Nuts for Sustainability- Emerging Packager Stay on Course
Justin Gold’s business mantra is founded with two objectives: formulate all-natural nut butters and produce them in the most sustainable way possible. By sticking to his roots, Justin has flourished and received recognition across the map, from business moguls to nutrition experts, from fitness gurus to package designers to foodies; you may have even seen it featured on “Good Morning America”.
In 2004 Founder and CEO, Justin Gold, began pureeing his own nut butter at home with a simple food processor. It started disappearing from his refrigerator faster than he could make it with the help of his sticky fingered roommates. He used his local farmer’s market as a test market and realized it was time to expand his product.
“I really had no idea how expensive it is to bring a product to market and how long and much it would take to invest in the idea until profitability. And . . . investors don’t invest in ideas, they invest in teams. So I had to bootstrap, launch and demonstrate on a small scale its value, and build a team around it before I could attract professional investors, “says Gold.
The product really took off when Justin’s started to offer individual squeeze packs. They are convenient for people on the go and it also gives customers an opportunity to try the nine different flavors before having to commit to a whole jar.
Natural Packaging Learning Curve
When it came to packaging his product, the process was out of Gold’s natural grind.
“It was trial by fire. Boulder (CO) has a lot of natural food manufacturers. I was able to leverage these local mentors for packaging advice, “says Gold.
Gold sealed the containers sold at the farmer’s market with shrink bands but because of the natural separation, the oil would seep out. He wanted his customers to have confidence that the product quality was safe and reliable so he decided to incorporate an induction seal.
“When I asked my mentors for advice on the best induction sealing equipment, they all used and recognized Enercon as the industry leader.”
Enercon’s local representative brought over a demo unit and we ran a couple tests.
“From day one Enercon provided great support. They were always there to ensure we were running successfully.”
Justin’s Nut Butter installed an Enercon Super Seal™ induction cap sealer with an eject system on its packaging line which is also home to an AEB filler and Sure Cap capper.
The eject system acts as quality control eliminating any bottles with a missing foil. It is located right before the induction sealer and uses a sensor to inspect and detect when a foil is missing in the cap. When the foil is missing, it then ejects it off the line prior to passing under the induction sealer.
The capped container containing the induction foil then passes under an electromagnetic current created by the induction sealer’s sealing head. The foil of the innerseal generates electrical resistance, heating the foil then melting the polymer coating on the innerseal. The heat, coupled with the pressure of the cap causes the seal to bond to the lip of the container, creating an air-tight seal.
“The e-jector is my favorite feature. It kicks out anything with an improper seal, makes the process very hands-off. Enercon’s sealer is very low maintenance which is desirable for any manufacturer. Between fillers, cappers and labelers it was the ONLY plug and play machine at our factory.”
The induction seal eliminated oil seepage from the package. Customers now have assurance the product is still intact when they open it. The hermetic seal also protects the product and extends the shelf life.
Journey towards Sustainability- Proof is in the Packaging & Ingredients
True to Justin’s Nut Butter’s sustainable mantra the company is constantly looking for ways to reduce its impact on the environment. They started packaging their butters in a recyclable PET jar, but wanted to travel closer towards 100% sustainability. In 2012, after a year of development the result was a 16oz, PCR PET jar made from 100% recycled plastic.
Alpha Plastic created the square-shaped container’s mold, ASB developed the PCR material and the jars are purchased from TricorBraun. The product is topped with a 70mm polypropylene cap from Phoenix closures.
“When we switched containers, the transition was seamless on the induction sealer,” says Gold.
To lighten the carbon footprint, the jars are manufactured in the United States, some even produced with wind power. Justin’s sustainable goals are even in the fine print, the ink on the squeeze packs and cartons are made from zero VOC inks.
As for the ingredients the butters are all-natural, most organic, with no added GMOs. The nuts are steam pasteurized instead of being treated with chemicals prior to being pureed. The nuts are grown domestically and the rest of the ingredients are purchased from as many local sources as possible
Next Sustainable Road Trip
As they continue on their sustainable journey the next step is their flexible squeeze packs. “Currently we are trying to find a film with a good balance of bio/petroleum materials as a step towards 100% biodegradable,” says Gold.
As a growing business there are many tempting shortcuts they could have taken, but by sticking to their mantra Justin’s Nut Butter jars now have sealed in sustainability.
“We are passionate about natural foods, nut butter, health and sustainability. We are excited about building products, a company, and corporate culture around our values and to be able to share them with the rest of the world.”