She explained most bags that lay flat, like those used for frozen peas or corn, stack on top of each other on the shelf in such a way that there is only a skinny side strip that faces consumers and it barely has space for a product name, let alone eye-catching logos and branding.
Boxes take care of that problem, but once the bags inside are open the food is exposed to the cold and could become freezer burned, Peress said. Or the left over contents could fall out if the box tabs are not securely refastened.
All of these problems are solved with standup, reclosable pouches, like the ones Peress uses for her Swapples – an all-vegetable take on frozen waffles.
Peress explained that her pouches have a large front display panel and they are uncharacteristically black, which helps them pop on the shelf.
The packaging is not the only innovated part of Swapples – the product itself offers a new meal solution across categories.
Unlike many frozen waffles, Swapples are not made with flour and sugar, which can be high in calories and low in nutrients, Peress said. Rather, they “swap the junk” for real vegetables, flavorful spices and oils, she said.
The frozen food also is unique in that it eschews the cloying sweetness of many frozen waffles in favor of savory flavors – placing it smack on trend for the rising sugar reduction revolution.
Swapples currently come in Spicy Spinach, which gets its kick from jalapenos, Sweet Potato Curry, Sundried Tomato and Everything Bagel.
Because Swapples have no added sugar and are savory, they easily break out of the breakfast mold and can be used in lunches, dinners and snacks.
Peress says she uses Swapples as a gluten-free replacement for bread in sandwiches. They also double as flatbread to replace pita for scooping hummus and are great as a base for fruit for dessert, she said.
Swapples also are soy- and nut-free, vegan and paleo – tying them into many other growing trends.
The inspiration for SWAP
Peress said she was inspired to make Swapples when she adopted the paleo diet to manage her auto-immune disorder, but still missed bread.
Even if she was tempted by the memory of fluffy and soft bread, Peress said she still didn’t want to eat it because it had little nutritional value.
So, she created veggie-based waffles to use instead.
Peress hopes eventually to create other packaged foods based on the same premise of swapping out less nutritious ingredients for more fruits and vegetables.
But before that she needs to get Swapples off the ground, she acknowledged. She currently is working on distribution in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area and creating her own online store that will ship nationwide.
While only about 2% of money spent on food and beverages currently is exchanged via ecommerce, Peress says the channel is the way of the future because it saves consumers so much time, which is increasingly rare and valuable.
Reflecting on the long road ahead, Peress is excited rather than intimidated. Her high energy and deep passion for the concept are propelling her forward and she said she is excited to be on a path towards something she loves.