CASE STUDY: West Shore Foods LLC

Digital Printing Gets New Products to Market Quickly

West Shore Foods, LLC is a food technology company that specializes in creating natural, minimal-ingredient, dried snacks. One of the owners is J. Hugh Wiebe, a serial entrepreneur who founded Brookside Chocolates. With a strong focus on innovation, West Shore Foods is also a co-manufacturer that assists consumer packaged goods companies in bringing their ideas into fruition. West Shore handles the research and development of these types of products, and all of the production, with the partnership of ePac. West Shore has many different technologies under one roof and with their partnership with ePac, can package various shelf-stable, limited-ingredient foods for club, convenience, specialty and big box stores. Part of West Shores’ goal is to constantly innovate and help bring new snack innovations to market quickly, for CPGs both big and small.

The Challenge and the Solution

The challenge for West Shore, in the beginning, was finding a supplier that could accommodate small orders and fast turnaround. Because once a new product has been created, the key is getting the product to market quickly.

“In the snack food industry, there is a lot of competition. The success of new products all comes down to who can get to market first. ePac specializes in fast turnaround, which is why we choose to partner with them each time to bring innovation to market quickly,” says Trevor Parrick, Director of Technical Sales & Services for West Shore.

None of what West Shore produces could be possible without their partnership with ePac. They started working with ePac only months after the company opened in 2016. At the time, West Shore was receiving typical quotes with 8-12-week delivery, while ePac could accommodate orders in 5 days due to their unique service delivery platform using the latest in digital printing.

The fast turnaround helps West Shore create sample packs and various package styles for A/B testing, as part of R&D to determine a package’s success rate. Waiting for a large run order in 12 weeks’ time wasn’t an option.

“Sometimes we have multiple SKUs under various brand families and we want to conduct a market test to see which package works best. Through ePac’s short run fulfillment, there is much less cost associated with backstock, parts and other wasted materials. We can run 2,000 instead of 20,000 and conduct A/B testing quickly and efficiently,” says Parrick.

The Power of the Right Partner

Packaging plays a huge role in product development. For West Shore, it is especially important when discussing moisture & oxygen barriers for shelf stable foods. ePac recommended specific films to use as a solution to some of the company’s initial challenges in the dried snack space, and they have performed perfectly, keeping the contents dry and fresh.

What makes ePac such an innovative company is that it uses digital printing instead of traditional printing techniques like flexographic or rotogravure. With these, there’s the up-front cost of the plates and dyes for every package format and design. With digital printing, all of that is avoided.

“For product testing, which we do a lot of, ePac and digital printing is the perfect marriage. There is no waste, and it helps with just-in-time inventory management,” says Parrick.

Also, with digital printing, customers like West Shore can tweak and make changes to the package on demand. They can update the package for a different flavor, promotion, or market very quickly.

“We can change graphics as needed, all with 5-day turnaround. What’s more, every bag or pouch that comes off the rollstock can be customized, a big advantage only possible with digital printing,” says Parrick.

ePac specializes in fulfilling short & medium-run length orders with a fast turnaround. While it may be their specialty, the company is growing, now fulfilling orders for West Shore as large as 150,000 units. These large orders are still cost-competitive and still produced quickly. Initially ePac solved the company’s problem of short turnaround, low order requirements but ePac is also capable of doing larger runs. West Shore only works with ePac for their packaging needs, and is an advocate for the brand, recommending the company to many of the CPGs it works with.

“When you need something to go to market quickly, ePac is the way to go, hands down!” says Parrick.

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