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Bakery Swaps to Compostable Film for Frozen Products

Vikings & Goddesses Pie Company is now packaging its frozen baked products in compostable film packaging, aligning with sustainability values of both the brand and its customers.

Vikings & Goddesses' new packaging features a 'stained glass window' design to minimize ink density and maintain compostability.
Vikings & Goddesses' new packaging features a "stained glass window" design to minimize ink density and maintain compostability.

Vikings & Goddesses Pie Company says it’s leading the charge for sustainability in the freezer aisle with new compostable packaging for its frozen baked products.

According to compostable film supplier Futamura, the Minnesota bakery switched to an industrially compostable film solution sourced from pouch and film converter Elk Packaging, using Futamura’s NatureFlex film as a main component.

“I am pleased to have found a compostable solution to our packaging challenge with our converter partner Elk Packaging,” says Rachel Anderson, owner of Vikings and Goddesses. “Not only is the new solution compostable, it also works technically without the addition of a sticker or liner, that would need to be removed before tossing into the compost bin.”

Details of the new compostable film packaging

Available on three of the bakery’s product SKUs, the new film packaging consists of the NatureFlex high barrier cellulose film layer, laminated to a certified compostable biofilm for a hermetic seal.

The NatureFlex film is BPI and TÜV certified compostable and derived mainly from wood pulp sourced from responsibly managed forests, Futamura’s product site explains.

The biofilm sealant layer, sourced from a North American supplier, is also certified compostable with similar properties to LDPE, says Jean Cloutier, director of sustainability at Elk Packaging.

The resulting package structure has been independently certified compostable in a commercial [industrial] compost setting by BPI, even exceeding the compostable plastics standard of ASTM D6400.

“This package disintegrated 100% within 84 days, which is the timeframe for ASTM D6400,” Cloutier says. “The standard only requires 90% disintegration.”The new packaging exceeds ATSM 6400 compostability standards while remaining durable enough for freezer environments, Cloutier says.The new packaging exceeds ATSM 6400 compostability standards while remaining durable enough for freezer environments, Cloutier says.Futamura

The material strikes a balance of composability without compromise in package integrity, with durability to remain intact from processing to the end consumer’s freezer, stakeholders say.

“Our challenge was to find a film that printed well, allowed for a clear window, and stood up to the harsh freezer environment. Also, it was important to gain BPI certification while having packaging sourced from sustainably managed wood inputs,” says Cloutier. “We are delighted to have found a solution that stands out in a dark and crowded freezer space.”

Though the material switch was a big step for the company, the equipment cost required for the change was relatively small. The company only needed to purchase a heat sealer to accommodate the new film – one just as suitable for traditional film packaging.

Printing and labeling with compostability in mind

The packaging is flexographically printed in three colors per SKU, using a unique “stained glass window” design to use lower ink densities to meet certification guidelines, says Jonathan Motzkin, owner and creative director of Makewell, the design firm behind the update.

The design may be in the name of composability, but it also serve’s the brand’s desired image.

 “From a design perspective, we wanted a lighter look and feel. ‘Less is more’ signals to the consumer that the packaging and the product is more natural and there is nothing to hide,” says Motzkin. “Typically, frozen food packaging is mostly concealed with little use of a see-through window. We chose a different approach and intentionally revealed the full product. The pastries are beautiful and what you see is what you get.”

To inform consumers of the packaging’s sustainability characteristics, a “compostable packaging” label is included along the heat seal. A BPI certification logo is also on the back of each pack, Motzkin says.

Anderson says the new packaging, along with all BPI Certified Compostable items, are accepted in the Ramsey County Organics drop-off and pick-up programs. Additionally, the company will be entering a co-op later this summer, which will create a local drop-off point.

The strategy behind the change

Development for Vikings & Goddesses’ new compostable packaging began in April 2022, driven both by the company’s sustainability values and consumer demand. 

The bakery sells its products at Mill City Farmers Market in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, and farmer’s markets in the area often require all vendors to use compostable products for food service, explains Anderson.

“We thought if we were to make the investment in plates, silverware, etc., we should only offer compostable packaging when we can,” she says. “Our customers are regulars of that farmers market, and the Twin Cities has a vibrant co-op culture. They are extremely environmentally conscious and avoid single-use plastics.”

Additionally, Anderson says compostability has been an attractive product differentiator for retailers to carry the brand’s products.Compostable packaging meets consumer demand and serves as a product differentiator for retailers, Anderson says.Compostable packaging meets consumer demand and serves as a product differentiator for retailers, Anderson says.Futamura

The brand’s sustainable journey didn’t start with this packaging update though. In fact, it went through trial and error with previous compostable packaging before landing on the new compostable film.

After starting in 2020 with plastic bags and parchment paper, Vikings & Goddesses turned to a previous compostable packaging solution about two years ago.

“With other compostable [packaging] products, we were experiencing a lot of waste. Many products are not suitable for long-term use and were brittle and would break from prolonged exposure in the freezer. If they were similar to paper products, they would not be durable and would suffer from water damage,” says Anderson.

Despite the complications of the earlier compostable packaging, the company chose to continue on that path instead of a recyclable material because recyclable options were limited and would have still involved a plastic film.

“We wanted a 100% compostable product,” Anderson says. “It was important to us that our consumer was not responsible for removing a sticker or label or knowing plastic numbers when getting ready to dispose of our packaging. We believe it is on corporations and businesses to lead this shift away from single-use plastics.”

Vikings & Goddesses’ products are currently only available in Minnesota, trough the company’s online shop, brick-and-mortar store, and in specialty food stores like Golden Fig, Wise Acre Eatery, and Eastside Food Co-Op.

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