his plan into action. At the young age of 20, Schaefer felt the stresses of being a business owner and being his own boss, all while maintaining his schoolwork.

“The main struggle is having the motivation… being your own boss, no one holds you accountable. You have to do that. Also, finding a work-life-school balance can be a challenge,” he says.

But Schaefer is used to working hard and doing his own thing. While he runs Smackin’ Snacks alone, he has support from family and friends. 

“Lots of people want to help because I’m a young kid. That’s been one of the best aspects of running the company so far,” he says.

Schaefer started working on the sunflower seed company full-time in April 2019, then officially launched Smackin’ Snacks two months later. And he is the definition of a one-man company, seasoning, roasting, packaging, marketing and selling the seeds all by himself. Schaefer rents out space in a commercial kitchen near his apartment, putting in hours every chance he gets. He also does samplings around town so people can try the seeds before they buy. 

“When you see people eating them, and enjoying them… it’s definitely a rewarding thing,” he says.

Flexible Packaging for Seeds: From Concept to Print in Weeks

When it came time to find a packaging company, Schaefer knew he needed quality. He also knew he needed a partner with the right technology to accommodate the needs of his small, start-up business. 

“The low minimum quantity and fast lead time is great for a small company, and allows us to have multiple SKUs in a single order,” says Schaefer.

ePac ultimately delivered competitive pricing, the convenience of a local company, a wide selection of pouches and films, and a fast turnaround. In fact, Schaefer took his proof of concept to full-on product in a matter of weeks. 

The seeds are packaged in stand-up pouches that feature a reseal zipper for easy snacking and storing. Tear notches, a hang hole, resealability, and ease of use are all key for his sunflower seed packaging. Add in the unique design and soft-touch finish, and you’ve got a high-quality stand-up pouch that stands-out in the competitive snack food market.

“The ePac team gave us great feedback on the packaging and offered suggestions. Plus, they were able to work around my busy schedule, and timeline,” he says.

ePac provided him with unique, high quality, and differentiated packaging for his sunflower seeds in 15 days. While the flavored seeds are the only goods in Smackin’ Seeds line-up today, Schaefer has bigger plans for the future. 

“My goal is for us to be a large, healthy, and flavorful snack company. We aim to provide quality ingredients in quality packaging that people will enjoy and continue to come back and eat over and over again,” says Schaefer.

Today the seeds are sold at Bobby & Steve’s Autoworld stores, the largest gas station chain in the Twin Cities area. By 2020, Smackin’ Seeds will be available to purchase in all of their stores, and online at www.smackinsnacks.com

If you’re a snack food brand like Smackin’ Snacks looking for custom snack packaging, give us a call at 844-623-8603, or request a free quote, today.

CASE STUDY: Evolve Brands

Evolve Brands is out to make the world a better place through mindful snacking. The company’s two brands, Gorilly Goods and Supernola, are organic, plant-based, non-gmo, and gluten-free snacks that boast real ingredients. Both brands are packaged in on-the-go, flexible, single-serve bags from ePac flexible packaging, the first supplier in North America built entirely on the latest wide-web digital printing technology.

At the time that Evolve Brands was launching Supernola, the company was facing the challenge of being a small, start-up company looking for a supplier in an environment where large minimum orders and long lead times were considered the norm. In the search for the right supplier, the company came across ePac and was happy to learn that with its digital printing technology, Evolve could get the right package, whether it be for natural food packaging or a snack packaging design in general, without the pressures of a large order or long lead time. While these were important issues, Evolve also needed a supplier that had the best capabilities to print the perfect package.

“We knew that the quality of the film was super important, as was the design and graphics. When choosing a supplier, we wanted to be sure that whichever company we chose could produce quality film with bold colors to represent the unique superfood ingredients in Supernola,” says Frank Jimenez, Managing Partner, Evolve Brands.

Why Digital Printing

While launching Supernola, the Evolve team knew they were going to face minimum order challenges being a small company. They had some knowledge about digital printing, and for this reason knew that this was the best way to go. Evolve reached out to ePac and quickly saw that the company could produce quality packages with high impact graphics, all within a short amount of time, since ePac offers customers a 5-day turnaround.  

Evolve later acquired the brand, Gorilly Goods, and all of the manufacturing that came with it. Evolve quickly switched everything from Gorilly Goods over to ePac and digital printing due to its many cost and time benefits, as well as the improved design process. There were bolder colors available with digital printing, with a fast turnaround to get new products to market quickly.

Digital pouch printing also offers Evolve the chance to quickly make changes to the package’s design. With traditional printing, it would cost thousands of dollars to get plates updated to change the design, and it would take 6-8 weeks. At that time, Evolve had already tweaked Supernola’s package multiple times over several months. With ePac and digital printing, customers like Evolve Brands can tweak and make changes to the package, like a new flavor or promotion, on-demand.

Looking for the Right Packaging Partnership

Frank Jimenez knows how important packaging is to a brand’s success.

“Packaging is everything, it’s part of the story of your brand. Of course, you start with a good quality product, but then the package must portray the good quality or the consumer will never choose it,” he says.

The right partner had to be able to produce a beautiful and durable package, but also offer insight and advice to get the package to be the best it can be.

“We didn’t come to ePac with a complete list of what we wanted. We were open to ideas and suggestions to make the brands better,” says Jimenez.

ePac suggested a higher quality film for the company’s Gorilly Goods line to match the quality of the product inside. The new film is now stronger and offers a premium, sturdy feel to consumers. Also important to Evolve was the opportunity to see ePac in action, not just from a computer screen. ePac offers its customers the chance to see its capabilities and see where the package is made, so that its customers can be involved in the entire production process.

Evolve believes it provides more than snacks— it also supports health, truth, nutrition, flavor and convenience. The Evolve team was looking for a partner, rather than merely a supplier, to come alongside them in this, and that’s what they got with ePac.