In September, two companies offering unique products in their respective markets learned they were the winners of a contest held by Silgan Closures, with the award being up to a half-million free closures for their bottles. The winners were Entrinsic Health Solutions of Norwood, MA, with its enterade Advanced Oncology Formula, a medical food formulated to alleviate the gastrointestinal side effects of chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatment, and Magnolia, NJ-based Origin Almond, which produces a first-of-its-kind almond juice that has significantly less sugar, carbs, and calories than other traditional and cold-pressed fruit juices.
According to A.J. Miller, Director of Marketing for Silgan Closures, the Free Closures for a Year (FCFY) contest was initiated to promote Silgan’s stock closure program while giving fledgling brands a hand-up with their ventures. “The stock closure program caters to start-ups because it lets them purchase small/case quantities of closures,” he says. “We came up with FCFY because we recognized that start-ups tend to struggle with credit and the ability to purchase ingredients and packaging as well as pay for a co-packer before they start selling products. The contest is intended to make it a little easier for them.”
The entry requirements for the contest, which ran from Oct. 15, 2018 to April 30, 2019, were straightforward: “Food concepts must (a) be original; (b) must utilize or be able to utilize an existing Silgan closure.” The contest was open both to products in the concept stage as well as those already on the market.
To determine the winners, Silgan used information collected on each concept—there were six in total—through consumer surveys conducted by research partner Datassential. “We reviewed the consumer ratings with a focus on purchase intent and uniqueness,” explains Miller. “Then the panel of experts gave their input. Our panel included people from Datassential, Mintel, Kevin Metz Public Relations, and Silgan marketers. The winners were chosen based on their uniqueness, being on trend, and having the ability to use a Silgan Closures stock closure.”
The products from Entrinsic and Origin Almond were already commercial, but the award of free closures, as well as access to the Datassential results that came as part of the award, were deeply appreciated by the companies. Winning the FCFY contest has not only reduced their packaging costs, but it has also given their products greater visibility and has provided them with an opportunity to use consumer survey results to fine-tune their marketing strategies.
A ‘life-changing’ product
A medical food product that Entrinsic CMO Joe Del Regno says has been called "life-changing" by those consumers using it to combat the GI side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, enterade is the culmination of its founders’ dedication to finding a solution to the tragic numbers of deaths resulting from diarrhea and dysentery each year. “Something most people don’t realize is that every minute one child under the age of five dies from diarrhea around the world,” shares Del Regno.
Originating from India, Entrinsic Founder Dr. Sadasivan Vidyasagar saw firsthand the extent and seriousness of dehydration and as a result committed himself to researching and supporting healthy digestive function and hydration. Dr. Vidyasagar’s journey took him to Yale, where he worked with a leading GI expert. Their research led to a $40 million grant from NASA to work on the BioShield 4 Mission to Mars Project to study and address the adverse GI effects resulting from ionizing radiation during long-duration space travel.
“During their work, they made a profound discovery that has far-reaching implications,” shares Del Regno. “What they discovered was the ability to use combinations of functional elemental amino acids to treat disease. It was mission accomplished for deep space radiation countermeasures. But then Dr. Vidyasagar had an epiphany: If this formula could help repair GI damage from deep space radiation, could it help cancer patients whose GI tracks are decimated from cancer treatment, radiation, and chemotherapy? From there, enterade was born and with it, Entrinsic Health Solutions.”
Enterade uses a proprietary Amino Acid-Coupled Transport Technology (A2CT) and is recommended for those suffering from occasional diarrhea, cramping, dehydration, and nausea; patients undergoing treatment for cancer; and those diagnosed with conditions such as IBD (Crohn’s and colitis), IBS, celiac, and other GI issues. Entrinsic is also working on an amino acid-based formulations to address up to 2,500 other serious disease states.
The product comes in a liquid format in an 8-oz stock PET bottle selected specifically to withstand hot-fill temperatures up to 185°F. Amcor provides the bottle, which is topped by a 38-mm clear polypropylene closure from Silgan, also chosen to meet hot-fill requirements as well as provide tamper-evidence. enterade is manufactured and packaged by co-packer Alternative Laboratories, LLC in Naples, FL.
At the time Entrinsic entered the contest in April 2019, its product had already been on the market since 2016, with national sales and distribution by Nestlé Health Sciences. The product is also available on Entrinsic’s site, enterade.com, and on Amazon. From the start, the bottle for enterade used a Silgan closure, so the award of 500,000 closures will be a continuation of its existing packaging.
Regarding the Datassential report, Del Regno says the information confirmed some of the things Entrinsic had already uncovered through its own consumer research. In particular, it confirmed that consumers believe “if a product like this did what it says it can do, it would be very helpful to people, and they’d be very interested in it,” he shares. “It kind of confirmed that market potential.”
Now commercial for several years, real users of the product have found that it does indeed do what it says it will do. “The response is overwhelming, frankly,” says Del Regno. “The side effects of cancer can be so bad that some people choose to discontinue treatment. enterade really has the power to give cancer patients back their life.”
Del Regno adds that Entrinsic is very appreciative of the award given by Silgan: “We’re very grateful because every opportunity like this is a chance for people in need of the product to learn about it.”
Innovation results in juice without the sugar
The second winner of Silgan’s FCFY competition is also a product born out of a firsthand experience with health concerns. Founder and “Chief Almond Presser” of Origin Almond, Jake Delon, says that as a first-generation immigrant, he was surrounded as a child with foods loaded with sugar and high carbs. “As part of an ethnic family, I grew up with a lot of sugary drinks and high-carb foods in the house. So it’s no surprise that I suffered from childhood obesity,” he says. “I brought that habit of having a lot of sugary foods in the house all the way into adulthood. But, I grew out of it and adapted to a healthier lifestyle.”
Ironically, Delon then found himself working as a marketing professional for major brand owners producing sugary and high-fat snacks. “I love marketing, but I felt a bit guilty because the foods I was marketing were the same ones that caused a lot of my childhood obesity,” he says. “So I decided to take the plunge and create something that was healthy yet actually delicious, to give back to society.”
The resulting product, which took 18 months and nine iterations to develop, is a refreshing, cold-pressed juice made from almonds. Given that its main ingredient is almonds, rather than “sugary crud,” as Delon puts it, “you swap all the sugars and carbs associated with fruit juice, and you replace them with good things like protein and good fats that come from almonds,” he says.
Delon adds that Origin Almond is the first mass-produced and mass-marketed cold-pressed almond juice on the market, due to the fact that the innovative technology used to create the beverage is very challenging.
The company was formed in 2017, but the brand existed as an in-market concept test for the first year and a half. Explains Delon, Origin Almond began with a version of the product in a handful of stores and learned where it “failed.” From that knowledge, it improved upon the product, tested it again, made changes again, and continued that process seven more times until the company was happy with the result. “This allowed us to create a highly evolved product in time for the official launch in February of this year,” he says.
When Delon entered the FCFY competition in early 2019, Origin Almond was far along in the package development process. For its bottle, it chose a 12-oz PET container from Merrimack Valley Plastics that was selected for its compatibility with High Pressure Processing. The company also looked at the sizes of bottles used in the category, and those that were most popular. Lastly—as with any start-up, Delon says—it came down to pricing. “We looked at which of the HPP-compliant and size-specific bottles were the lowest cost yet had the best quality, and we landed with the bottle we’re using now,” he explains.
The selection criteria for the cap were similar to that for the bottle, e.g., HPP-compatible, but it also needed to be available in Origin Almond’s distinct yellow brand color. They found what they were looking for in Silgan’s 38-mm DBJ closure made from high-density polyethylene.
While information on the company handling the co-packing of Origin Almond’s products is proprietary, Delon shares that Dora’s Naturals in South Hackensack, NJ, provides the High Pressure Processing that gives the almond juice its 75-day shelf life.
In marketing the Origin Almond line of four flavor varieties, Delon says the consumer data provided by Silgan was invaluable. One consistent point the company saw in the results was that consumers were intrigued by the concept of almond juice, but their number one question was, “What does it taste like?” From this insight, the company made changes to its packaging graphics to include visual food clues, including images of lemons, limes, ginger, coconuts, and pineapple, in addition to almonds, to give consumers a better understanding of the products’ taste. “That was a big help to us to get that validation that that’s what consumers are looking for when they first interact with our products,” confirms Delon.
Second edition of contest running now
In announcing the news on the winners of Silgan Closures’ first Free Closures for a Year competition, Miller said, “We congratulate enterade and Origin Almond for their outstanding submissions and would like to commend all entries in this past year’s contest. The team was impressed by all concepts, and determining the final winning entries was very challenging. We encourage all entries to re-enter in this year’s competition, set to run until March 2020.”
The current edition of the competition opened Sept. 1, 2019, and companies can submit entries until March 30, 2019. Silgan’s stock closure selection includes plastic, steel, and aluminum closures in a range of colors and sizes for processes that include cold fill, aseptic, Extended Shelf Life (ESL), HPP, hot-fill, and pasteurization. For contest rules, regulations, and the entry form, visit the website here.