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Food Labeling Update: Standardized Date Labels Take Effect by 2020

Food LabelingFood Labels: ‘Best if Used by’ and ‘Expiration Date’ Changes

Leading food and beverage companies from across the globe have joined forces in their pledge to standardize date labels on food and beverage products by 2020, in an effort to lessen consumer confusion, and give the industry a more eco-friendly footprint.

Today, food and beverage manufacturers have the option of dating their products with ‘sell by’, ‘use by’, ‘best before’ and ‘display until’ labels to indicate expiration dates, and the broad terminology has proven to be confusing for customers who are throwing away products before they’ve expired.

Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to Cut Food Waste in Half by 2020

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) – a network of more than 400 of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, comprised of industry leaders like Campbell Soup, Nestlé, and Kellogg, have approved the labeling update.

CGF is committed to cutting food waste in half by 2020. The organization estimates the average American household throws away roughly $1,500.00 of food still within the use-by date, every year. CGF stated: “Food waste is a major contributor to climate change, emitting 8% of annual greenhouse gases.” The standardized labeling update will lessen consumer waste, in turn lessening the food industry’s impact on global climate change over time.

New Food Labeling Standards: Steps Towards Compliance

The new standards mean food and beverage producers need to take the required steps towards compliance. Moving forward, there will be one expiration date format for perishable items (e.g. ‘use by’) and one food quality indicator for non-perishable items (e.g. ‘best if used by’). Changes to your format, product packaging, and quality procedures should be made now, in advance of the deadline. You can learn more about the food labeling standard by reading the case of federal regulation published by the Food Law & Policy Clinic at Harvard University.

In addition to updating product labels, producers are encouraged to educate consumers about the shelf life and stability of their products on their website and in their marketing materials. Educating consumers about how to properly interpret expiration date information will result in less overall food waste, saving consumers money and helping to make the food manufacturing industry more sustainable.

For more information about the food and beverage labeling updates visit the Food & DrugAdministration’s (FDA) website.

Local Label Solutions – 3 New England Producers

Our business has been rooted in Vermont for decades and in that time we’ve had the pleasure of partnering with some of New England’s leading, local brands. From specialty foods, to craft beer and hemp producers, we’ve teamed up with some of the areas most well-known companies, delivering custom label solutions that stick.

When it comes to labels and packaging, every business has its own unique set of challenges.  We’ve picked up our fair share of tricks along the way and our years of experience help us to fast-track custom label solutions for all kinds of customers. We thought we’d share some of the issues we’ve come across over our years in business. So, we picked few of our favorite, local companies and with their blessing, decided to tell you a little more about how we helped them overcome their labeling hurdles.

North Country Smokehouse

local label solutions, food labels, custom food labels, specialty food labels, custom labels

As one of the America’s few remaining, family owned smokehouses, North Country Smokehouse has been crafting artisanal smoked meats and cheeses for more than a century. Their new smokehouse is located in Claremont, NH and as you can imagine, producing smoky meats for the masses means meeting strict safety, environmental, and equipment standards.

Challenge: NCS moved into a new facility just a few short months before we met them, and with that came a long-list of challenges. The company had been labeling their products the same way for years and up until the move, they had it all figured out. That was, until their first day of production in the new smokehouse. The labels were no longer sticking but why?

Solution: Our label gurus headed on over to the new smokehouse. Choosing a local label provider means feet on the ground when problems arise. After a brief assessment, we learned that the new smokehouse was built with tighter temperature controls and the label application was a bit colder than it was previously. The temperature changes, however small, were preventing the adhesive from binding to the flexible packaging substrate. We paired a new aggressive, cold temp adhesive with a polypropylene media and moisture resistant over laminate, and had NCS up and running again in no time.

Bent Hill Brewing

local label solutions, craft beer labels, beer bottle labels, beer can labels

This three barrel brewery is located on a 16-acre farm in the Braintree Mountain range of central Vermont. They produce a variety of artisanal craft beers using ingredients from their own land. They grow their own hops, blackberries, blueberries, currants, and cherries. How cool is that?

Brewing over 20 different styles of beer means they had a lot to think about – and anyone who knows anything about craft beer knows one thing. These days – the labels are everything.

Challenges: The first order of business for Bent Hill was finding a local label provider that can respond quickly and ship fast. The brewery is known for producing seasonal flavors in short runs and it was important to them that their provider be quick and nimble. Next in line, was sourcing a cost effective label supplier who could print variable labels without stacking up expensive setup fees.  When you have two dozen label versions, hidden artwork charges can add up fast. Last but not least, beer cans are made from aluminum and have a smooth surface. The low surface energy of the beer cans and cold, wet environments required ultimate label performance.

Solution: With over a decade of experience labeling craft beer cans, we were more than familiar with Bent Hill’s label requirements. Our low label minimums, complimentary setup for variable designs and 5-day shipping guarantee made us the right fit for this brewery, and lucky for us, we’ve been printing their labels for some time. We worked with them to pair specialty media with the right cold temp adhesive combination that survives refrigerated environments and enhances their intricate label designs. 

VT Bacon Soap

local label solutions, cosmetics labels, soap labels, custom health and beauty labels

If you cock your head to the right, stand on one foot and squint – you can see Okemo Mountain from our office. At the base of the mountain sits VT Bacon Soap. In case the name didn’t give it away, they make soap…. with BACON. Aside the obvious points for coolest company ever, their making strides towards sustainability by producing soaps, shower gels and sugar scrubs that are phthalate and paraben free, non GMO, without harsh chemicals or preservatives. Despite everything they’re doing right, the fact remains, labeling soap can be hard. 

Challenge:

VT Bacon Soap called us looking for a flexible label with good contour to accommodate their specialty shapes. The label had to hug the soap just right, without cracking, wrinkling or curling. It also had to survive the life cycle of the product by resisting oils and residue, to maintain a shelf stable presentation.

Solution:

First things first – we sent multiple sets of media over for testing. With a little finesse and a  lot of teamwork, VT Bacon Soap found a media combination that was malleable enough for their specialty label shapes and could withstand the soaps natural characteristics. Our laser cutting Spartanics system meant VT Bacon Soap could avoid expensive tooling charges, and by printing digitally, they saved money on color charges. This was an ideal solution for their them, being that their custom soap labels are vibrant with a full color floodcoat.

So, there you have it. Three local label challenges and the solutions that made them stick. For more information about how ImageTek Labels can help you overcome your labeling hurdles, simply drop us line by emailing sales@imageteklabels.com or calling (866) 403-5223.

Craft Brewers Face Added Nutritional Testing Expenses

Craft Brewers May be Forced into Big Beer Business

craft brewersCraft Brewers are at risk of incurring added manufacturing expenses. The Beer Institute, a trade association based in Washington, D.C. that represents brewers both big and small, as well as importers and suppliers to the beer industry, has recently published what it calls “The Brewer’s Voluntary Disclosure Initiative.”  The idea is for craft brewers and importers to voluntarily agree to disclose certain information to consumers – calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol by volume or weight on the product label. The Initiative also calls for listing all ingredients and a freshness date on either the custom label or secondary packaging or through a website reference or bar code.  In theory, this will allow consumers to make better-informed decisions.  Some consumers may appreciate having the information available, but others probably would rather avoid it. Think about it – do you really want to know exactly how many calories are in that beer?

Many of the big beer companies like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have already agreed to follow these guidelines. This is not a surprise, since the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Beer Institute are big shots with Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, respectively. But the more pressing reason is that starting in May of 2018, the FDA is requiring restaurants with 20 or more locations nationwide to disclose calories and other nutrition information for standard menu items, including beverages.  Many chain restaurants have been providing most of this information for some time, as the compliance date initially was set to be earlier but has been extended several times.

If a new or existing craft brewery seeks to distribute its beer to restaurants, it may need to factor nutritional testing into startup or business costs. The cost of testing a batch of beer to gather this information is estimated to be between $300 and $1,000. Small craft brewers may not be able to bear these costs without increasing their prices. Although craft beer offers on large chain restaurant menus are relatively few and far between, if an enticing opportunity arose for a craft brewer to sell its beer at such a place, it would miss that chance if it could not provide the required information to the restaurant. It is not yet clear what liability a brewer may have for providing erroneous information in this regard, but to avoid unnecessary risks brewers  will need to ensure their data is accurate. And consumers of craft beer may end up eating (drinking?) the cost.

For more information about craft beer and nutrition labeling visit thebeerinstitute.com. This article was published by JPSupra.com,  a daily source of legal intelligence on all topics business and personal.