Thursday, November 7, 2013

Packaging Chocolate: So many choices, so little time!

Having started and run a chocolate business for the last few years, I can tell you that the hardest part of my job is finding packaging for my products. Maybe if you live in New York, London, U.K. or any other large city, you might be thinking: "Seriously? The hardest part of your job?  There is so much available to choose from!" But I do not live in a large city.  I live in Canada.  On an Island.  In the north.

With a seven-hour drive to Toronto and even longer to Ottawa and Montreal, it is tough to acquire competitively priced packaging, product labels or product ingredients for that matter. With every order, I face a huge shipping cost. And unlike a start-up manufacturer in Toronto, I cannot just pop over to a potential supplier to look at all their cool new chocolate boxes.  Instead, I rely on Google and a variety of other online search methods to find just the right boxes, bags and labels. And sometimes that can take hours, days and even weeks to sort out the best packaging at the right price.

I see the wonderful articles about cacao bean husks being used to make paper for packaging...in England!  And I wonder how I can get access to these new technologies inexpensively. Since my business is small, I do not have the buying power to purchase packaging at great prices.  So many times I have been quoted $2 for a label that is supposed to go on a product that has a retail price of $2. What is up with that?

But despite the challenges that I have faced, I am learning more and more with each passing year. Now I want to share some of my findings with other chocolaty Canadian and American start-ups that may be in the same boat. So below is a list of a few wonderful sites that I have discovered along the way.  If you are just starting out, and need to buy inexpensive labels and packaging, here are a few starting points:

  • Uline - with rapid shipping, great low prices, small order quantities, and so many options with product packaging that is certified as safe for food contact, www.Uline.ca is a great starting place for a small business.  They also have several types of sealers and shrink wrap.  What's more, someone always answers the phone within seconds any time you have a question (and believe me, I have had many, many questions!) and they are helpful and pleasant every time. www.uline.ca

  • Luv2pak.com is a great site with some fresh food packaging products, like cake and cupcake boxes, and also ribbons, bows, bags and more. Once an order is placed, it arrives here on my island within just a few days.  www.luv2pak.com

  • Greenshift.ca is a great Canadian business that brings together all the recycled, biodegradable and good-for-the-environment products for food producers and food service. Although you won't find boxes for confections, you will find some great containers to package pastries in, and they look like clear plastic but are actually biodegradable. They also have gloves, paper towels and anything else you need to green your food prep area. www.greenshift.ca

  • Nashville Wraps - although I have not used this business yet, I do intend to.  They are American but do ship to Canada and they have a huge selection of confection and chocolate boxes with the candy trays to match! Also, they have seasonal boxes, like heart-shaped chocolate boxes for Valentine's Day. Check it out: www.nashvillewraps.com 

This was a poster I made quickly
and easily on VistaPrint
- at a great price too!
  • VistaPrint  - Product labels are a fraction of the cost and really easy to make.  Hire a designer to create them or easily use a template to create wonderful, stickable labels.  Also, you can inexpensively promote your business with matching product posters, post-cards, business cards, banners and more. And everything is saved so you can easily print more labels when you sell out!  www.vistaprint.ca

So now that my new products are packaged, I can finally start to promote them! Eventually they will end up on my website too: www.ultimatelychocolate.com (Now THAT was blatant promotion!).

If you have found any other food and chocolate packaging sites that have been helpful to you, feel free to share in the comments below!

66 comments:

  1. Hi Lisabeth, my name is Ryan Harris. I have very recently started a small chocolate business in West Lorne Ontario, just southwest of London. My business is called Century Chocolates. I only have a facebook site right now, but it's a start. Search for me if you like on facebook! Even close to the Toronto area, it can be difficult. I do have some suppliers, but the boxes I am looking at for Christmas are mediocre at best, from a company called Modpac. My wife and I have found some beautiful boxes on Alibaba.com, based out of China, but the export costs literally double the cost of the boxes. I am doing a Christmas show which was host to 10000 people last year over 4 days, so I would like my presentation to be excellent. I just wanted to say hello to a fellow chocolatemaker! I am not an official chocolatier or patissier, but studied under a gentleman from France for almost 4 years and learned a number of things. My signature product is flavoured caramels...they are sort of like truffles, but instead of ganache which has a very limited shelf life, I use caramel. Anyway, I babble. I will check out some of your suggested sites. Thanks for posting your blog!
    Ryan

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