Tuesday, June 19, 2012

THE THRILL OF PACKAGING PROGRESS



This past Friday, a trip to Albany turned into one of those occasional business moments of revelation and deep satisfaction. The trip was a visit to a packaging company, but fabulously not just any packaging company. As preface: I admit to a prejudice against the packaging industry since the early years of the bakery when I sought newer, cooler, packaging ideas that fell on too many deaf ears. Having worked with several packaging companies over 21 years, I can say, unfortunately, there's next to no innovation in that industry, and barely a consciousness of the need to even consider innovation. There are a few large manufacturers of paper goods for the food industry in the entire country, and they are dutifully pre-occupied with their massive corporate accounts [start with McDonald's and you can figure the rest of the list from there]. 

All of which is to say, visiting Ecovative last week was a thrill two decades in the making. This is an inspired company, not so much on the curve, but to my view, creating the curve in its industry. They are literally growing packaging material starting with agricultural waste [below, left] and adding a component of mushrooms to form a revoluitonary biomatter-as-package [below, right]. When use of the package is complete, it completely biodegrades.

I have high hopes that we'll be working with Ecovative on a few projects [two decades worth of ideas ready and waiting for a partner like this feels dreamy]. Once the work process develops a bit more, I'll post again on this. For the moment, I'll say I've always prided City Bakery and Birdbath on innovation we've brought to the baking business, and I believe working with Ecovative will yield as dynamic a bit of innovation as we've been part of for many years.





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