Encore Dominates Specialty Foods Market

America has a food-obsessed culture – and that’s a good thing.

A deep-rooted love and appreciation for flavorful, inventive meals and snacks is driving the industry forward and inspiring cuisine-focused entrepreneurs to open up their own businesses and restaurants where they can get creative with their offerings. Specialty food is an especially desired item among U.S. consumers who crave gourmet-style snacks made with fresh, exotic ingredients from around the globe. One company leading in this industry is Encore Foods, the go-to resource for imported goods from the Mediterranean market.

downloadOn this week’s episode of Ditch The Box, host David Marinac sits down with Jeremy Johnson, General Manager and National Sales Manager at Encore Foods, who details his journey with the company and how his team is partnering with trusted suppliers and customers to offer the latest exciting imported food products in the U.S. Encore Foods specializes in providing distributors and food service and retail customers all-natural artisan eats from countries like France, Italy, Spain, and Greece. A family owned business since 2004, Johnson explains his father’s passion for French cooking and language inspired him to begin his foray into offering American consumers the international flavors that are pleasing palates across the waters.

The company prides itself on staying keenly aware of new global food trends and working to find people to fulfill those trends so they can begin distributing them in the American market. Johnson says Encore is the 3rd food company his father founded after spending years selling French cheeses. This particular brand has branched out to offer products like foie gras, escargot, Dijon mustards, truffle oils, caper berries, crostini, and other vibrant ethnic staples that are quickly becoming a key part of American diets. The company sells these packaged products and determines which goods they select by listening to their customers, relying on European suppliers to offer their insights on overseas trends, and visiting trade shows throughout the year to find companies doing exciting new things with their food product lines.

Johnson says word of mouth has been huge in his company’s success, and relying on global partnerships with flexible suppliers has been essential. Finding suppliers who are willing and capable of quickly meeting consumer demand has been an important part of the company’s operations. Because they really trust and build relationships with their customers, everyone has to be on board with their consumers’ demands and feedback on products and retool their product lines accordingly. Johnson stresses how important it is to actually travel to the location where the product is manufactured to see where exactly it’s coming from, how it’s made, and who is making it. This will ensure the quality of the food is never compromised and a brand like Encore Foods has a full understanding of the items they are selling to loyal customers.

Johnson has become a trusted source in sharing his insight on the specialty foods market, appearing in publications like The New York Times, The Gourmet Retailer, and CNBC. He says making himself visible and present at events like the Fancy Food Show has been instrumental in his success, as he’s able to meet new customers, interact with existing customers, and meet and learn from industry leaders under one roof. He feels that Encore Food can really thrive when working with independent owners and operators, as they’re more likely to educate consumers about specialty foods than larger chain retailers. The specialty foods market will only continue to grow and prosper, and building strong, mutually beneficial relationships with trusted partners, customers, and suppliers is the cornerstone of success in this industry.

Mars Chose Flexible Retail Packaging

Most consumers can agree that one of the worst parts about adopting a healthier lifestyle is giving up those sugary treats the sweet tooth begs for.

Fortunately, candy companies are developing new product offerings for calorie-conscious customers. Instead of depriving themselves of their favorite chocolate confections, shoppers can purchase miniature versions of popular candy bars containing fewer calories, sugar, and grams of fat.

Mars, a leading manufacturer of confectioneries and other food products, has introduced new, smaller versions of its popular candy bars in stand up pouches. These new Mars Mix and Twix Mix varieties take the classic rectangular chocolate bar shape and scale it down to small, spherical orbs that can be easily consumed on the go. In fact, Mars has even invested $109 million into its Veghel factory to increase the number of these mini chocolate offerings. Right now, 25 to 30 percent of Mars’ products fall into the mini category, and the company predicts the volume will raise four or five perfect in the next few years.

As this pint-size product really begins to take off, Mars had to decide on a flexible retail packaging option that would keep its mini candies fresh and function well with customers’ active, on-the-go lifestyles.

Candy Pouch


(Image Source: confectionerynews.com)

These particular “mix” candy products are not individually wrapped, so it’s important that the packaging keep the products free from outside contaminants. Stand up pouches are the perfect solution, with layers of protective film that give the chocolate confections a longer shelf life and look great against other candy varieties on retail shelves.

More brands, like Oreo and Chips Ahoy! – produced by Cadbury and Nabisco, respectively – are available in 100-calorie packs for dieting and health-conscious consumers. Oreo has even launched a new version of its cookie, Oreo Thins, to cater to adults who may be looking for “a more sophisticated” version of the treat. Whether brands are serving consumers concerned about their sugar and caloric intake, or those looking for a more “grown up” variety of their favorite sweet treats, choosing high-quality flexible retail packaging will give these products the fresh presentation they deserve.

Stand up pouches are a great solution for mini candies and sweets to prevent products from quickly going stale.

Zip locks on this type of flexible retail packaging are easy to use – by both kids and adults – so the packet can be easily closed and freshness can be locked in. Flexible retail packaging for candy is a much better alternative to traditional glass candy jars that are breakable and take up a lot of space on shelves.

Mini candy offerings should be packaged in a container that reflects the product, and small, pliable pouches are great for keeping overall brand image consistent. Consumers today have a tremendous amount of options at their fingertips, and brands need to make sure they stand out from the crowd. Take a page from Mars’ playbook and choose stand up pouches for your new product offerings to reach today’s active, sophisticated consumer.

“Sweet” Success & New Product Packaging

Ditch The Box | Episode 8.12 |

For 95 years, Fannie May has been one of the most prolific producers of confections, using chocolate candies as an integral part of celebrations around the United States. The company, owned by 1-800 Flowers, is made up of three distinct brands that create a trifecta of sweet treats, putting a modern spin on classic candies that have been purchased across the country for gifts, party favors, and personal snacks. Fannie May is no longer making its mark just with brick-and-mortar stores throughout the U.S. – the brand is experiencing its largest growth through ecommerce, and with this comes a whole new set of challenges, demands, and opportunities for exciting new product launches and marketing strategies.

Joining us on this week’s episode of “Ditch The Box” is Kevin Coen, President of Fannie May Fine Chocolates and Harry London, who gives us the inside scoop on the company’s 95th anniversary celebrations and how it is making customers part of the experience.

Kevin has been highly successful in the retail, wholesale, ecommerce and distribution business with companies such as Lindt Chocolate, Swarovski, and Filene’s. He also collaborates on some projects with sister brands Lindt & Sprungli and Crabtree & Evelyn. This has put Kevin in the perfect position to refresh Fannie May’s offerings by keenly observing competitors, trends, and consumer behavior and introducing innovative new products and practices that make Fannie May one of the most exciting modern candy manufacturers.

Kevin says the company is always testing new flavor combinations and looks for opportunities to offset its branded business with private-label products. In addition to introducing unique treats, the company also focuses on retooling its packaging to become part of the overall customer experience. Kevin explains there are four key behaviors surrounding consumer need: self-consumption, sharing, everyday gift, and seasonal. Each of these intentions helps drive new products and new product packaging by taking into consideration where these behaviors drive customers to go. This determines the distribution point for certain products, which also influences the product packaging.

The company’s special new 95th anniversary new product packaging was built around the sharing and self-consumption consumer behaviors.

The packages put a modern twist on the company’s classic branded tins, offering bold new colors and structural designs that stand up on shelves and show off realistic photos and graphics that appear on the outside of the new lightweight containers. Kevin explains the company conducts a lot of research on consumer purchasing decisions and where the brand needs to position itself in the marketplace before they put the candy packaging out on shelves or online.


The brand wants to set a market instead of following what the market is doing, but they are highly selective about the times in which they do conduct a design overhaul or rebranding. Kevin says it’s all about noticing when and where you can move the brand forward and not pushing the envelope too much because loyal customers will begin questioning your values and identity. People get familiar with the look and feel of a company’s product packaging, and brands only have one shot to make a good impression. New product packaging should be able to attract younger customers with different values and purchasing behaviors while still maintaining the integrity of the brand and the product inside.

Kevin explains retailers like Fannie May must be sensitive to what makes their products compelling, whether it’s the taste, ingredients, freshness, or a combination of all of the above. They must then make sure the right candy packaging protects it. Consumers should feel like the product came right of the production line, and packaging is a key component in maintaining the stability of any perishable goods. Packaging delicate candies offers a more limited set of options because the product must be highly protected from damage or outside contaminants. If the product doesn’t look or taste like the brand promises it does, you’ll lose consumers’ trust.

A product’s quality is sacred to a brand – it’s their equity, and they should never compromise on ingredients or presentation.

So many companies today try to make up stories to make noise in the marketplace, Kevin explains, but Fannie May doesn’t have to. The brand has a legacy of understanding whom they are talking to, selling to, and what channels consumers are making decisions from. Not losing the essence of what the classic brand is all about is important. Fannie May is embarking upon exciting social media and in-store marketing experiences to include customers in its 95th-anniversary celebration, and there’s no doubt its new product packaging has aided in the festivities and is drawing in customers to the company’s delicious confections.

Fruit Industry: A Family Tradition of Success

Ditch The Box | Aug. 5 |

Food companies know the eating habits of today’s consumer are always changing. People are snacking more frequently and searching for healthy foods they can easily consume on the go.

As a result, producers are looking for new ways to prepare and package fresh, organic snacks that are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Stoneridge Orchards is one company finding great success selling natural, GMO-free fruit that is packaged to be carried and consumed on the go. What sets the brand apart from other brands in the fruit industry is its commitment to quality and the wellbeing of its customers. As a family business, the entire Stoneridge Orchards team works to grow and sell the same high level of food they would serve to their loved ones at home.

On this week’s episode of Ditch The Box, host David Marinac talks with Bryce Dorsing, Senior Vice President of Royal Ridge Farms, about his company’s acquisition of Stoneridge Orchards and the ways in which they have evolved from a RoyalRidgeFruitLogofarming business to a leading snack brand. The Washington-based company is built on a foundation of three successful farming generations committed to growing the very best fruit in their state and beyond. The family business has become the largest producer of tart cherries on the West Coast – a feat that helped propel the brand into the frozen and dried fruit industry.

Companies across the country purchase Royal Ridge’s dried fruits for trail mixes, cereals, granola bars, and other on-the-go food products.

As a result of this demand, the company decided to market Stoneridge Orchards as its own consumer brand committed to becoming to most innovative in the dried fruit industry. Dorsing says he and his team wanted to bring their high-quality fruits closer to the consumer by way of retailers like Publix and Whole Foods. Now, the brand’s blueberries, cherries, apples, and other nutritious fruits are regarded by many as the very best out there.

Dorsing says partnerships and acquisitions have been important ways for the company to grow and add on additional product lines. Stoneridge has managed to debut successful Greek yogurt and chocolate-covered fruit snacks through a strong relationship with a business that specializes in this type of flavorful coating. The Stoneridge team comes up with new product ideas that appeal to their target customer and develops unique flavor combinations though the strength of its relationships and partnerships.

Stonridge Orchards Packaging

Partnering with the right packaging supplier, too, has helped Stoneridge quickly get new products out on retail shelves.

The brand recently received GMO certification, requiring the company to refresh its packaging to communicate this achievement to health-conscious consumers. Dorsing says packaging redesigns and attention to detail can help brands like Stoneridge really connect with consumers. He and his team chose flexible retail packaging for its fruit offerings because it best aligned with how customers would use and store the product. A glossy finish helped the brand communicate the high quality of its fruit and stand out on the shelves of retail stores and at trade shows.

Food brands can become leaders in their industry by maintaining a commitment to quality and listening to consumer needs and desires at every stage. Careful attention to detail must be placed from the growing process to the drying phase and finally to packaging the product. Companies today can’t cut corners in any aspect of this process. Delivering a superior product depends on the right relationships, passion for producing a superior product, and close consideration for how it is presented to customers and retailers alike.

Brand Recognition Lessons from BK

There is a trend sweeping the fast food industry, and it’s not just incorporating healthier ingredients into their menu. Rebranding and refreshing with food packaging redesign has become a key focus for many restaurants in the U.S. and beyond.

Some of the largest chains, like McDonald’s and KFC, are testing out new food packaging options to make their products more easily portable and recognizable.

Burger King is the latest fast food giant refreshing the design and graphics of its bags and containers to establish itself as a more uniform brand on a global scale. With more than 14,000 restaurants in over 100 countries around the world, it’s important for brands like Burger King to be easily identifiable no matter where customers travel.

Brand recognition is incredibly important for marketing your food product and building customer loyalty.

Brand Recognition

With myriad options available, customers specifically look for the colors, logos, and graphics they associate with the companies and products they know and trust. Cohesive branding helps companies evolve for a better customer experience. It’s how brands begin building an iconic image that grabs consumers’ attention and keeps them returning to the products they love. Upgrading your food packaging design can be tricky, however, as too much change too quickly can be alarming and off-putting to customers.


Brand Recognition
Burger King’s Packaging

Burger King’s brand refresh can teach other food manufactures important lessons in maintaining the popular designs customers know while fine-tuning its graphic and structural elements to stay current in the 21st century. BK’s new packaging design features natural, handcrafted type with a modern, minimalist color scheme. The new graphics look like they were printed from rubber stamps, giving the bags the same feel as the food packaging one would find in a smaller mom-and-pop shop. Words like “fresh” are incorporated all over this new packaging, clearly communicating to customers that BK is committed to serving quality ingredients. This is a key step in changing people’s perception about fast food as a whole.

Companies can take a cue from Burger King in their packaging designs by focusing on natural materials and simplistic graphics that retain the ability to stand out and catch people’s attention upon first glance. The key is to build that brand recognition, and the first step is choosing food packaging with high-quality structural elements that best serve as the perfect backdrop for your images and logos.

At StandUpPouches.net, we supply flexible retail packaging to a wide range of clients in the food industry who choose these pouches for the strong material options and use of water-based inks. The printing process used for this type of food packaging is more advanced than traditional methods, allowing graphics and colors to really pop.

When refreshing your food packaging to help create a more uniform, cohesive brand, your company shouldn’t go at it alone. To build brand recognition, work with a trusted supplier – and a creative, forward-thinking designer – to help perfect your package and get it in the hands of customers quickly. Food packaging should be considered a key part of your brand’s marketing, and it’s an important way to get your product out to consumers across the globe.

(Image Source: http://www.thedieline.com/)