With growing competition for shelf space and the demand for clear product information, the labelling sector is increasingly an important area of focus throughout the food and beverage industry. Stewart Serls of Label-Form shares a brief insight with FoodChain’s Andrew Dann on some of the issues facing the labelling sector in the food market

The food and beverage sector has always been a competitive market that represents a challenging arena for new brands and concepts. Although it is understood that it can be difficult for new products to gain traction with consumers, there is some debate over the actual failure rate of new launches with estimates ranging from around 40 per cent to as high as 80 per cent! The upper estimate of failure rates in excess of 80 per cent was presented in ‘The 2020 Shopper’ white paper report, which was released by the Central Group in 2012 and written by the globally recognised speaker and industry leader, Inez Blackburn, Market Techniques and Innovations, University of Toronto. The report itself is focused on shopping trends generally rather than the food and drink market specifically, meaning that its findings do not necessarily accurately reflect the failure rate of new products in the food industry Indeed, the most intimidating predictions relating to failed project launches in the food industry have become something of an urban myth, however what is certain is that the sector is still a highly competitive environment where an eye-catching packaging and labelling can be critical.

The challenges facing manufacturers and suppliers to the food and beverage industry are further compounded by the growing requirement to display clear nutritional and related information on food packaging. The 2014 introduction of EU FIC regulations on food labelling, for example requires manufacturers to list any of 14 allergens used as ingredients in a pre-packaged food. Businesses can choose what method they want to use to emphasise these allergens, including by listing them in bold, italics, highlighted or underlined, but information about allergenic ingredients is to be located in a single place, i.e. the ingredients list on pre-packed food. The requirement to comply with industry regulations coupled with the increasing competition for shelf space has created a rapidly moving market for packaging design, which has had a further impact on the labelling sector for food products. “For food and drinks manufacturers, new laws such as EU FIC regulation have had a huge impact on the industry as producers are forced to change their labels all the time – which is a good thing for our business,” observes Label-Form Commercial Director, Stewart Serls. “The rules governing nutritional values and presenting information to the public are changing year-on-year and as a result more new labels are coming through.”

Within the food and beverage industry, Label-Form supplies labels to some of the UK’s most prestigious brands and independent producers. The company is focused on high-quality label solutions, including the ‘no label look’ to ensure products that stand out. To ensure the company is able to deliver the most effective solution, Label-Form works closely with customers from the initial concept design stages through to the sourcing of materials. An important trend within the labelling sector is the growing combination of digital with traditional printing methods which led to Label-Form deciding in April 2015 to install a Durst Tau 330 digital UV Inkjet label press, which will accompany its already well established print processes like Screen UV, Letterpress, Hot-Foil and Embossing. The decision has allowed the company to further expand its presence as a leading label printing specialist to clients within the food, luxury industry and beyond to reach what it refers to a ‘new level of digital print.’

In addition to increasing the capacity of Label-Form in the field of digital printing, the Durst Tau 330 places the company at the forefront of new developments in the use of low migration inks. The Tau 330 is fully compatible with SUNJET’s range of Tau low migration inks for primary food packaging, while substrates of the Tau Low Migration Inks comply with all of the guidelines of the European Printing Ink Association (EUPIA), the Swiss Ordnance for Materials and the Nestlé Packaging Inks Specifications. Low migration ink expands the production range of the Durst Tau 330 to include self-supported foils, such as blister packaging, yogurt lids and many other applications and is critical in the food industry as it does not migrate into the food itself. “Many customers come to us because of the colour density and white we normally offer with screen printing,” Stewart explains. “The colours and white produced by the Durst range are absolutely fantastic, which is one of the main reasons why we opted for the Tau 330.”

Label-Form will be exhibiting at Packaging Innovations and Luxury Packaging London, set to take place at London Olympia 14 and 15 September 2016. The event will showcase further innovations within the labelling and packaging markets, including a new type of bottle made from black glass, produced by Rawlings. The bottle’s high gloss finish not only increases the product’s shelf presence but its UK light protection act as a protecting element that extends the life of its contents. With so many innovations within the packaging and labelling market, supermarket shelves are set to become very exciting indeed in the near future!