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.)

Using Labelers to Promote Your Product

Have you ever wanted to try a new promotion or to do a short-term run on a specialty brand or new product? Or, perhaps your business runs promotions on a regular basis. When promoting your products it is important to convey a professional message upfront and make sure your target customer receives the message loud and clear.  EPI Labelers has affordable labeling systems that can help you with your promotional opportunities whether they are short-term or long-term.

We are currently receiving many calls about applying coupon labels onto bags in the candy, produce, and snack food markets, and wanted to provide some information about ways our labelers can be used as a promotional tool for your business.

As mentioned above, one of the ways to boost sales for your products is by using an IRC. Often times that coupon helps the customer to finalize a borderline decision they are trying to make and can serve as the determining factor for making a purchase. Promotions help to sell products! In fact, there have been many times I have walked into a store to purchase just one item, but have walked out with much more because something new caught my eye or there was an instant coupon special for one of the items I am interested in.

Flex Pac - Labeling Systems for Flexible Packages

EPI has been designing labelers for over 35 years. One of our specialties is serving as the manufacturer of Flexible Packaging labelers. Our EPI Flex-Pac™ options can be used with many packaging machines such as, VFFS (vertical bag maker), Pouch, HFFS (horizontal flow wrappers) and stretch wrappers.

Our Flex-Pac™ labeler can be used for promotions such as coupons, primary labels, or reclosable labels. It works by applying pressure sensitive labels to the surface of your package and can be used for a variety of products.

We also have affordable rental options for our Flex-Pac™, in case your business is not ready for the commitment of buying the labeler. It is our goal to meet your needs by supplying you with a labeler for monthly promotions.

If you have any questions about labels or want to learn more about our labeling equipment please feel free to reach out to us by contacting our sales department at 717.235.8345 or emailing them at sales@epilabelers.com. We’d love to help you promote your product the best way possible whether it is with a coupon or some other method of promotion!

Factors to Consider When Designing a Label

Designing a label that accurately represents your brand is important for businesses trying to stand out in this competitive marketplace. There are many aspects that play a role in label design including the proper selection of color, shapes, and symbols. Read on as we break down elements to keep in mind when crafting a label for your product.

Keys to Grab the Consumer’s Attention

Many brand marketers believe that words on products are the most important key to grabbing the consumer’s attention, but are those words what really draws the consumer in? Studies have shown that the hierarchy is as follows:

  • Color
  • Shapes
  • Symbols
  •  Words

The communication of signs and symbols as elements is a meaningful statement that resonates with the consumer. In fact, the secretariat of the Seoul International Color Expo conducted research and documented information about color and marketing and the relationship between the two:

According to this research, 92.6% of participants felt visual factors are the most important when purchasing products, 5.6% felt the physical feel was most important, and 0.9% are drawn to purchasing a product by hearing and smell.

In addition to this, over half of the respondents think that color is important when choosing products. Color is more than brand recognition, it conveys traits about a company, almost like sending a subliminal message to the consumer. Colors convey personality and emotions. For instance:

  • Red conveys the following emotions:
    • Exciting
    • Inviting
    • Increase of passion and intensity
    • Love
  • Yellow conveys the emotions of:
    • Cheerful and warm
    • Energy
    • Happiness
  • Blue conveys the emotions:
    • Ease
    • Trustworthy
    • Dependable
    • Secure

Studies have shown that consumers take just seconds to locate and select a product. Visibility on the shelf with the appropriate use of color can increase brand recognition, while also serving as an important brand identifier.

Product Placement

The importance of product placement in retail is just as important as the branding. The better a business is at placing products on the shelf the more profit they will make. According to “The Importance of Product Placement In the Retail World,” there are a variety of options for product placement including:

  • Block Placement – related items are placed together
  • Vertical Placement – items placed on more than one shelf level
  • Commercial Placement – items with higher perceived value are given better placement
  • Margin Product Placement – more profitable items receive better positions
  • Market Share Placement – products that generate the highest revenue are placed in spots easily found

The article “The science that makes us spend more in supermarkets, and feel good while we do it,” cites how a commonly used phrase in retail is “eye level is buy level.” This means products that sell better are positioned at eye level. In addition to this, the number of times a product is seen also impacts sales.

Store layout is important as well. Putting similar items together such as baking goods, chips, and sodas makes sense. However, sometimes convenience makes a purchase more likely. For instance, if you are going to buy ice cream and see toppings at the end of the isle you may purchase these to accompany your ice cream. It is possible that you may have entered the store with no intentions of buying toppings, but once you saw all of the options available you made the purchase for some caramel to go on top of your ice cream.

The Label Design Process

When designing your label make sure to include colors, symbols, and imagery that fit your brand and are likely to impact the consumer’s decision to purchase your product. By designing a label with the elements that lead consumers to take action, your product will have a better chance for success and standing out from the crowd. It is also important to think about the placement of your product in stores during this process so you have a better idea of where your product will be located on the shelf. Having all of this information during the design process will help your brand to think about the way consumers make purchases.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming infographic “Labeling, The Psychology Behind the Design” to learn more about the information on labels and what’s important to the consumer! In the meantime, if you have any questions about labels or labeling please feel free to reach out to us by contacting our sales department at 717.235.8345 or email them at sales@epilabelers.com.

Pros and Cons of Renting vs. Buying Labeling Equipment

Breaking Down the Cost….Pros and Cons of Renting vs. Buying Labeling Equipment

Do you have a short-term production run approaching? Does your marketing department want to try a new promotional program? Maybe you just aren’t ready to commit to another piece of capital equipment. EPI Labelers has no hassle, no maintenance, and no fuss affordable rental options on all labeler systems.

Fleet Rental

Why Rent?

  1. Save Time – we have machines on the shelf ready to ship. This reduces the delivery time with minimal interruption to your production line.
  2. Save Space – rental equipment can be sent back when the job is done. No more taking up unnecessary space in the warehouse.
  3. Save Money – No capital expenditures, our rentals can be expensed as part of the short-term program. The financial burden of maintenance is also passed back to the rental company, EPI.

Our rental program allows you to upgrade your facility for a short period of time for less, while creating a more efficient line. If you need to get into production fast because of a last minute promotion or incorrect information printed, the ideal solution is EPI’s rental program.

Why Not Rent?

  1. Higher End Cost – A lot of times renting is more expensive if you rent for extended periods of time or you rent frequently.
  2. No Ownership – There is no equity being built and you are at the mercy of the rental company.

How often do you have production runs? Does your marketing department run promotional programs regularly? Do you have the available capital to just buy the equipment outright? Maybe it makes sense to just buy the labeler.

Why Buy?

  1. Ownership – When the property, such as an EPI labeler has a long useful life you not only gain ownership but a product that will serve your company for years.
  2. Save Money – Depending on how long you rent or how often you rent it could be cheaper in the long run to buy the equipment out right.
  3. Save Time – EPI labelers are so versatile they lend themselves to a wide variety of applications. If you own the equipment you can use it or change it to fit your company’s needs.

Why Not Buy?

  1. Higher Initial Cost – When buying outright you have to have more money up front, whether you pay cash or have to put 20% down on a loan.
  2. Maintenance – You are responsible for the cost that comes with needed maintenance.

EPI Labelers is a dedicated manufacturer of high quality labeling equipment. Our machines are the answer to your labeling problems. Whether you rent or buy you need to make the choice that is best for your company. There are pros and cons to each. Contact our sales department at 717.235.8345 or email them at sales@epilabelers.com. Let EPI’s sales team help you figure out the best solution to all your labeling needs!

Salty Snack Sales Continue to Increase Through 2020

Salty Snack

The consumption of snack foods in the U.S. is undoubtedly a large part of our culture. Snacks offer a convenient way to curb hunger by eating a quick bite on the go. In addition to this, they are often times individually packaged which means there is little or no preparation required to stock up and enjoy! One of the most popular segments of the snack market is salty snacks. These include our favorite items such as chips, pretzels, and more! The salty snack food market is currently experiencing a strong growth, in fact, by 2020 it is estimated that the U.S. salty snack sales are to hit $27 billion. While this may seem like a large number, the industry is already on its way. Sales were $22.5 billion in 2015 with popular products such as potato chips, popcorn and caramel corn, and fruit and vegetable chips contributing to this growth.

The Appeal of Salty Snacks

The salty snack industry has a large appeal. According to the article “Snacking: The New American Pastime,” Mintel research shows that 60 percent of snackers eat salty snacks as a treat, and 58 percent buy them to satisfy a craving. With large numbers of consumers at stake, it is important for manufacturers to promote their product’s unique benefits. Consumers often times want to eat a healthy snack while feeling as though they are indulging.

Consumer Needs

Knowing what drives consumers to pick one snack over another is important to staying competitive in the snacking industry. For example, how much are health considerations taken into account when selecting snacks? According to a Nielsen study, “More respondents around the world care about the absence of ingredients than the addition of them.” In addition to this, Susan Dunn, executive vice president, Global Professional Services, Nielsen said, “Consumers want snacks to stick to the basics.”

As manufactures of salty snacks move forward with their products, improving taste and product varieties can only help to improve sales. It will also benefit manufactures to pay attention to consumer demands and snacking occasions as well. In addition to taste and variety, the labeling of snack food packages is important. Correctly labeling food helps consumers to learn more about the contents of what they are consuming and highlights the benefits that healthy snacks have to offer.

If you are in the market for a labeler to cater to the snack food industry, consider giving us a call. We have a custom designed Flex-PacTM labeler and strong partnerships with the vast majority of bagger/wrapper manufacturers. In addition to this, we can apply pressure sensitive labels to just about any surface of the package, which makes it ideal for reclosable, production and primacy labels. Let us help you push the salty snack market to $27 billion by 2020.