“About three years ago, Sunwarrior was having ... a packaging crisis. Back then, all of our products were packaged in three different packagings and we had feedback from our customers that we needed to consolidate this, so we did, by switching to smaller, square tubs that consumers love … but the one complaint that we kept getting was about the scoop,” Emerson Carnavale, the chief supply chain officer for Sunwarrior, told FoodNavigator-USA.
He explained, “We would get a number of calls to our customer service saying, ‘Hey, my scoop is not in the powder; I need another scoop.’ Then our customer service people would tell them to grab a butter knife or something and dig for it in the powder because the scoop was there somewhere.”
Eventually, consumers would find the scoop, but the “treasure hunt” for it often meant their fingers became dirty from the powder or some of the powder would spill, “which nobody liked,” Carnavale said, adding, “we knew we needed to find a better way of making that scoop accessible for people so they were not digging their fingers into the powder and having the frustration of having to call and ask for scoops when the scoop was actually in there, but just buried under two pounds of protein powder.”
To solve this problem, Sunwarrior teamed with Eric Nichols of International Design Manufacturing to create a scoop that was stored in the lid of the tub – a solution that initially was easier to imagine than to deliver.
Nichols explained to FoodNavigator-USA that the inspiration for a scoop affixed to the lid came from the baby food aisle where measuring cups for infant formula are stored in the lids. However, the scoop added two inches to the top of the container, which took up more space on the store shelf and added to the shipping costs – two side effects that Suwarrior didn’t want.
To address this concern, Nichols said he bought “every single scoop that is out there – from paper scoops to all the different materials to all the different sizes and shapes,” and what he discovered was a slim amount space between the top of most lids and their liners which, while small, could be the perfect place to store a scoop – if he could just make one small enough.
The idea to make the scoop collapsible came to Nichols while he was camping and using a collapsible shower, he said. But to make sure the scoop opened and closed effectively and felt like a real scoop the company needed to create a food-grade resin that was flexible enough to collapse multiple times, but also sturdy enough to click into the rim of the lid for easy storage.
Once the design was finalized the company needed to convince its co-packers that hiding the scoop in the protective liner was a viable option.
“One of our manufacturing facilities was pretty open to the idea, but the others were not. They wanted to be able to see the scoop to ensure that it was there,” Carnavale said. “Basically, we had to tell them to trust the process and trust that we put enough quality procedures in the process that the scoop will be there.”
After more than two years of brainstorming and testing the scoop, the innovation finally hit store shelves this spring and while still early days, consumer response has been positive, Carnavale said.
“On Instagram, one of our consumers said, ‘I have just seen your new scoop. This is a game changer. I need some plant-power now. #NoMoreScoopHunting,’” Carnavale said.
Currently the collapsible, click-in-place scoop technology is exclusive to Sunwarrior products but it will eventually be an option for other manufacturers. To make the most of its exclusivity, Sunwarrior will promote the innovation through a series of videos that both poke fun at the complaints about the old scoop and educate consumers about where to find the new scoop and how to use it.