John Garrett, CEO of Enertia Trail Foods, contacted SNEWSÂ® a few weeks ago to let us know that one of his biggest competitors had redesigned its single-portion packaging to duplicate Enertia's original design, one the company had been using since its launch in 1999.
Naturally, we asked him if his packaging was trademarked or protected in any way, assuming of course, that it wasn't. We were correct, which leaves Garrett little room to respond, other than get angry (which he didn't) or decide to update his company's own packaging to stay ahead of imitation (which he did).
"Neither our unique re-sealable trail pouch design nor our simple, straightforward labeling has ever been modified since we started in 1999. But now with at least one outdoor food company picking up our original pouch concept and because of a greater emphasis on vendor package appearance standards, we realized it was finally time to update our look and feel," Garrett told us.
Since day one, Enertia vacuum seals its 4-ounce, single-portion, dehydrated meals in heavy-duty, FDA food rated, stand-up, waterproof, barrier pouches. The packages are clear and about the size of a fist, with re-sealable tops and water measurement marks down the side at 8, 12 and 16 ounces. The pouches can be used as a bowl by cuffing the top, and also work well for packing out trash. Labeling has been, well, simple, amounting to little more than a basic paper label inserted into the package prior to vacuum sealing.
"We're upscaling a bit," said Garrett. "Our new bag has all of the same fantastic features of our original design, except it is now printed in a sharp, 4-color process, with a clear water measurement bar on the right hand side," he said. "We also shortened the package, due to trail-user input, so that spoons can more easily get to the bottom.
"With the redesign, we are also introducing a new logo that pops. Everything we have done meets or exceeds vendor package requirements," added Garrett.
And removing those barriers to gaining significant shelf-space in the kitchen or food area of outdoor stores will be critical to Enertia's efforts to be part of every store's buying plan, Garrett believes.
"There are 1,500 or more stores out there and we absolutely want to be on every shelf," Garrett said. He told us that currently, Enertia is sold through 240 stores in 44 states.
The new package look and logo will be officially unveiled at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. In addition, the company is developing a number of new menu items this winter to go along with its original Enertia recipes.
SNEWSÂ® View: Enertia has stiff competition -- from the likes of Mountain House, Backpacker's Pantry, Cache Lake Trail Foods, AlpineAire, Richmoor, etc. -- but Garrett is handling the "package copying" allegation the correct way. Always work to stay ahead of the curve and don't get caught looking over your shoulder and grousing about what some other company is knowingly or unknowingly doing to copy your original efforts. Granted, intentionally copying what someone else has created for your own gain doesn't exactly rate very high on the respect scale, but let's face it, everyone gets copied eventually -- even if you manage to stave off the scavengers with the threat of legal action for a while. With the new packaging design, Enertia is stepping out of the shadows of a start-up (if you can call a 6-year-old company a start-up) and stepping into the light of image and marketing. So far, the company has been playing all its cards very well, and it has aligned itself nicely to garner additional grassroots support. JetBoil, for example, is exclusively using Enertia foods for cooking demos since the packaging fits inside the JetBoil pot -- dovetailing nicely with the overall lightweight and compact messaging JetBoil promotes. We have little doubt that Enertia will garner increased shelf placement as a result -- whether or not that amounts to 1,500 stores remains to be seen.