“The images were sharp, the finish gleamed, and the overall effect was highly professional. We put it side by side with our previous supplier’s sample and it was clear that working with Georgia-Pacific was the way to go. The experience of working with GP Olympia and Hummingbird is a 10 out of 10.”
When Chinese-grown mushroom logs began flooding the U.S. market in recent years, growers were faced with a difficult decision – change their business models or get out of the mushroom market entirely. Top Hat Mushrooms, a third-generation family-owned farm and the largest grower of organic Shiitake mushrooms west of the Mississippi, opted to stay competitive through innovation.
After nearly 30 years of selling only to wholesalers, Top Hat decided to begin marketing directly to retailers. The first order of business was to develop packaging that would convince potential big box retail partners that Top Hat could deliver a quality product that appeals to consumers. In short, they needed a “wow factor,” which is where GP Hummingbird® entered the picture.
Hummingbird’s first project for Top Hat was a mastercase for its 12 oz. clamshell packages. “The digitally printed mastercase samples from Hummingbird were phenomenal,” said Casey Gillette, COO of Top Hat Mushrooms. “The images were sharp, the finish gleamed, and the overall effect was highly professional. We put it side by side with our previous supplier’s sample and it was clear that working with Georgia-Pacific was the way to go.” The mastercase strengthened Top Hat’s pitch to a large retail customer and was a key factor in landing the business.
After the mastercase success, Top Hat switched all its corrugated packaging to GP. The GP Olympia team regularly brings innovative packaging ideas to Top Hat, including new applications for digital print. As a result, the company was one of the first to take advantage of Hummingbird’s ability to print on brown kraft liner, which enabled Top Hat to create a five-pound box with high-impact graphics on a cost-effective substrate.
“The experience of working with GP Olympia and Hummingbird is a 10 out of 10,” Gillette added. “Their customer service is better than any we’ve received in all of our years of business, and the versatility of digital print is great. If we want to make a seasonal packaging change or incorporate new branding elements, that can be implemented quickly and easily.”
Top Hat has also gained several operational benefits by making the move to digital. Hummingbird’s high-resolution capabilities have enabled Top Hat to print bar codes directly on its boxes, eliminating the cost of printing and manually affixing bar code labels to each box. The company also avoids the difficulty of investing in and carrying a large box inventory by ordering smaller quantities and relying on Hummingbird’s short turnaround times to deliver boxes when they are needed.
For this family-owned farm, the future is bright and the future is digital.