Undercover Snacks, a better-for-you chocolate snack, is made from crispy quinoa, lightly covered in premium chocolate. Coming in a variety of flavors, including seasonal options, this healthy treat has come a long way since it originally launched in 2016.
Founder and CEO, Diana Levy, is a self-proclaimed chocoholic who began creating gourmet chocolates as a hobby in 2013. When her daughters were diagnosed with celiac disease in 2016, Levy took her love for chocolate and desire to create a gluten-free snack to the kitchen. The result? Undercover Snacks.
Ramping Up Growth
Undercover Snacks is no stranger to growth. After starting the brand in her kitchen, Levy shifted her focus to store demonstrations and social media, resulting in national exposure. How? It was a matter of having a really great product at a time that consumers needed and wanted it most.
“The product is gluten free and allergy friendly, and since we manufacture in our own facility, we can ensure there is no cross contamination,” said Levy. “Dieticians and nutritionists recommend our product for clients in need of allergy-friendly snacks.”
Additionally, the snacks fill a need in the market as consumers look for better-for-you options for snacks and treats that don’t sacrifice taste.
“We use simple, higher quality ingredients for our products, which is why they taste so amazing, said Levy. “Our products are so incredibly delicious that it is easy for people looking for a healthier option to make the switch.”
After receiving enough positive feedback, Levy launched the brand in a handful of stores in 2016, and by 2017 had garnered attention from some large retailers, including Whole Foods. As she began to scale the company, she had to make the decision of where to manufacture the snacks.
“In the beginning I tried to find a co-manufacturer to make them for us. But the product is so unique; the ratio of chocolate to quinoa is so small they weren’t able to make it the way that I wanted. So, I made the decision build out my own factory in New Jersey,” said Levy.
That’s when Levy’s husband Michael, who has decades of experience working with food companies, joined Undercover. Together they opened their own state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in East Hanover, NJ. The factory, which opened in 2018, has the capacity to run 40,000 bags per day, which is a good thing since the brand is currently sold in over 4,000 stores, and is on track to double or even triple that in the next year.
Today, you can find Undercover Snacks throughout the US in grocery stores like Kroger and Whole Foods, independent retailers, natural, and convenience stores, as well as on college campuses and at food service locations. They are also available on Amazon and directly from the brand’s website.
The Undercover Packaging Story
Getting the brand from Levy’s kitchen to national store chains took some time, as well as finding the right partners. Her journey is unique as she learned some hard lessons early on in trying to find the right custom chocolate packaging supplier. She initially printed the bags overseas, but when she received the first part of the shipment, the quality was not what she hoped for and she determined she could not use the bags.
“I lost my money on that order… and I didn’t even get the rest of the packaging. I learned a hard lesson that way,” said Levy.
After that, she found a company that did rotogravure printing for their pouches. To get started, Levy had to purchase the cylinders for the set up and commit to a large order. After receiving her order though, she faced yet another setback.
“Almost days after I received my order, Whole Foods asked me to change something on my packaging before going into their stores,” described Levy.
Not wanting to lose the massive retailer, she obliged. Disappointed, Levy felt the blow yet again of unused packaging and wasted materials. But after some encouragement from her husband, she got up and kept pressing on.
“I realized that I would probably have to make other updates to the packaging as the brand evolved, and I did not want to continue to incur the expense of printing plates each time I made a change. After some initial research, I knew I needed to find a small run, digital printer in the U.S., which eventually led me to ePac. I’ve been using them ever since.”
ePac supplies all the stand up pouches in multiple sizes for the various Undercover Chocolate products. The chocolate snack packaging is resealable for optimal sharing, snacking, and storing. But the best part is now Levy can place small orders, make changes to the chocolate packaging design easily, and print packaging as needed.
“ePac solved a huge problem for us.” said Levy. “With short runs we were able to make updates as I received new certifications, like gluten-free, nut-free, Non-GMO Verified and Rainforest Alliance-certified. Each time I received a new one, I wanted to put it on the packaging immediately. We also grew so quickly that it was extremely helpful to be able to place frequent small orders.
With digital printing, small brands like Undercover can take advantage of ordering on a flexible, as-needed basis and make changes to the package as often as necessary. And, there are never any plates to set up or purchase.
“With digital printing, I don’t have to invest in tooling and plates and I’m able to make changes to the design quickly, and print small runs,” said Levy. “And I am not charged to run more SKUs. We can add a few hundred bags of a new flavor to try and just tag it onto an existing order.”
Digital printing with ePac helps small businesses get started and grow without having to make a costly upfront investment. Ready to learn how digital printing for snack packaging can help your small business? Call us today to chat with a flexible packaging expert, or click here to request a quote.