The novel idea behind Sauces ’n Love emerged in 1998 as owner and founder Paolo Volpati-Kedra was doing a lot of cooking and entertaining. Being Italian, a big component of his meals was pasta – and with pasta comes sauce. So, he started experimenting with different flavors and was rewarded with very positive feedback from hungry guests. The reaction stirred up something inside him, and he couldn’t stop.
This led to Volpati-Kedra creating a weekly menu and designating a specific sauce for each day of the week. He then distributed this menu door-to-door, thereby creating a sauce delivery service in his Boston, MA neighborhood.
“On the weekends I would walk the neighborhood delivering menus. During the week I would ‘illegally’ cook sauces in my apartment and deliver them. The product had a shelf life of five days and handwritten labels, but people would buy repeatedly and that validated the idea,” says Volpati-Kedra.
But that was only the beginning. By 1999 a business plan was written, funding was lined up, and his brother came to Boston from Italy to help him out. Volpati-Kedra eventually officially leased a commercial space to legitimately manufacture his sauces.
Proper pesto packaging
“It was difficult to find the right packaging supplier,” says Volpati-Kedra, who adds that very few companies were able to supply the unique look and feel he wanted in packaging.
Through industry research, Sauces ’n Love eventually came across Parkway Plastics Inc. (parkwayjars.com) in 2006. Similarly, the plastic jar manufacturer became familiar with Sauces ’n Love after seeing its sauces at Whole Foods. Together, the two companies set about creating the right style of FDA-approved, BPA-free and U.S.-manufactured clarified plastic jars, black caps and liners for Sauces ‘n Love’s line of pestos.
Consisting of three flavors – basil, sun-dried tomatoes and vegan – the companies agreed the pesto line would be contained in 83mm, 6-ounce clarified polypro plastic jars matched with a smooth black cap. They also chose a regular-wall jar with a cap overhang. After testing, and some trial and error, the perfect lining material was introduced to help contain the oil inherent in packaging a pesto sauce.
“Over the years I believe we tried as many as four different heat seal liners before settling on the one we use now,” says Ned Rowan, VP of operations at Parkway Plastics.
The 83mm, 6-ounce clarified regular wall plastic jar allows for the bright color of the product to come through, something that played a very important role for Sauces ’n Love when envisioning the ideal product packaging.
Sauces ’n Love’s packaging process starts with stocking up on jars and caps. That’s followed by injecting the sauce into the jars using piston fillers. The jars are then capped with the lids and induction sealed, labeled and coded.
“The induction liner we use to get a good seal is an aluminum/foam induction liner that adheres to the landing area of the jar through the induction seal process,” says Volpati-Kedra.
This liner provides a more secure seal, making it less likely for product to leak out of the container. That said, the consumer will need to puncture it to open the container, explains Rowan.
Packaging food in jars
Different plastics are good for different types of food. For example, dry products generally work pretty well with polystyrene, such as salt, pepper and other spices like sugar. However, when looking to package products containing moisture, polypropylene is a good choice – especially when it involves oils. Dry products can generally use a simple pressure-sensitive liner. However, oily or liquid products generally require heat induction liners. Other products containing moisture, but do not flow very easily (and are of less risk for spillage), could consider using a foam liner, according to Rowan.
Working directly with a packaging manufacturer has had its benefits for Sauces ’n Love. It enabled to company to do a lot of product testing as well as have direct control of packaging details. Today, the company is distributed nationally and internationally and has grown into a 30,000-square-foot facility with three product lines.
The package continues to play an integral role in meeting Sauces ’n Love’s goal: “To produce safe products for happy customers.”