Buck Bone Organics Enjoys Elevated Customer Service with ePac Boulder

Buck Bone Organics is a family-owned company that creates dog treats from naturally shed elk, deer, and moose antlers. Jackie Steigleman and her husband Mark started the company in 2014 and are dedicated to keeping dogs happy and healthy, while ensuring as little environmental impact as possible. 

Beginnings of a Brand

Jackie and Mark ran their own garden center, but they wanted to try something new and focus on selling one product online. It was Mark who suggested they create antler chews for dogs.

“I said ‘OK, let’s give it a try… I’ll give you six months and we will see how it goes.’ And within 30 days it exploded!” said Jackie Steigleman, Co-Founder. 

The segment itself was experiencing massive growth, but it was Buck Bone Organics that set the standard for quality antler chews. 

“In the beginning there wasn’t much competition; only 10-15 companies. We were different because we focus on quality and making it simple for the consumer to buy the product, based on dog size and jaw strength. Plus, we consistently deliver a quality antler,” said Steigleman.

Since Buck Bone Organics’ success, many other antler treat companies are following suit with better quality and various size offerings. 

“Now there are hundreds of companies in the segment, but we are a pioneer and one of the largest suppliers of antler in the country right now,” said Steigleman.

Since the company was growing so quickly, in 2019 the Steiglemans decided to move the company (and the staff) from Connecticut to Bozeman, Montana to be closer to their antler source. This move alone shaved off weeks in waiting for inventory and sped up manufacturing. 

Pet Treat Packaging Challenges

Buck Bone Organics was experiencing massive growth, but in the beginning, their organic dog treat packaging just wasn’t keeping up.  

In the beginning their pouches were being manufactured in China, on an offset printer. Although the quality was great, the timeline of getting the bags in house was not. In order to be cost effective they were ordering 3 bags, and finishing off with stickers to identify the different SKUs. At first this was fine, but as the company was expanding they needed a bag that was a finished product, that they didn’t have to spend time labeling. In order to keep up with the competitive growth, it was clear it was time to make the switch to a digital printer.

They found a U.S. digital printer, but they didn’t offer the customer experience or professionalism that Buck Bone Organics was looking for. 

The company needed a digital printer that understood how to handle a growing company with 50 SKUs. 

“We needed someone to understand that we’re not a company that orders the same thing every time. We have orders coming in, some for 100, some for 100,000,” said Jessica Leslie, Graphic Designer, and VP of Production for the brand.

Buck Bone Organics Packaging with ePac

In August 2020 the brand began working with ePac, transforming its package ordering process. 

“We needed the ability to get bags in a relatively quick turnaround with good pricing and ePac did it,” said Leslie.

Being able to digitally print with a printer that understood the needs of a growing company made it easy for the brand to print small and large orders for each SKU in a single run.

With ePac’s digital printing, Buck Bone Organics could take advantage of short runs, fast turnaround, and unlimited options for colors and graphics. Since there are never any plates, they could make frequent changes to the design.

“It’s great being able to go in and alter what we need to. We have had to make artwork changes, adding holiday designs and updates per regulation changes, and it’s easy to do with digital printing,” said Leslie.

When the brand came to ePac with a barrier issue that made the bags appear sunken, ePac’s team of experts was able to quickly find a fix to make sure they had the best dog treat packaging possible. 

“We had issues with our old biscuit bag where air was escaping due to elevation and altitude changes…ePac figured it out and changed the barrier for us,” said Leslie.

The ePac and Buck Bone Organics teams were able to come together and make not just great packaging, but a partnership.

“ePac staff is easy to talk to and very personable. It’s been so important to have a good team to work with,” said Steigleman. 

Today, ePac’s Boulder, CO location creates a variety of stand-up pouches for the company’s 50 SKUs, in a range of sizes in both resealable and single-serve bags. The antler chews and biscuits are sold nationwide, online as well as in retail stores. 

Pet Food Packaging Partner

Looking for a reliable partner to digitally print your custom pet food packaging? Take advantage of all the flexible packaging solutions ePac has to offer. Call us today for a free quote. 

The Top 6 Trends in Pet Food Packaging You Need to Know About

Pet food manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve their product and packaging in order to better suit the needs of pet owners. There are many trends emerging in the industry, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with what is happening.

2020 saw the COVID-19 pandemic force people to stay at home, sparking a rise in both e-commerce sales and larger packages of pet food. The convenience that comes with buying online for bulk orders only fuels this growth as owners focus on ensuring their pets’ health is top priority!

And it’s true what they say about pet food. People love their pets, but not at the expense of quality or sustainability! And with a growing number of people who want only natural and organic options for both cat foods as well as dog treats (grain-free especially), it’s no wonder that these two trends continue to rise in popularity among animal enthusiasts.

What about the packaging?

Since pet owners want premium products, it only makes sense that they would want premium packaging too. According to a study from globalmonitor.us (Pet Food Packaging Market Trends, Statistics, Growth, and Forecasts (globalmonitor.us), premium packaging plays a key role in appealing to those consumers seeking the best in dog and cat food. So, as you package your next pet food product, consider these top six must-haves to gain consumer attention and sales.

  1. Focus on freshness. 

Keeping pet food and treats fresh should be top of mind when creating the perfect pet package. Focus on using high-quality films with barrier protection to do just that, as well as using a reseal zipper. This allows consumers to securely close the bag or pouch in between feedings, which helps to keep air out and freshness in, extending the shelf life of the product inside. Plus, did you know that consumers prefer the convenience of reseal packaging? 

2Focus on using high-quality films with barrier protection to do just that, as well as using a reseal zipper. 

2. Choose convenience.

Speaking of convenience, consider adding convenience features to your pouch like a stand-up bottom, handles for easy carrying, and easy open tear notches, in addition to the aforementioned reseal zippers. Consider also that consumers love pouches for their lightweight, shatterproof quality, as well as easy portability.

3. Use a see-through window.

Consider adding a transparent window to your pet food pouch or bag so consumers to see the treats inside before they purchase. These windows are a popular choice to showcase what’s inside, and further support your claims on the label of the good stuff inside. 

Use a see-through window

4. Go for the green.

According to the study from globalmonitor.us, sustainability is a growing concern among many pet owners, impacting purchasing decisions. Consider using recyclable or compostable films, or post-consumer recycled content in your package to lessen your environmental impact. Also consider how utilizing digitally printed flexible packaging can lower your company’s carbon footprint. And lastly, did you know that using eco-friendly packaging can help to set your brand apart? Many packagers today are using sustainable packaging as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors, as sustainability plays a growing role in branding and consumer perception.

5. Opt for high-impact graphics.

Since branding and consumer perception are so important, consider how great graphics can help to get your brand noticed. Whether it’s bold and playful, or simple and clean, you know how impactful a great design can be. Use unique and creative artwork, clear images, and vibrant colors to set yourself apart from the competition. Did you know that with pouches you get 360° of space to create your design and tell the brand story? Since you’re not limited to a label, you can use every inch of your package to really capture consumer attention.

6. Choose custom pouches.

Fully branded, custom pouches speak volumes for your brand. And using high-quality materials with great graphics assures pet owners of the quality of the product inside. Since they look and feel premium, packagers today are using custom packaging like pouches to justify charging higher prices for their pet food and treats.

The ePac Difference

Did you know that according to the study mentioned above, flexible packaging is dominating the pet food market? It’s actually not surprising as the package type satisfies all of the six trends mentioned here, and more. 

We know you care about your pets like they are family, and we want to make sure their needs are met. That’s why ePac created pet food packages that have all the convenience features included for a happy customer-pet experience. If you need custom packaging, or just want more information on how to create the perfect package for your pet, contact us today!

Shameless Pets Uses Spot Gloss to Pop on Shelf

Shameless Pets is a unique dog treat brand that is out to tackle the issue of food waste. Co-Founder James Bello started the company in the Chicago area with Alex Waite in October 2018.

Prior to creating the brand, Bello was a corporate food buyer at Target where he says he saw so much food wasted. After learning even more about the issue of global food waste, Bello had the idea to make quality dog treats out of all this unused food, though he wasn’t yet sure how it could be done. 

It was fate when he met Waite, a food scientist, at a start-up event in 2017. The duo connected over the issue of food waste and their love of dogs. Together they launched Shameless Pets, a healthy dog treat company focused on using upcycled ingredients.  

Launching the Brand

In October 2018, Shameless Pets officially launched with four SKUs in mass retailers nationwide. Because the brand’s original plan was always to enter mass retailers right from the start, it took time to gear up for launch. In fact, Bello says it took them 18 months to build a solid supply chain that would be scalable as the brand grew. In that time, they also finalized the recipe, using human-grade upcycled ingredients to create the grain-free superfoods dog treats. Once the recipe was finalized, it was time to create the custom pet food packaging. 

In the beginning the brand was using a flexographic printer to create the pouches for the dog treats. It worked fine but didn’t offer the flexibility that many brands, especially start-ups, need. 

“I didn’t know anything about digital printing. We were using a flexo printer… then I got connected to ePac and it made my life way easier. It has allowed us to do smaller runs, and not have to buy into months and months of supply,” said Bello.

The brand was able to do this because ePac uses digital printing technology that allows for short runs with a fast turnaround, plus the flexibility to make changes to the package design, time and time again.

“Like any emerging brand, we listen to our customers and make changes to our packaging. With ePac and digital printing, we are able to make changes on a consistent, regular basis. We’re not stuck to the plates,” said Bello. 

Since their launch, Bello says they have been able to make quick changes to their pet food packaging design such as changing the call out on the packaging and adding secondary colors. With digital printing they were able to make changes on the fly without needing to worry about time-consuming and expensive plates.

“We’ve done it all. We have touched our bag design five times maybe since 2018. Having ePac and having someone with digital printing ability to do that has been super helpful for us,” said Bello.

Forming the Right Partnership 

For Shameless Pets, finding ePac in 2019 at a Global Pet Food Show has allowed the brand to make upgrades to their pet food packaging material and take advantage of the big benefits of digitally printed flexible packaging. ePac was able to bring other features like spot gloss, high-impact graphics, and soft touch to the packaging. Today, all the Shameless Pets products are packaged in ePac’s resealable stand up pouches with a clear window that its customers want. 

“We did a soft-touch with ePac and our customers liked that. It adds value to the packaging. We also heard from customers that they wanted to see the treats before buying them,” said Bello. “ePac has the spot gloss ability so we were able to upgrade and have that ultra-clear window on our package.”

ePac’s spot gloss capabilities allow Shameless Pets to have both gloss and matte on the same pouch. The entire pouch is soft touch matte, which would typically make the window cloudy. But with spot gloss, the pouch can be printed with an ultra-clear window with a gloss feel, while the rest of it remains the matte soft touch. 

Given Bello’s background as a buyer, and now as a brand owner, he knows the importance of the right package.

“Packaging is incredibly important for a brand. The vast majority of our business is in brick and mortar. Making sure that we show up on shelf correctly is incredibly important,” said Bello. 

As a printing partner, ePac is there to help small brands get started, grow the brand, and plan for the future.  

“Working with ePac has been great and everyone is super easy to work with. They get where we are in the brand and they understand our needs as we continue to grow. Chadd is awesome. And it’s super easy to drive down to the ePac plant,” said Bello. 

Since launching in 2018, Shameless Pets has grown and grown. Today the brand sells 20 different SKUs in 3,000 stores and has a strong web presence on the company’s website, Amazon, and on chewy.com. Even more growth is on the horizon as the brand launches a new line of calming chews for anxious dogs and even a line of cat treats. 

Finding the Right Packaging Supplier

Are you a growing brand in need of a better way to package your products? Or maybe you’re a start-up company looking to take advantage of the flexibility digitally printing allows for flexible packaging for pet food. Either way, give us a call and we can help you find sustainable pet food packaging for your next project. 

Pet Food Packaging: Creating Enticing Packaging for a Booming Market

Man’s best friend is no longer just that. More and more, pets are being viewed as a part of the family, causing the pet food industry to see exponential growth, especially with smaller brands focused on quality ingredients. In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 67% of U.S. households own a pet, but it’s the millennials that are taking pet ownership to a whole new level, and turning the pet food industry upside down. 

Pets Have Become Part of the Family 

According to another survey from the APPA, 90% of the 1,200 pet owners surveyed said that their pets are family. And their spending habits show it, with the current uptick of doggy bakeries, subscription boxes for pets, pet spas, and pet insurance. In 2018, pet care was a $225 billion business in North America, according to data from market research firm Edge by Ascential. By 2023, the firm expects that figure to rise to $281 billion. And the biggest area pet owners are spending: pet food. 

Pet Food Spending 

Specifically, millennials are willing to spend more money on pet food than previous generations. And because pets are now viewed as a part of the family, millennials are choosing to buy more natural and organic lines of pet food that boast all-natural, grain-free, and specialty blend foods. 

Today’s popular food brands include the small, local, artisan and fresh food options that deliver the healthier qualities today’s pet owner is looking for. There are even more natural and organic options for dog treats, bones, and snacks to meet this growing pet food trend. 

What does this mean for legacy brands like Pedigree and Kibbles ‘n Bits? They are facing slowing sales, while smaller, gourmet brands’ sales are booming.

Photo from our friends at Riley’s Organics

Developing Pet Food Packaging That Attracts Customers 

It’s no surprise that many brands are focusing on providing pet food options that are natural and gourmet to attract pet owners looking for wholesome ingredients, fair sourcing, and a quality product. 

As pet food brand owners look at their packaging, it’s important to ensure what consumers see first (ie, your packaging), matches the quality of the product inside. 

When brands look to create a pet food package, consider some of these best practices to stay up on the latest pet food packaging trends, and ensure your package stands out on the busy shelf: 

Clear Messaging

Be sure to include clear messaging around the ingredients, sourcing, and the benefits for your pet. Highlight any key attributes like organic, natural, grain-free, or free-range. 

Photo from our friends at Tribal Pet Foods

Use Great Branding

Whether it’s playful, minimalist, or whimsical, consider how impactful a great design can be. Use great artwork, sharp images and vibrant colors.

Eco-Friendly Packaging

Consider how using an eco-friendly package like a digitally printed pouch or recyclable bag can set your brand apart. Also, consider using recyclable or compostable films and post-consumer recycled content in your package.

Choose the Right Package

Another important factor is consumer preference. Consumers love the convenience and lightweight, durable quality of pouches. Plus, since they stand up and offer easy open and reclose properties, pouches are the preferred format for pet food.

Digitally-Enhanced Packaging 

Consider including a QR code linking to information on where you source your ingredients. You can also use a QR code to offer fun games, recipe ideas, and brand history information for consumers.

Connect with Consumers on Social Media

Outside of the packaging, how can you connect with today’s pet owners in the digital space? Meet your consumers where they hang out: social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Encourage consumers to post photos with their pets and your product, and tag your page. Be a part of their lives and consider sharing stories, information, fun ideas, and more to keep your consumer base engaged.

Pet food packaging today should offer the quality and aesthetics to match the quality and well-thought-out ingredients in today’s popular gourmet food options. A great package goes a long way in helping your product stand out on the crowded pet food shelf, and capture the attention of doting millennial pet owners everywhere. 

Partnering with a Pet Food Packaging Manufacturer

Whether you’re a small business just starting out, or a large CPG, you know that in the pet food segment, a premium product needs a premium package. Want to learn more about what ePac and our innovative digital printing technology can do for you? Call us today or request a quote to learn our flexible packaging solutions and how we can help you create the best pet food packaging for your brand.