Selecting the Best Labeler for Your Pet Food

Selecting the Best Packaging and Label Application for Your Pet Food

The pet food industry is expanding at a rapid pace to meet the needs of consumers who want to purchase quality food for their animal. Many individuals consider their pet to be a companion and member of the family, and there are new food, toy, and apparel options that are constantly hitting the market to meet the needs of these individuals.

If your company manufactures pet food, how do you speak to consumers while ensuring your product stands apart from the competition? Here are some of the ways you can select the best packaging and labeling for your cuisine.

Types of Product Packaging

Many pet foods are packaged in containers such as bottles, bags, and pouches. How do you decide which container is the best to use for your product?

1. Bottles

If your brand produces items such as pet vitamins or liquid supplements, bottles are an ideal option for packaging and offer space for label application on the side, top, or wrapped around the bottle. In addition to this, bottles are a convenient and portable option, and also have a secure lid to ensure all of the contents stay in place.

2. Bags

Packaging dog or cat food in a bag is another popular method for storing your product. When creating a label for food packaged in bags, remember to determine the best placement for the label. Will the label be placed near the top or bottom of the package, and on the front or back of the bag? If you are placing the label on the front of the bag make sure that it does not cover up important information such as your logo or the contents of the package.

Another item to evaluate is the difference between vertical and horizontal labels. Vertical placement is best suited for reseal labels while horizontal placement is ideal for front labels. The reseal label is an ideal option for consumers looking to preserve their pet’s food.

3. Stand-up Pouches

When walking through the pet food aisle, it’s clear to see that stand-up pouches are increasing in popularity. Consumers appreciate the convenience of being able to close and reopen their pet food with the assurance that the product is remaining as fresh as possible. This convenient packaging option is popular for a variety of pet foods and treats. One of the benefits of a stand-up pouch is the ability to place a label that can be resealed on this good. This meets the needs of consumers and allows them to maintain freshness for their pet’s food. In addition to this, these pouches offer a convenient option for storage and are designed in a way that helps the product stay upright to minimalize spills.

Disclosing Pet Food Ingredients to Consumers

According to a recent article in Supermarket News, individuals shopping for pet foods are looking for options that are gluten-free and grass-fed. As we become more aware of the foods we consume for ourselves, making sure our pets are eating quality products is important as well. The ingredients contained in pet food are a top priority for many owners, so it is important to make sure your brand’s packaging effectively communicates the product’s nutrients and health benefits.

After determining whether a bottle, bag, or stand-up pouch is the best fit for your product, take some time to think about what information you want to highlight on the label. Your label should mention if an item contains chicken, beef, seafood, or vegetables. In addition to labeling the proteins and vegetables contained in pet food, make sure to emphasize vitamins and minerals included in the cuisine as well as any special dietary features.

The example below from the popular pet food brand Blue Buffalo highlights how their products do not contain artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. If your brand’s pet food lacks artificial ingredients, or contains ingredients that meet dietary needs, make sure to feature this information on the label.

True Blue Promise
Source: Bluebuffalo.com

At the end of the day it is important to keep the needs of your customer in mind. Pets often have a seat at the dinner table and pet parents want to provide their dogs and cats with the best suited and most nutritious options available. Make sure to select a package type and craft a label that speaks to the needs of your target audience.

If you would like to learn more about the best label or labeling machine to use for your pet food product, please contact us today. We are happy to discuss the most ideal option to fit the needs of your business!

The Continued Growth of Single-Serve Food and Beverage Packaging

Last year we wrote a blog post about the rise of single-serve food and beverage packaging, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. More and more food manufacturers are offering individually packaged products to busy consumers as these goods gain increased popularity due to their convenience and the variety of food choices available in single-serve form. In addition to the growth of single-serve foods, single portion beverages have gained popularity as well.

When mentioning single-serve beverages, one of the items that probably comes to mind is the K-Cup®. It has changed the way coffee is consumed. In addition to the K-Cup®, other popular single-serve food and beverage products that have hit shelves include individual containers of cereals, cheese and cracker packs, snack packs, fruit and vegetables with dip, and other bottled drinks such as soda and water.

These options have impacted the labeling industry significantly by changing the way products are packaged and how information is presented on the labels. What are the differences between the packaging on single-serve products when compared to regular product varieties? Let’s examine how the labels, ingredients, and company information are presented in a different manner.

Single-Serve Food and Beverage Packaging and Labels

Single-serve packaging differs from the packaging used for full size product offerings because the information printed on a single-serve item is often describing that particular serving size.

In addition to this, the label and packaging of the product is often designed and printed differently than the label for a standard product. For example, many individual packets of cheese present information such as the name of the brand, the brand’s logo in a different format and size in comparison to a traditional pack of cheese. Items such as the font may be displayed in a different manner. Other foods that follow similar packaging trends include individual servings of fruits or vegetables and snack packs such as mini bags of cookies and crackers.

Individually Packaged Products Highlight Ingredients

Another unique approach to single-serve food packaging for products such as vegetables, snack packs, and crackers, is that these products often highlight unique selling points to consumers on the front. For example, if a product is vegan or gluten free this is often emphasized on the front of the package. If the product has 5 grams of fiber, this may be highlighted on the front of the package as well, because depending on the way the package is designed, the nutrition facts may be presented differently than they would on the full size version of a product.

Single Serve Ritz Cracker Labeles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Ritzcrackers.com

Single-Portion Nutrition Facts Labels

In addition to the way the company’s name, logo, and type of product are portrayed, there are differences in the information included in the nutrition facts label. Single-serve products such as macaroni and cheese often include instructions on the labels as seen below.

This particular container of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner has instructions for consumers to just add water to the product. The label and packaging also provide the time it takes for the product to cook as well as a description about what the product is. This is different from buying a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner because this individual container includes information that would be included on one box.

Single Serve Mac and Cheese Label

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Kraftmacandcheese.com

Due to the condensed size of these packages, the information is presented in a different manner because of the smaller space available for printing information related to the product.

Future of Single-Serve Packaging

As we look ahead to the future of single-serve packaging, we will most likely continue to see an increase in the growth of this industry. Single-serve food packaging offers a convenient option for busy consumers who need to grab a fast snack.

If your company is expanding product offerings to include single-serve foods or beverages, and you have questions about the best labeling system or labels for your business, please feel free to reach out to us for more information!

How Do I Know What Labeler to Use for My Product?

Have you ever been responsible for labeling a product? If you have, you know that it is important to select the right labeler to meet the needs of your product. Whether you are a small business getting started in the industry or you are looking for a new perspective on selecting the best labeler for your needs, there are many variables that need to be considered such as:

  • What type of labeler do I need to use?
  • Will the labeler that I have work?
  • What kind of labels do I need, and am I getting the right one?
  • What label manufacturer should I use?
  • Who has the best price?
  • What will I do with all of these labels if I make the wrong choice?

These questions could go on and on, especially if you have no idea where to start.

Picking the right labeler and label for your product can be very overwhelming and darn right frustrating. There are many labeling machines to choose from, and most label manufactures have a minimum order requirement. If you have never labeled a product before or if you have just had a negative experience, choosing the right equipment for the job can be very difficult.

Here Are Our Suggestions for Picking the Best Labeler to Meet Your Needs
How do I know what labeler/label?

  • Identify your need.
    • What is being labeled? (i.e. snack foods, baked goods, beverages, coffee, etc.)
    • What is the product made of?
      • Application surface and condition, (i.e. plastic, smooth, clean, rigid, etc.)
    • Where on the product do you want the label? (i.e. front, back, top, bottom, etc.)
  • Where in your production line will the labeling process take place?
    • This will help determine the type of labeler and application needed.
    • Knowing the labeler and application you will be using will also help determine label sizes that are available.
  • What is the product’s environment? (i.e. indoors, outdoors, room temperature, freezer, etc.)
    • This answer will help the label manufacturer narrow down what label/adhesive will work.

Additional factors to consider include graphic requirements and volume as these will refine your selection even more. Once you have answered the questions listed above, you can collaborate with your label manufacturer to find the best fit for your business. The questions above should begin too narrow down your options. It is important to share as much information as possible with your supplier in order to ensure you are getting the best label for the job.
If you are new to the food packaging business it is important to consult with an industry expert about selecting the best equipment for your product. Labeling comes with challenges and it is critical to have the right information and equipment prior to starting your project. We have created a resource titled “Labelers and Labels Where to Start” for individuals who are new to the labeling industry to provide information about the various products, surfaces, and label placement options that are available.

EPI Labelers manufactures high quality labelers for packaging and promotional needs. We meet and exceed the demands of our customers, because we know each operation and packaging machine is different and we take the time to listen. So, if you find yourself in a sticky labeling situation EPI Labelers has been supplying durable labeling equipment for over 30 years and ID Technology offers the highest quality labels available. Contact our sales department we will be happy to help take the stress out of labeling your product!

Labeling Law Updates in 2016

2016 Labeling Recap

This year was filled with many changes in the labeling industry. If you keep up with our blog you may have seen our coverage of food allergy labels, GMO labeling, and nutrition facts label changes. With 2017 right around the corner, we have compiled a list of all of the labeling news and updates from this year as a final recap!

Food Allergy Labels

While there were no major changes to food allergy labels in 2016, there was an article published about the confusion often associated with food allergy labels. This article brought to light misconceptions surrounding allergy labels and how to use caution with phrases that speculate about what the product may contain. If you are consuming foods that may have been processed around allergens remember to use caution upon consumption.

GMO Labeling Law Update

There has been a great deal of controversy and news coverage regarding the updates with GMO Labeling Laws. It is often difficult to keep track of the difference between which laws were passed, amended, and overturned. President Obama signed S. 764 into law at the end of July which created a standard for foods made with GMOs and requires labeling of foods made with them. Although the FDA has said GMOs are safe for consumption, many individuals are still skeptical about this ingredient. There is currently a two-year time period allocated to write the standard.

Food Date Labeling Act of 2016

In addition to the labeling changes mentioned above, the Food Date Labeling Act of 2016 also brought new light to the industry. As discussed in the blog post “How Well Do We Understand Food Allergy Labels?”, there is often confusion associated with the language on these labels. In addition to the safety concerns of food label confusion, not understanding the language included also adds to food waste. The Food Date Labeling Act of 2016 aims to clarify the terms on labels that need explanation such as “sell-by,” best-by,” “use-by,” and “best before.” This Act should work to eliminate misunderstanding and help consumers make important decisions about the consumption of their food as well as when these products need to be thrown away.

Nutrition Facts Label Changes

Chances are when you pick up a package one of the first items you examine is the Nutrition Facts label. This label provides important information about the percentage of vitamins and minerals you are consuming. As covered in our blog post “New Changes for the Nutrition Facts Label,” in May it was announced that The White House collaborated with the FDA to modernize the Nutrition Facts label. There are slight changes to the design with information such as Calories increasing in font size and being bolded, and there are also alterations to the nutrient requirements. Vitamins A and C are not required while Vitamin D and potassium will be required.

Sugar Cutbacks in Dietary Guidelines

2016 brought new recommendations in regards to dietary guidelines with suggestions to cut back on sugar consumption, particularly added sugars, and for men and boys to reduce their consumption of foods that contain a great deal of protein. Monitoring food labels to better understand the ingredients you are consuming can help adhere to these standards.

Looking Ahead to 2017

This year was filled with changes regarding labels and the way consumers digest the information contained in them. We will keep our eye on the labeling trends that emerge in 2017 and share any news regarding the impact on consumers and the industry. We wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season and New Year!

How Well Do We Understand Food Allergy Labels?

If you, a family member, or friend has an allergy to foods such as milk, eggs, nuts, or shellfish, you may be familiar with the important process for avoiding the consumption of foods containing these ingredients. While there is an ongoing effort to provide information about any potential allergens foods may contain, there is still confusion associated with food allergy labels.

Food Allergy Label Confusion

CBS News recently wrote an article titled, “The confusing state of food allergy labels,” which discusses research conducted by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The article addresses the gray area with food allergy labels. For example, phrases such as “may contain” or “manufactured on shared equipment” can often be misleading in regards to foods. These phrases don’t specify whether the food definitely contains an ingredient and leaves room for speculation. According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, advisory statements with text such as “may contain” are currently not required by FALCPA.

Those who answered the survey conducted by Dr. Gupta thought the law required precautionary labels such as “may contain” even though the law does not require this terminology. Many of the respondents also thought labels were based on the number of allergens that might be present in a food product; which is also not the case.

How Can We Stay Safe When Consuming Foods?

The study conducted by Dr. Gupta brings the labeling issues that need to be addressed to light. What can we do to make sure individuals with food allergies have all of the information needed to confidently know if they are safe to eat something?

One of the best solutions to this situation is to steer clear of foods that contain any sort of allergen that could trigger a reaction. While this may be difficult, it is a guaranteed way to remain safe when consuming foods. In addition to this, as food manufacturers we can make sure to always label products with allergens and provide as much information as possible about what they may contain and where the foods are processed.

Many adults and children are affected by food allergies and it is important to always use precautions when consuming potential foods with an allergen. If you are a manufacturer, make sure to have the proper labeling equipment and labels to provide consumers with information about what the product contains.

Our labeling equipment is the answer to easy and efficient workflow production for our clients’ industries, which include; snack food, bakery, confectionery, beverage, dairy, coffee, meat and poultry, pet food, frozen food, fabric, textile and general packaging. For a detailed product list and to learn more please visit http://epilabelers.com/.

Visit the EPI Labelers Booth at IBIE 2016

It’s that time again! Every three years the Baking ExpoTM brings together more than 20,000 baking professionals and every segment of the business providing access to the tools, technologies, and resources need to maximize success.

Join us in Las Vegas for IBIE 2016, October 8-11. You can take this opportunity to discover the latest trends and innovations, and connect with and learn from top baking and business professionals. While at the show you can:

  • Discover the latest innovations and new technology.
  • Shop and compare all of your options.
  • Build your knowledge and sharpen your skills.
  • Connect with baking professionals from around the world.

There will be dozens of demonstrations and interactive show features where you can uncover new products and resources, track industry trends, and inspire an idea to benefit your business and improve your overall bottom line.


IBIE 2016

Visit the EPI Labelers Booth!

Come visit EPI Labelers at IBIE, we will be in Booth #3931. Our salesman, engineers, and service techs will all be there to answer any questions you have related to labelers and provide you with a hands on experience! All of our machines are durable and engineered for ease of use and reliability, and are designed to integrate into your specific packaging lines.

 

 

Loose Loop Print/Apply
Loose Loop Print/Apply

We will be featuring several of our top of the line labelers including:

  • **NEW** Loose Loop Print/Apply **NEW**
    Stop by our booth #3931 to find out more about our newest Print and Apply Labeler!
  • Bakery Tamp System
    Our Bakery Labeler is ideal for adding promotional and date labels to baked goods and breads.
  • Core Series Print/Apply
    This labeler can accommodate top and panel labels for items such as barcodes and addresses.
  • C-Wrap System
    This system is designed for labeling clamshell containers.
  • Top & Bottom System
    Our Top & Bottom Labeler is ideal for quick and accurate label placement on all of your packages.
  • Flex-PacTM on a Matrix bag maker
    Our flexible packaging labelers are designed to meet your needs and can accommodate a variety of applications for pouches and bags.

We look forward to seeing you at IBIE and discussing all of your labeling needs!

Labeling: The Psychology Behind the Design

labeling-psychology7

Labels provide detailed information about the ingredients and features of our favorite products. The way the color, font, and logo are portrayed are all factors that help to shape the perception of a certain product or brand, and are sometimes taken for granted by consumers purchasing a product. However, they play an important role in the design of labels and the psychology behind this design.

 

As a company that specializes in providing labeling systems to our clients to fit their needs, we wanted to take an in-depth look at the psychology behind label design and important factors to consider when creating a label. During our research we uncovered the role of various aspects of design such as the appearance, color, and shapes of labels, and how these factors are an important part of consumer purchasing decisions. We want to share this information with you and provide guidance for the best elements to include in your label in order to attract consumers and encourage them to make a purchase. EPI Labelers encourages you to share this infographic on social media and inform other individuals about the various factors that are a part of the psychology behind label design.

A New Twist in the GMO Labeling Law

Several of the nation’s largest food producers, including General Mills, PepsiCo, and Campbell Soup have already begun updating their packaging to comply with Vermont’s new labeling requirements for foods with GMO ingredients. EPI has been following the development of GMO labeling and providing updates over the past few months. Like many others we have wondered if GMO labeling would stand the test of time. We even wrote a blog post about Vermont’s GMO labeling law titled “Will Vermont’s new law, requiring GMO labels, be the trigger that changes the nationwide rules?

As of right now it looks as though Vermont’s labeling requirements will be short lived because at the end of July President Obama signed S. 764 into law. This law overturns existing state labeling laws in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine. It also directs the Secretary of Agriculture to come up with a national labeling standard in the next 2-3 years. The tiny lines of text that some food producers have already gone ahead with could be replaced with something as obscure as a barcode.

GMO

According to Katie Hill, White House spokesperson, “This measure will provide new opportunities for consumers to have access to information about their food.” But will it?

The DARK Act

What is the “DARK Act?”

Some opponents are calling bill S. 764 the DARK Act, “Denying Americans the Right to Know,” because the bill allows GMO labels to come in the form of a QR code or 1-800 number. Who wants to spend hours in the supermarket calling or searching websites on every product in their cart? Plus, the digital divide is real! Many people don’t have smartphones or Internet access leaving many Americans without access to food information because of the labeling system.

The Food and Drug Administration has said GMOs are safe for consumption, but not everyone agrees. And, safe or not, consumers have the right to know what is in their food.

Critics have said the bill would make it hard to find out about GMO ingredients. It has also been said that the bill uses definitions that would shield things from having to be labeled such as high-fructose corn syrup.

What does this bill really mean for food labeling? Only time will tell. We will continue to keep you updated with the new rules as this law develops.

 

Label Confusion and the Impact on Food Waste

If you haven’t read our blog “The Importance of Expiration Dates on Packaging,” you should! Did you know the FDA does not require food firms to place dates on food products? There is no system in place that determines what date to list or even if they need to list a date on the product. Congress is looking to address this issue and clarify the date labeling practices on food packaging with the Food Date Labeling Act of 2016.

label confusion

Food Waste Due to Label Confusion

Congress has found the following information related to label confusion:

  • 90% of individuals in the United States throw out food that is still fresh because of the misunderstanding with “sell-by,” “best-by,” “use-by,” and “best before” dates.
  • 20% of people waste edible food because of the confusion with dates on labels. This accounts for billions of dollars in wasted consumer spending.
  • Two ways to help reduce food waste are to educate consumers and implement standardized date labeling.

When food is wasted it costs everyone money. This includes the consumer and the industry as well. In addition to this, food that is wasted impacts the food supply and misses the chance to feed many households that are in need of food.

How Can Consumers Help?

Consumers are just as responsible for food waste and safety as the food industry is.

One of the ways consumers can help preserve the foods they have purchased is by storing them properly. Storing food at the proper temperature and in the best location will sustain the life of the product and ensure it stays safe to eat.

It is also important to pay attention to the dates on packages. If the product has a use-by date, utilize this information to help determine when to consume the product by or if you should freeze it so you aren’t wasting food and throwing your grocery money away.

Lastly, common sense is an important part of the equation. If the food is growing mold, smells bad, or if the first bite seems off, when in doubt, throw it out!

Best-by and Use-by Dates are Not the Only Problem

Use-by, best-by, and sell-by dates aren’t the only labels you need to monitor on food. In June the U.S. Senate reached a compromise to require food manufacturers to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. This deal happened only a week before Vermont’s law to require GMO food labeling. If this is voted on, passed by a supermajority, and signed into law by the President, Vermont’s law will be superseded.

The Vermont law requires a label to show if there are genetically modified organisms (GMOs). However, the compromised reach by the U.S. Senate gives food manufacturers a number of options for how to disclose products that contain GM ingredients which leaves a lot of room for the consumer to still be confused about what is in the food they are buying.

The debate over GM food and consumer education with the labeling of food has been going on for quite some time. This new bill brings the question of labeling to the forefront once again, but will these bills help consumers obtain the information they need to know in order to make the best choices for their families?

New Changes for the Nutrition Facts Label

Will Clearer Food Labels, Make Healthier Choices Clearer?,” is a question we will soon have the answer to! On May 20, 2016 the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) announced that a new nutrition facts panel will be required for many packaged foods. By July 26, 2018 all manufacturers with annual food sales greater than $10 million will have to comply with the label changes, and all companies with less than $10 million in sales will need to comply by July 26, 2019.

While many products are included in these changes there are a few categories that are exempt. Meat, poultry, processed eggs, and fish will not be affected by the change.

First Lady Michelle Obama shared her thoughts in the release, “The White House and FDA Announce Modernized Nutrition Facts Label.” “I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide. This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices,” said Obama.

In addition to this, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. shared his support of the changes as well. According to the article “FDA modernizes Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods,” Califf said, “For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day. The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices – one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”

Listed below are important updates regarding changes to the label:

Design

  • The label will have the same iconic look, but will include updates to make key information stand out.
    • “Calories” and “Servings per container” will have an increased font size.
    • In addition to this, “Serving size” and “Calories” will be bolded.
  • There will be an actual amount in addition to a percent for the Daily Value of “Vitamin D,” “Calcium,” “Iron,” and “Potassium.”
  • There will also be a better explanation of Daily Value percent as indicated on the new label pictured below.

Nutrition Science

  • To help consumers know the quantity of “Added Sugars” for a particular product, the declaration of grams and a Percent Daily Value have been added.
  • There are also new requirements for some nutrients, while others are no longer required.
    • Required nutrients include:
      • Vitamin D (new requirement)
      • Potassium (new requirement)
      • Calcium
      • Iron
    • Nutrients that are no longer required include:
      • Vitamin A
      • Vitamin C
  • “Calories from Fat” is being removed from the label.
  • Daily values for nutrients are being updated based on newer evidence from the Institute of Medicine, such as:
    • Sodium
    • Dietary Fiber
    • Vitamin D
  • Updates With Serving Sizes
    • According to the law, serving sizes must be based on amounts people are actually in taking, not what they should be eating.
    • Products that are larger than a single serving, but can be consumed in a sitting or multiple sittings will have to have a “Dual Column” label to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients for “Per Serving” and “Per Packaging”/”Per Unit” basis.

In a nutshell, the major changes to the food label include modifying the nutrients list that must be on the label, updating serving size, and providing a refreshed design. The idea is to help consumers manage calorie intake and cut sugar intake for a healthier diet.

Label Comparison

(Pictured above is a comparison of the original label versus the new label. Source: fda.gov.)