About Our Packaging Switch

We wanted to switch our products over to compostable stand-up pouches. So, in January of 2020 we started receiving compostable pouch samples from  several manufacturers to get things moving along. Our bottling facility (FDA GMP) was wanting to move in that direction with the capability to fill pouches and were letting us be the first to help get their logistics sorted to ultimately allow them to offer the option for everyone they work with as well.

The pandemic hit a month later and the entire pouch set up had to be put on hold. During the middle of 2020 and up until now the ordering of our packaging materials (our plastic bottles) became more difficult. Lead times started climbing from 4-6 weeks into 8-10 weeks. Toward the end of 2020 trade with China basically stopped, which made many companies here in the US sourcing their packing materials from China have to look elsewhere. They were forced to go to US manufactured packaging materials. The company we were already using for our packaging supplies, in California, got so bombarded that they couldn't keep up with the demand of our bottles too. Lead times for our bottles went up as well and are still currently around 18 weeks out.

18 weeks in business time, when it comes to order management, inventory, cash flow, and general logistics is extremely difficult to deal with. For example, this year (2021) we would typically be at least on our 3rd batch of Superfoods by now (July), but we've only been able to do one batch so far. In January of this year we started a batch of Superfoods with all the moving parts involved and setbacks that we didn't even end up receiving it for customer shipping until May. We've had to lay low a bit on trying to promote and grow. The inventory we've been able to get has pretty much been dedicated to our amazing subscribers and we can't have them running out!

Putting the pouch project on hold at the beginning of the pandemic eventually got started up again once the packaging supply chain issue became a reality. Pouches became a good workaround for the lack of plastic bottles. The batch that we got started in January was set for bottles again, but now our next batch coming up and all of the products moving forward will be in pouches.

In the time the pouch project originally got put on hold and up until now we've learned a lot more about packaging and the packaging material marketing and how it can be deceptive. So in a way the holdup was a good thing. If we had dove right in and went straight to compostable pouches, without more researching, you would likely have received product that would've gone bad after a couple of months vs what the real expiration date is (~24 months). We've learned there is no compostable packaging material on the market that lasts longer than a couple of months for food grade ingredients. Although many companies market their compostable packaging lasting up to 24 months. To get those kind of numbers they test their compost pouches in the most pristine environment ideal for the pouch material but without any ingredients in them.

We've reached out to several companies for sourcing and one company had brought to our attention that what we were using them for (food) would not allow the pouch material to last longer than a couple months, which could then make the product degrade much sooner. It was quite a letdown. A majority of them are not able to be composted in your backyard compost pile either. They need to be sent off to a special composting facility to be heated up for composting. This was another sort of deceptive let down. We also noticed they ripped easily.

Standard minimums for printing directly onto compostable pouches are around 10,000 units. The good news is if a company is big enough and able to go through 10,000 units in a month or two then it would allow a few more months for the product itself to be used before the material degrades. In that situation then it's feasible to go the compostable route, but still not something we were willing and able to risk. 

So plastic bottle packaging is shot. Lead times of 18 weeks is too difficult to manage and the compostable option isn't realistic for our products. We had to find an option that would work for us and our customers. We have moved to 'Post-Consumer Recycled' plastic (PCR) material. From now until the end of the year we'll be transitioning our products into PCR plastic standup resealable pouches. Any new products moving forward will be going into PCR pouches as well.

Why are the algae oil capsules moving out of glass jars you might ask? Glass packaging is in the same situation as plastic bottles with some sizes of glass jars with no lead times available. Using the glass "milk man" style refilling system, by using the same jar locally, is the most sustainable, but absolutely not feasible for us. As soon as glass becomes a one time use it must be recycled by a melt down process and remade into other jars. That process actually takes twice as much energy consumption as remaking plastic bottles. All the new things we've learned and considered about this topic over the year left us with our best option, using the PCR pouches. Our honey will be the only product that remains in a glass jar (you can't really get away with putting honey in a pouch).

We're on contact lists with several compostable pouch companies and if the innovation comes along to suit our unique situations then we'll make the switch. We're not expecting that to be any time soon though. We hope this information gives you a clear understanding of why our brand and products made the switch to standup pouches. 

Thanks for all of your support,
- RAWr! Life.