A Versatile Superfood Gets a Packaging Upgrade
FIRSt works with The Healthy Crunch Company to perfect the packaging for a healthy kale snack
In the last few years, kale, with its attractive low calorie, high fiber benefits, has exploded in popularity as a versatile superfood: blended into smoothies or baked until crisp, kale has survived in the competitive food industry long enough to move from food trend to old standby.
The Whole Living Kitchen Inc. (operating as The Healthy Crunch Company) was looking to perfect their own corner of the market, by manufacturing kale foods, including their popular kale chips. In December 2016, The Healthy Crunch Company came to George Brown College’s Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt) to investigate their facility layout and kale chip packaging to find ways of improving their product and its shelf-life.
Julie Bednarski, Founder and President of The Healthy Crunch Company, is no stranger to the importance of having a strong process and a delicious product. She already had one down—the product—and needed a little help perfecting the second. As a chef trained in the competitive culinary landscape of New York City, Julie is also a Registered Dietitian who first heard about FIRSt through her network of food entrepreneurs, who gave her nothing but positive feedback about working with the team.
FIRSt’s Senior Food Scientist, Rob McCurdy, conducted scientific experiments to preserve the chips so they stayed as delicious on the shelf as they were in the factory. His test results informed a facility review and packaging consultation done in partnership with IFAB Engineering Partners and the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). After a final round of testing to ensure the product remained consistent, The Healthy Crunch Company has new options for packaging that will provide a stronger barrier to oxygen and moisture transmission.
Ultimately, this multifaceted approach to product development was the big draw for Julie. “I chose to work with FIRSt was because of the diverse skill set with various trades professional and contacts available that are combined in the project,” she said. “FIRSt offers a start-up food entrepreneur the expertise in a one-stop shop model, versus having to explore each area independently.”