It started off as a classic “there could be a better way” story.
As a health-conscious consumer, Dustin Finkel has always been cognizant of the foods he eats. And while many brands have developed “healthy” chips and snacks, he found that they’re often packed with fillers, bad fats and suspect product messaging on the package.
“I wanted to bring to market a really authentic product that tasted great,” says Finkel, who has a unique, well-rounded background featuring experience in everything from the food and processing industry to investment banking. “The other problem in the health and wellness category is that there are very few things with crunch or texture. So I wanted to bring that into the mix as well.”
From there, Ancient inGRAINed was born. Soon to follow was the startup brand’s first offering, KA-POP! Available in four flavors, KA-POP! is comprised of three simple ingredients: sorghum grain, olive or sunflower oil, and seasoning. Currently, it’s the only 100 percent ancient grain snack on the market.
“Ancient grains are grains that have, for literally over a millennia, never been selectively modified, hybridized or genetically altered in any way,” Finkel explains. “So they’re significantly healthier for your body. We’re constantly breeding food to be sweeter and less nutritious. Ancient grains are just incredibly powerful nutrients, and I wanted something simple.”
Finding the Right Packaging Partner
Once Finkel had the product down, he needed the snack packaging design to convey the right message to the consumer. And as an entrepreneur, he was particularly keen on finding a company that was flexible and could offer a great partnership. After deciding on a flexible bag, then working with a graphic design firm on the package design, Finkel worked with ePac Flexible Packaging. Known for its digital printing, fast turnaround, and specialization in short run flexible packaging, ePac’s technology and service turned out to be the perfect fit.
“What digital printing offers you is that flexibility,” Finkel says. “With traditional printing, there’s plates, significant upfront costs, significant change costs. Any new business will tell you if they’re being honest, you know you’re going to make changes in your packaging, you know things are going to change over the first couple of years.”
Additionally, Finkel selected digital pouch printing for its comparative faster time-to-production versus other printing technologies. Runs that would take up to eight weeks on a traditional press were able to be completed in two to three weeks with ePac digital printing.
As Finkel also was quick to find out, ePac packaging offered more than just digital printing flexible packaging expertise. It also offered a true partnership.
“I’ve had four productions thus far, three of which have been fire drills,” Finkel says. “And they’ve worked with me every step of the way, squeezing me into the schedule, working through issues that we’ve uncovered, working through logistical challenges, being there to support my needs even though in the grand scheme of things I’m probably a small fish to them. They see the partnership potential and they’re just great to work with. They add onto the partnership aspect, which is especially critical – and their technology is top notch on top of that.”
Finkel wanted a unique package to help drive the KA-POP! product, complete with a matte and gloss print finish. Specifically, he wanted part of the KA-POP! logo and the product information buttons on the bag to stand out from the rest of the package. Though spot gloss would have been used to accomplish this in traditional printing, the ePac team had other ways to accomplish creating the same effect. Finkel says the solution exceeded his expectations and helps deliver the impact he was looking for.
“Working with them to find the right solution that met those needs is another reason why I chose them,” he says.
‘On a Rocket Ship Ride’
Ancient inGRAINed launched in April 2018 and the KA-POP! product began hitting store shelves in May. Finkel says that by November 2018, the product will be available in 600 retailers, in addition to being sold through Amazon.com and on the company website.
“We’re on a rocket ship ride,” he says. “We have a 100 percent retailer acceptance rate. Four out of five people who try our product on demo buy our product. The average rate is less than one of five. Three out of five buy multiples on the demo.
“We’ve seen tremendous success. We continue to get a lot of interest in our product. With every order, as I joke with ePac, it just gets bigger and bigger.”