Spotting a problem and solving it through innovation is one of Aaron Siwoku’s many strengths. The former tech entrepreneur founded health nutrition brand The Honest Earth to develop next-generation plant-based protein powders when he couldn’t find a satisfying alternative to whey protein.
Wanting to bring the new products to market in high-quality packaging that matched his brand standards and sustainability goals, Aaron has partnered with flexible packaging specialist ePac UK Silverstone.
Room for improvement
As a multi-sports athlete, Aaron has come across many types of nutritional supplements, and he has been using plant-based protein powders before and after workouts for over 10 years. His dream was to create his own range of products completely free of dairy and soy that didn’t contain any artificial additives or preservatives, but instead included other natural ingredients that would supplement the plant protein.
“Athletes and other people with active lifestyles are becoming more aware of the benefits of reducing or eliminating dairy, and they are realizing how that translates into greater feelings of wellbeing and health,” he says.
While there were already products on the market with those same attributes, none really hit the spot. Aaron wanted to offer a more sophisticated and better-tasting alternative to help optimize the benefits to the human body and reach higher workout and lifestyle goals.
He says, “Since I started to fuel my body with plant protein instead of whey, I have found some ‘ok’ plant protein powders out there, but I have always felt there was room for improvement. Our new plant-based performance protein has less than 10 ingredients and is probably the first of its kind that doesn’t taste like sand mixed with water!”
Premium packaging for premium product
Having teamed up with his sister to found The Honest Earth, Aaron set about creating his advanced formula, plant-based protein powders. To partly finance the venture and garner support, he set up a crowd-funding campaign on the Kickstarter platform. This was a great success raising over $10,000 and the company launched in May 2020.
“Having spent nine months researching, creating, sampling and testing this formula, it was super exciting to finally launch the company and get this new product into people’s hands,” says Aaron.
The result of all the hard work is a high-quality blend of golden pea protein isolate that contains all nine amino acids with added digestive enzymes and a black pepper extract, called Bioperine, for easy digestion and absorption. The powder has great mixability and comes in three delicious flavors – Raw Cacao, Vanilla Coconut and Just Natural.
As the idea slowly became reality, thoughts naturally turned to branding and packaging. Aaron already knew that he needed to take advantage of digital print technology to best achieve his vision, remain agile and create maximum impact.
“We needed short lead times, but high-quality packaging. Our Honest Earth plant-based protein formula is a premium product and the packaging needed to reflect that,” explains Aaron.
Digital print production does the job
ePac UK Silverstone is a full-service provider that works with brands of all sizes. The company delivers flexible packaging products such as high-quality roll stock and pouches printed on its HP Indigo 20000 digital presses and converted using class-leading finishing equipment.
The company has a special affinity with start-ups and excels at helping them get to market fast with premium packaging delivered in just 10–15 business days, once artwork has been approved. The mix of low minimum orders, no printing plates costs and the ability to print multiple SKUs in one print run enables even the smallest business to burst onto the market with fantastic looking products that rival those of big global manufacturers.
“I first came across ePac after being let down an overseas supplier,” says Aaron, “and after speaking to Nick, I felt comfortable that the level of care and professionalism at ePac was going to meet my specific requirements.”
Aware of the flexibility digital print could give him, Aaron needed no convincing that he should choose to go down that route. “As a new brand, I knew that we would be adjusting our formula slightly on the first few runs, so we needed a solution that would allow us to change the information on pack without incurring huge costs,” he says.
The protein powder packaging design format chosen for Honest Earth was stand-up pouches. Fully printed, they are ideal for maximizing brand impact and present a truly professional look. And with lots of nutritional information needed to go on the protein powder packaging bags, having the whole surface available for decoration, rather than just a small label, is another big plus.
Meeting of minds
ePac has a strong sustainability ethos – its digital printing platform uses less energy, produces less waste and has a smaller carbon footprint than conventional printing technology. Customers can order on-demand, which helps keep obsolete packaging out of the landfill and this really resonated with Aaron: “We are very eco-conscious and I didn’t want to be subjected to huge MOQs and then end up with packaging wasted, so the ability to do smaller runs per flavor profile was a huge plus point when it came to be working with ePac.”
Having the protein powder pouches produced by a UK-based company was another key factor in the choice of supplier. “ePac matched my brand standards, which I felt we could elevate further by not only making our product in the UK, but also by having the packaging made on home soil at ePac’s new Silverstone facility,” he explains.
As he gets ready for launch, Aaron sums up his experience with ePac UK Silverstone: “They have a fantastic team, make quality products and they bend over backwards to stick to lead times. Without a doubt, ePac will be our long-term packaging partner and we explore more opportunities.”
“It has been a privilege to support The Honest Earth and work with Aaron to bring his vision to market,” says Nick Monk, Sales Director UK & Ireland and Managing Partner of ePac UK Silverstone. “This is a great example of how locally-produced digital print combined with our flexible packaging expertise offers the perfect solution for new innovative brands. We look forward to continuing the partnership with Aaron as he continues to grow his company.”