When GroCycle approached Westbury Packaging in 2012 for a bespoke mail order box, Westbury were delighted to be able to help.
- Bespoke mail order box, integral to the product
- Customers experience zero damage to product
- Product supplied on a just-in time, flexible basis
- Orders have more than quadrupled over 5 years
- Company has gained national television & radio coverage
GroCycle is an award-winning enterprise which has been growing oyster mushrooms on waste coffee grounds in an abandoned office building since 2011. The company is run by Adam Sayner and Eric Jong. “Adam used to grow mushrooms in the traditional way, which involves a lot of work and the sterilisation required is really energy intensive.”, explained Eric. “He experimented with growing mushrooms in used coffee grounds, because the brewing process has already sterilised the grounds. We were both very interested in the idea and the business started to take shape.”
Once the urban farm was established, GroCycle had the idea of selling DIY Grow Kits online which enable anyone to grow their own gourmet mushrooms on their windowsill at home.
Unhappy with their previous supplier, GroCycle approached Westbury Packaging with a brief for a new structural design for their Grow Kit mail order box. The product is ordered by customers online and then delivered to their homes by courier. The oyster mushrooms germinate on the coffee grounds in GroCycle’s building before despatch, so the seeds are ready to grow once customer receives them.
GroCycle needed a box which would accommodate a soil bag containing a mix of coffee, straw and mushroom seed. It needed to be robust enough for mail order and big enough to get a good crop, but light enough not to cost too much to send out. The box design needed to be user-friendly and the material environmentally-friendly.
“We needed a tough grade of cardboard as we don’t put the box in another box to despatch it – so strength was quite important. The box is also treated for cold store. We decided not to have an extra protective (waterproof) layer as this didn’t agree with the ecological stance of the business. ” said Eric Jong.
Ben Tupman, MD of Westbury Packaging commented on the business:
“A brief like this is just the kind of challenge we love to get our teeth into. It is great for Westbury Packaging to have designed and produced an integral part of such an innovative product.”
Finally, in terms of supply, they needed a flexible supplier. The product is very popular as a present so Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas are all busy periods.
“Quantities vary according to the time of year. Last Christmas we ordered 5000 all in one go, whereas our most recent order has been for 1500. We have limited storage here so we order according to demand, which can be little and often.” said Eric.
During the design phase, Westbury Packaging came up with a few different concepts for the structure and design of the box.
“We went through a few iterations of the design – 4 or 5 – with Westbury Packaging to make sure we got what we needed. To their credit they produced quite a few samples. We have been approached by another large packaging supplier, but they couldn’t even supply one sample.” Eric said.
The Grow Kit box is made from 150 double walled material with a special fluting. It has a cut out window which enables the mushrooms to grow out of the front. The customer simply opens the perforated box window and cuts a hole in the grow bag inside, which they then water by spraying the front of the box twice a day. The cardboard is durable and doesn’t disintegrate when the product is sprayed, despite having no waterproof coating. Flaps fall back into place to keep the humidity in.
GroCycle provided Westbury Packaging with a fairly funky print design to have on the boxes with their branding. The packaging is printed 2 colour on their state-of-the-art case maker machine which enables in-line printing, die cutting, multi-point gluing and finishing of the flat boxes.
To meet the demands of variable customer demand, Westbury Packaging are set up to be flexible and produce short or long runs of packaging at relatively short notice. GroCycle’s boxes are sent out flat packed, manufactured and supplied as & when required on a just-in-time basis.
The Grow Kit business has grown steadily year on year. In the first year, GroCycle sold 2000 products and in 2016 it is predicted they will sell between 9-10,000 products.
Eric Jong says that Westbury Packaging helped the business along by simply delivering exactly what’s promised, when it’s promised:
“Working with Westbury Packaging has been incredibly straightforward. It’s a very simple relationship really: we ask for another few boxes and they turn up on time. Our Account Manager is very attentive, we’ve not had to speak to anyone else. All in all we are very pleased.”
GroCycle has been featured on BBC’s The One Show and on BBC Radio 4 programmes: The Kitchen Cabinet and Gardener’s Question Time. For more information about the company please visit: www.grocycle.com