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.
Certified by Public Health England’s Change4Life programme, Snackzillasoft-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.
Evolved Snacks is using the perfect combination of digital print and recyclable film to package its new range of freeze-dried fruit toppings in grab-and-go environmentally friendly pouches.
When young entrepreneur Dom Kristy set out to revolutionise the UK dried fruit snack market, he looked to space for inspiration. After finishing a degree in nutritional science at Plymouth University, he set up his own business with the vision to offer a healthy snack option for adults and kids alike. His mission was to produce fruit snacks with no added extras, and the method he chose to preserve the fresh fruit was freeze drying, a technology best known from NASA’s space missions.
“Often people believe they are eating healthy snacks just because they are fruit-based, but too many brands fill their products with extra sugars,” said Dominic, who is determined to help improve bad eating habits. “Freeze drying preserves the taste, texture and colour, and more importantly, the nutritional value of fresh fruit without adding any junk ingredients. We wanted to bring out all the goodness in fruit, make it more easily accessible and improve people’s diet.”
Healthy convenience in fruity flavours
The result of Dominic’s mission was little bite-sized pieces of dried fruit that have the sweet and sour taste of candy, the light crunch of popcorn, and the goodness of real fruit. After several years of perfecting the freeze-drying technique for fresh fruit, the first products from Evolved Snacks hit the market under the tagline ‘Evolved Fruit for the Modern Primate’.
Launched in several delicious fruit combinations, each pack contains less than 50 kcals and has no additives. Dried fruit is also high in fibre, gluten-free and vegan, perfect for people with a range of specific dietary requirements, and the customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Following a slightly unconventional route to market, the new products were first listed on Amazon Prime and also chosen as a supplier for Google’s European HQ, in Dublin. The fruit snacks have now found their way into subscription-based nutritional boxes from the likes of Healthy Nibbles, Love Free From, and Treat Trunks.
“We scaled up during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the wrong time for it, but we also had the opportunity to supply a number of airlines and nationals railways, which we are very proud of,” added Dominic, who has big ambitions for his company. “We want to become an established cross-selling brand, so we are now pushing into retail and hospitality. We want Evolved Snacks to be a household name and lead the way in food innovation for healthy snacks.”
Recyclable pouches packing a punch
The tasty fruit bites are also perfect as toppings for porridge, yoghurt, cereal, in baking and even salads, so to make them even more convenient and respond to customers’ demand, they will now also be available in larger portions, packed in stand-up, resealable pouches produced by ePac UK Silverstone.
“We are introducing this new product, because we realised our customers often used our on-the-go fruit bites as toppings on their porridge, so we felt the need to introduce a bigger pouch, which is resealable so that the fruit stays fresh for longer,” explained Dominic.
But the Evolved team has gone one better with their packaging: the new larger pouches are made from 100% recyclable polyethylene (PE) and printed digitally on ePac’s fleet of HP Indigo presses for the ultimate in sustainability.
“From the start, we wanted recyclable packaging and ePac made this possible for us. When we switched to recyclable, we were scared that it might have a big impact on the barrier properties. This didn’t happen as ePac offered us a high-barrier recyclable option, which was very reassuring for us,” recounted Dominic. “Finding the correct barrier to pack our products also helps to limit food waste, which is what we are trying to support as a company,” he added.
The new pouches are made from a mono-material laminated construction, where one layer of PE is printed and then laminated to another layer of PE to provide strength and durability. This means that they can be recycled where supermarkets provide collection points for plastic shopping bags, such as Tesco’s new recycling scheme for ‘soft’ plastic, which is due to be rolled out nationwide.
“When we first met Dominic, it quickly become clear that our PE-based films, which are fully recyclable, would be just right for Evolved’s new toppings,” said Nick Monk, Sales Director for UK and Ireland. “The films are fully customizable and has high-barrier functionality for optimal product protection. Similar to standard pouch constructions, the films are oxygen and water vapour resistant, bringing the same benefits as existing non-recyclable solutions.”
Keeping it lean with digital print
On top of the great environmental credentials afforded by the filmic material, there are also many added sustainability benefits of digital printing from ePac. These include low minimum order quantities (MOQs) and fast delivery of less than two weeks from artwork approval to finished pouches. All in all, creating a lot less waste compared to the traditional supply chain.
Dominic can simply order the number of pouches he wants, when he wants them, rather than having to order huge MOQs and wait months for them to be produced and delivered. With no printing plates to be made, trying out new designs and concepts is easy and quick, and you don’t end up throwing out loads of unwanted pouches.
“For the new toppings range, we were able to order a small quantity of fully printed pouches from ePac to test the market first, just in case something wasn’t quite right, and we needed to adjust it in the next order, and this was of course enormously helpful for us,” explained Dominic.
Finding a local partner for packaging also speeding up proceedings, with no fears of packaging that had been made abroad ending up stuck in customs and taking ages to arrive. Keeping it local improves the carbon footprint of each pouch, as it has not travelled hundreds, or even thousands, of miles before even being filled.
This agile workflow can mean the difference between a small start-up making it or falling at the packaging hurdle, and the advantages were not lost on Dominic: “The quick turnaround time helped to launch the product to the market as soon as possible, and I think having a local supplier played a big part in this.”
Realizing the dream of sustainable packaging
Getting the right kind of packaging at the right price has been just one of the pieces in the puzzle for Evolved Snacks, albeit a very important one. Starting a new company selling on-the-go snacks during a year of national lockdowns, with so many restrictions on travel, has definitely not been easy, which is why having a great packaging partner has meant so much.
“A special thanks to Christina Coles and the rest of the ePac team, who have been amazing with continuous communication, sending me samples, emails with updates, and even photos of the finished pouches as soon as they were produced!” said Dominic, who has learnt a lot through this new partnership. “Before I met ePac, I didn’t know much about digital print for packaging at all,” he said. “But I can definitely see the difference from our previous pouch. The quality of the graphics is great!”
He concluded, “With the fantastic support from ePac and the team’s expert knowledge of all things flexible packaging, I was able to make my hopes a reality. A lot of young brands want their products to be perfect, and so did I. Right from the start, I wanted the packaging to be sustainable, but that wasn’t possible at the time. So now, the fact that our new range is being launched in sustainable packaging is very exciting. I mean, it’s 100% sustainable!”
Are you looking to realise your dream of sustainable packaging? Contact us today to find out more about our green solutions and see for yourself how digital print and new innovative substrates can get your products to market without damaging the environment.
Starting up a brand-new business from scratch is never easy – doing it during a national lockdown even harder. Now throw in three small children, aged 5, 4, and 3, and you have a real challenge on your hands!
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough, largely because of the schools being closed. It was impossible to make sales calls with three small kids screaming in the background!” says Dominique Woolf, who launched her own range of Thai-inspired sauces in the summer of 2020.
But by working every night after the kids had gone to bed and through the weekend, while doing the more responsive tasks during the day, she has successfully managed to build her own distinctive brand – The Woolf’s Kitchen.
She explains, “My husband does most of the childcare at the weekends, so I can work on the business. It’s not been an ideal balance, but we’ve done what we can to make it work, and my products are now stocked in delis and independents across the UK.”
Fulfilling a dream
“I was at a career crossroads and knew I wanted to start my own business,” Dominique says looking back. “After much soul-searching, I realised I wanted to pursue my passion for food. My Thai auntie used to make these amazing sauces, and it all clicked – I knew I wanted to take those to market, so I started developing my own range.”
Getting from the first idea to the official launch took a lot of dedication and many late nights for the Leith-trained chef. An initial test selling the sauces at a local farmers’ market to see if the recipes would appeal, gave Dominique the positive feedback she needed. She decided to put all her efforts into the venture and spent the next seven months working to set up her business and develop the branding.
The launch was a great success. Within the first three months over 1800 bottles were sold by more than 30 stockists, and the sauces were featured in The Times, Metro, and included in Stylist magazine’s Style List. Shortly after, The Woolf’s Kitchen was chosen by Theo Paphitis as one of his Small Business Sunday winners on Twitter, and just four months into her journey, Dominique was nominated for Female Start-Up of the Year by Enterprise Nation, a support network for small businesses, where she reached the final.
But it was not all plain sailing. “It has been tough getting visibility with the products in-store when footfall is so low, and people are spending less time browsing,” says Dominique, who offered a point of sale flyers to shops and free bottles to sample with takeaway food to spread the word.
Finding the Premium Look
Not content with selling flavourful sauces, which she describes as “bold, punchy, and vibrant”, Dominique has recently expanded into the snacks category with a range of tasty nut mixes. Again, she found inspiration in her Thai roots. “The Thai love nuts; they use them in cooking and snack on them constantly. They’re a deep-rooted part of the culture, and my auntie used to make these amazing caramelised cashews, so it was a natural progression for me to extend into nuts,” she explains.
For small to medium runs of multiple SKUs, digital print with its excellent colour reproduction, high quality, and low MOQs is the perfect solution for start-ups and entrepreneurs alike. Unlike traditional printing methods, it doesn’t require printing plates or long lead times, so new products can get to market quickly at the right price point. “As a small company, low MOQ is essential, and the fact we can amend the design on subsequent rounds is a huge bonus,” says Dominique.
To create the new pouches for Woolf Bites, ePac used a BOPP film material optimised specifically for digital printing and ideal for the packing of snacks and crisps. The film has been designed to keep moisture and oxygen from entering the pack and helps maintain product consistency, avoid spoilage and preserve the quality of the nuts.
Printed with high-definition photo-like graphics and perfect solid colours on ePac’s HP Indigo Digital Presses, the packs come with added shelf impact that is bound to grab the attention of snack-hungry consumers. “The product really stands out on the shelf. We are extremely happy that our design has been brought to life exactly how we wanted it. ePac really delivered for us,” comments Dominique.
Future ambition with smart packaging
The story doesn’t end here; Dominique has her sight set on introducing more products and using new innovation to make her packaging work even harder for her brand. One of the new initiatives will be leveraging the power of ePacConnect, the new smart packaging solution from ePac UK. “We are adding QR codes to our next round of packaging and I’m really excited about the possibility of added consumer engagement,” she explains.
ePacConnect allows brands to engage directly with consumers through the use of serialised QR codes. By cultivating more brand engagement, The Woolf’s Kitchen can expand its marketing strategy and increase sales through loyalty programmes, promotional campaigns, personalised content experiences, and even games!
The codes can also be used for a host of other purposes including verification of authenticity, track and trace, security alerts, and to collect data on market and supply chain activities.
“The versatility of digital printing continues to drive innovation in flexible packaging and offer a multitude of possibilities, so brands of any size can connect directly with the consumer,” comments Ryan Kiley, Director of Market Development at ePac Holdings. “The Woolf’s Kitchen is tapping into this potential, and it will be exciting to see where this will take them and our partnership.”
With both the sauces and the nuts about to launch in high-end department store chain Selfridges & Co, Dominique is well on her way to achieving her ambition, “My dream is to become a recognisable UK brand with distribution not just in the independents, but also in mainstream supermarkets. I envisage having a much wider range of products – it doesn’t stop at sauces and nuts. That’s just the beginning!” she concludes.
Would you like to have the same flexibility in your packaging choices? Call us today to learn more about how ePac can help you.
Snack food entrepreneur Olly Hiscocks has come a long way since starting his business in his parents’ kitchen. Since 2014, Olly’s has gone from an artisan start-up selling at the local market to an international business that serves big retailers, travel operators, tech companies, online shops and more with olives, pretzels and nuts.
Along the way, having a standout high-quality packaging with impactful graphics has been a central part of Olly’s vision of bringing ethically sourced, healthy, and flavorful snacks to the on-the-go market.
Olly’s Olive Revolution
The idea for the business was born when Olly spotted an opportunity in the market for flavored olives that were 100% natural, with no artificial additives or preservatives. He also wanted to keep the fruit as fresh and colorful as possible without the use of heat treatment to conserve them. In most cases, olives are pasteurised to increase their shelf life, but that process can adversely affect the flavor, texture and nutritional value.
Instead Olly moved away from the traditional method and launched his all-natural olives in three delicious flavors: Basil & Garlic, Chilli & Rosemary, and Lemon & Thyme.
He explains, “We were the first olive brand not to use heat treatment but instead offer a tastier, crunchier, more natural taste experience to customers. We only use fresh ingredients and the result is juicy olives in unique marinades that I believe even olive ‘haters’ will love.”
His innovative approach was carried through to the packaging, which is bright, bold and colorful: “We don’t just want our products to taste amazing, they need to look amazing too.” And right from the start, it was stand-up pouches that proved the perfect format for Olly, who soon expanded his product range.
Moving into Nuts with Funky Pouches
Not content with just olives and pretzels, Olly decided to expand his reach in the snack category with a new range of nut mixes, another venture that promises to disrupt the market. As with his olives, Olly is employing the best production techniques to achieve a unique, full-bodied flavor and using only ethically sourced nuts.
To get the nut products out in packaging that reflects their exceptional quality, sustainable ethos and entrepreneurial nature, the company partnered with flexible packaging specialist ePac UK Silverstone.
From the get-go, Olly knew that any new nut product would need strong shelf impact to succeed in the competitive snack sector. He also wanted to launch the range very quickly and so began the search for a new packaging supplier that could offer high quality, fast delivery and full design flexibility.
Having spoken to a number of other brands, Olly found that ePac, with its state-of-the-art digital print capabilities and sophisticated converting lines, came highly recommended.
“We were very much up against it from a time perspective, and the ePac team were very supportive in being flexible with production lead times so we could hit our launch date,” he says.
Olly was already aware of the benefits of digital printing, and the results didn’t disappoint. “Digital gives an incredible quality of print,” he says. “We have always been really insistent on making sure that our brand matches the quality of the product, and the finish ePac delivers does that perfectly.”
He adds, “As a smaller brand who likes to make small tweaks to branding, ePac offers the perfect solution. Flexible, short lead times and low medium order quantities really helps when you’re launching a new product.”
Small MOQs with just-in-time delivery also equal reduced environmental impact, as there is no need to order tens of thousands of pouches that need storing for weeks or months, Olly doesn’t have to worry about warehousing with its associated costs and energy use. Nor will he end up with redundant stock going to landfill if the packaging design or business model changes.
Local Partner Proves Vital During Crisis
Having a local packaging partner when launching a brand-new range of products is always a huge advantage, but this has become even more important during the COVID-19 crisis. Staying local has allowed the company to avoid disruptions to the supply chain and made communication much easier.
“Not only does using a UK-based company for my packaging mean that delivery is fast and efficient, but I have also felt extra reassured during this critical time because there won’t be any issues with overseas shipping or unexpected delays in production,” says Olly. “And of course, the whole process is also so much more environmentally friendly.”
However, the pandemic has had some effect on sales, of course, particularly in the travel market, but says Olly, “Luckily we have been able to subsidise loss of sales in travel with an incredibly huge surge online. And now, with our new product ranges, we could not be in a stronger position.”
Since its foundation in the UK in 2019, the ePac concept has been proven time and time again, as evidenced by the company’s rapid expansion. Olly’s is a classic example of how the ePac business model continues to deliver exceptional packaging for brands of all sizes.
Jason Short, Area Sales Specialist at ePac UK Silverstone, worked closely with Olly on the project. “We offer the most flexible solution for small to medium brands, with lowest minimum orders, best-in-class print quality and faster production than what can be achieved with conventional printing,” Short says, adding, “I know Olly is over the moon with the pouches we produced for his new nut range and I have to say I think they look fantastic.”
Craize Corn snacks are all-natural toasted crisps (or crackers) made from corn. The crisps are similar to “arepas” with a traditional maize, or corn, flavor that has a subtle sweetness that is different from a tortilla. They are as founder Leonardo Cotter describes, “evolved for the American market, and ready to eat as is.”
Cotter’s goal when starting the company was to bring Latin-inspired and ancestral flavors to consumers in the United States. Cotter describes that most brands launching ethnic products were doing so in ethnic-specific aisles in stores, and in confusing packaging. But Cotter aimed to change all that with his Craize Corn packaging.
“Most ethnic food products today are not in friendly aisles in the supermarket, most are in regional aisles. And some have very ethnic packaging and are even in a different language. It doesn’t pull customers in to try it when they don’t know what the product is. I saw an opportunity to bring to the U.S. flavors from different origins with clear branding, and clear communication in the main aisles to the regular consumer,” says Cotter.
Cotter originally started the company in Venezuela and then in May 2017, only a few years later, launched the brand in Miami, FL. Today the snack line is sold in Canada, Florida, Texas, New York, and several states in the Northeast. The brand is available online at the company website, as well as on Amazon. Once the brand launches in Whole Foods stores this spring, consumers will be able to find Craize in more areas across the U.S., including the Midwest.
Finding the Right Package
When Cotter first launched Craize Corn in the U.S., he was packaging the snacks in rigid plastic containers that held the crackers stacked one on top of each other. But he soon noticed that many of the crackers on the bottom of the container were breaking from the weight of the crackers on top. Cotter knew that he had to fix this packaging problem and began to look into packaging his crisps in pouches.
“Pouches are the most convenient package style… another reason we moved to flexible was to change our proposition value by using a more sustainable package,” says Cotter.
Not stopping at merely finding the right pouch supplier, Cotter began reading up on the differences between flexographic and digital printing and was interested in how digital printing could help a small brand like his grow. He quickly concluded that finding a digital printer was paramount to his success. Luckily, ePac just happened to be opening its Miami office close by. The two companies began working together in May 2019 to create the new pouch that would allow Craize Corn to go from a regional brand to a national success.
Cotter explains that the new pouch’s high-end looks and crisp graphics are more appealing to consumers. Each flavor features a unique design with different images representing delicious recipe opportunities.
But the really important thing about the new packaging? The crisps were no longer breaking.
“With the flexible pouches, there is no more breakage; it’s a better package and it fits our product better. And now we have better branding. We have had amazing feedback from our distributors and customers,” says Cotter.Today the Craize product line is packaged in stand-up, resealable pouches from ePac that use a matte film and a simple design to showcase each flavor. There are six flavors in all and each is available in the traditional 4-ounce bag, as well as in 1.5-ounce sample bags.
Since the package overhaul, Craize has seen some impressive growth and has received a lot of positive feedback about the new look and feel of the matte stand-up pouches. Cotter has no doubt that a large part of the sales growth is due to the new packaging.
“Rigid was fine for our local business in the beginning, but not more than that. If we couldn’t have grown our packaging, we couldn’t have moved forward. I’m confident about that,” says Cotter.
What began as a single-man company is now a team of 25 employees, and it’s only growing from there. Cotter says the brand has lots of plans to develop more flavors from different regions of the world. The brand is also planning new products and a new marketing plan to further the Craize name.
ePac’s unique digital printing platform has allowed the brand to recreate their packaging over time, with manageable quantities. Thanks to digital printing, if they needed to make any changes to the design, flavors, and graphics they were free to do so at any stage in the process.
“Digital printing is great for us as a start-up. As we worked to make the package more professional, we didn’t have to carry a lot of stock. And we can make changes easily. Also, you only order what you need to order, which is important when you have product with different flavors and different designs,” says Cotter.
Craize Corn is exploring the various opportunities digital printing is allowing the brand, including variable data printing (VDP), which is a form of digital printing that uses information from a database or external file. With VDP, elements such as text, graphics, and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process.
“You definitely don’t have to stick with one single artwork. We have more opportunities to create various designs and images. We can even create different photos on each bag, representing new ideas with different packaging for the same product! It’s a very cool opportunity that we are hoping to take advantage of in the future,” says Cotter.
Are you ready to explore how digital printing differs from traditional printing methods? Ready to launch or re-launch your brand in custom pouches without committing to a large order? Call us today to see how we can help.
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 MattCzarnecki, 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:
Healthcare workers can text Verb and receive free bars, no strings attached.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.