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 biscuit. 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 colours and cartoon monsters on the individual flow packs.  

There are now three flavours – 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 metres 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, colours, flavourings or preservatives of any kind. Made with whole grain oats that are high in fibre 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.