The role of wrapping machinery in EU food innovation

Wrapping machinery might not sound like a likely major contributor to innovation in the EU’s food retail sector.

But research published by the European Commission shows the increasingly important role packaging plays in food industry innovation across the continent.

In 2004, the biggest contributors to food innovation in the EU were new flavours and novel products, but this has decreased in the years since.

By 2012, around a third of all innovations in the food retail sector related to the packaging of the product.

Commission vice-president in charge of competition policy Joaquin Almunia said: “European citizens should enjoy good food at affordable prices.

“This study provides important insights and paves the way for future work in these areas.”

Importantly, the study found that new competitors entering the industry always increase choice and innovation, while the massive bargaining power of major retailers does not appear to decrease choice and innovation.

With all this in mind, the correct choice of wrapping machinery may be a more important factor than many new start-ups realise, providing the opportunity to create a distinctive, affordable product that will stand out on retail shelves.

wrapping machinery

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PPMA14 interview with Michael Portillo

We recently attended the PPMA show and our very own director, Malcolm Little, had the pleasure of being interviewed by Michael Portillo, take a look:

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Five consumer factors influence use of wrapping machinery

We often talk about the regulatory and marketing factors that influence your choice of wrapping machinery – such as the need to clearly display ingredients lists or brand messages.

However, customer-focused companies might be keen to closely align their choice of wrapping machinery with the needs of their consumers.

A newly published study in Packaging Technology and Science provides some insight into this, with five separate influences identified.

These include the relationship between the product and its packaging; the context in which it is purchased and used; consumers’ awareness of packages; fashionable influences on packaging; and routines and rituals.

Between them, these five factors span everything from matters of taste to habitual uses of certain types of packaging, to the setting in which products are consumed.

For example, while a novel packaging method might be better for those who understand how to use it, the lack of familiarity could be off-putting for many customers.

In contrast, if such an innovation were closely aligned with fashionable developments, perhaps in another product category or in a wider trend like environmental sustainability, the potential to encourage consumer uptake of the novel package could be greater.

Packaging Technology and Science

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Asking the internet about industrial labelling

It’s always good when your industrial labelling decisions are underpinned by sound market research – but in these modern times, can you just ask your customers directly what they want from your packaging?

The answer, if you have active and engaging social media accounts, might be a resounding yes, but there is still the doubt over whether web users’ opinions on industrial labelling are representative of your customer base as a whole.

Research published in the academic journal Packaging Technology and Science suggests that while web users have valid points to make, it might be worth considering their responses alongside – rather than instead of – any other market research activities you undertake.

In particular, a Finnish team including Markus Joutsela of the Aalto University School of Arts and Virpi Korhonen of the Association of Packaging Technology and Research found that online feedback tends to be broader and less specific.

“The research yielded rich data, even on such a complex issue as the relation of packaging to food loss prevention,” they write.

“However, answers provided by individual participants may remain less grounded and less rich in detail than those elicited with other qualitative methods, such as interviews or focus groups.”

So it seems if you need opinions on your industrial labelling, the web is good for general feedback, while focus groups are – as their name suggests – good for more tightly focused responses.

Packaging Technology and Science

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Sleeving machines offer chance to gain market share in energy drinks segment

Sleeving machines allow you to make the most of the marketing ‘real estate’ on any kind of bottle or similar package, with wraparound labels that are made to fit using shrink sleeving.

This means you can use as much of the surface of the bottle as you want for labelling and branding – and if you are in the sports and energy drinks segment, that could be an important way to gain market share.

According to Mintel, consumers are looking for better information about the nutritional impacts of energy drinks, including safe quantities for consumption per day, and how specific functional ingredients help to keep them awake and alert.

This is at a time when 54% of all Brits claim to frequently feel tired, rising to 60% of women.

David Zhang, research analyst at Mintel, says: “The high proportion of consumers wanting to understand how energy drink ingredients work offers a way for brands to differentiate themselves in the market by highlighting the ingredients used.”

Interestingly, 55% of Brits who buy sports drinks, and 47% who buy energy drinks, say they consume them at home, rather than outdoors or at the gym.

So it is worth making the best use of the opportunities offered to you by shrink sleeving machines – as many of your customers may be in more of a position to study your labels than you realised.

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Wrapping machinery that disguises near-emptiness may mean happier consumers

One aspect of wrapping machinery that you might overlook is whether it makes it easy to see how much is left in a container.

It might seem like the weight of the pack and its contents would be a good indicator of near-emptiness, but remember that consumers might not know how heavy the empty container will be once all the contents are gone.

Use wrapping machinery to hide the bottom of a jar or bottle, and this could effectively leave the shopper with no cues or clues as to how full or empty it actually is.

Interestingly, newly published research in the Journal of Consumer Psychology suggests that this could have a big impact on users’ state of mind.

Titled ‘Acts of Emptying Promote Self-Focus’, the article explains that emptying a container – whether it is a jar, a bag, or even a pocket – triggers feelings of inner emptiness too.

Most people compensate for this with self-indulgent behaviour, including ‘retail therapy’, but significantly this focuses on shopping for themselves, and not to buy gifts for others.

So it is worth considering which behaviour might be more beneficial to you – and if your product is one relating to self-indulgence, hiding how much is left could leave your customers unprepared for the emotional effects of using the last of it.

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Why sleeving might be the future for dietary supplements

When you think about sleeving, you might have certain preconceptions about the types of products that are packaged and labelled in this way – and the most obvious examples are drinks and some household cleaning products.

But what about vitamin supplements? These are often supplied in pharmaceutical bottles, but in many cases are packaged using ‘normal’ label equipment and adhesive front and back labels, rather than all-around sleeving.

A report from Datamonitor Consumer includes several trends within the supplement market that could make shrink sleeving more prevalent within this category, however.

The analyst notes that young people are more trusting of labels’ claims of health benefits – in fact more than two in five of those aged 18-34 consider such claims to be ‘somewhat’ or ‘completely’ trustworthy.

However, an increasing number of people are resistant to the idea of ‘popping pills’, or of taking supplements in any kind of tablet or capsule form, for that matter.

Instead, there are a growing number of functional beverages, chewable supplements and even jellies on the market.

Sleeving is the ideal way to make the most of the packaging ‘real estate’ on these, proudly displaying health benefits from any viewing angle, and helping supplements to stand out on a crowded supermarket or pharmacy shelf.

dietary supplments

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Simple labelling machines may be best for food

It is easy to think that complicated product labels can help make the product itself appear more complex, and so more valuable, but in some cases more simple labelling machines could help you gain the competitive edge.

This is particularly the case in the food market, where consumer analysts Mintel have reported a trend towards clear packaging with smaller, simpler labels that do not obstruct the view of the product itself inside the packaging.

Food and drink analyst Amanda Topper tells Mintel it is “no surprise” that clear packaging is gaining ground, as part of a wider trend towards consumers gaining the ability to directly assess the quality of the product at the time of their purchase decision.

“Transparent packaging, combined with simple product labels, may be the winning combination in terms of appealing to health-conscious, quality-seeking shoppers,” she says.

Whether this means shrink sleeving with clear plastic, or using wrapping machinery with built-in or separate labelling machines to affix the label, the trend is a ‘clear’ one in every sense, making it a transparent opportunity for food producers to gain an advantage on the shop shelves.

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Advanced Dynamics’ labelling and sleeving machines to feature at PPMA

The upcoming PPMA Show in Birmingham this September will feature a range of Advanced Dynamics’ label equipment and sleeving machines.

PPMA is due to get underway on September 30th and last until October 2nd, and Advanced Dynamics will be at stand D31 in the NEC Birmingham.

Visitors can see how label equipment like fully automated Pack Leader labelling systems – of which Advanced Dynamics are the sole UK distributors – can take over from manual labelling without requiring a huge initial capital outlay.

The worry of spending upfront is an obstacle that prevents many companies from considering automated labelling systems, but Pack Leader’s range includes versatile and compact machines ideal for use in small businesses.

Malcolm Little, managing director of Advanced Dynamics, said: “The PPMA exhibition is the perfect platform for us to demonstrate high-quality automatic labelling systems which can improve efficiency and transform a production line.

“Label applicators can mitigate the risks of adhesive issues, wrinkling, skewing and frayed edges – faults which delay production, cost money and lead to waste.”

The Pack Leader SL301 shrink sleeving machine will also be on display at the booth, offering an alternative for bottles and caps that contain beverages, food, medicines and other pharmaceuticals.

PPMA

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Hen today, gone tomorrow: campaigners call for consistent labelling system for chicken

Chickens get a rough deal, going from egg to meat in less than 40 days if they are intensively farmed – and campaigners are now calling for a clear, consistent and mandatory labelling system for chicken meat to ensure consumers are accurately informed of how it was reared.

Tamsin French, Sam White and Johanna Olsson are visiting 21 member states of the EU in just 39 days – the same length of time as an intensively farmed chicken is alive for.

In each country they will dress as Rosa the chicken, on behalf of the Labelling Matters campaign, which in turn is supported by organisations including Compassion in World Farming.

Sam said: “We have the opportunity to potentially change the way people buy their chicken meat across the entire EU.”

Already, a mandatory labelling system has been introduced for eggs; the campaign wants to achieve the same for chickens reared for meat, rather than for egg-laying.

The Labelling Matters campaign would like to see not only mandatory labelling for free range chicken, but also for intensively farmed meat, so that consumers are left in no doubt as to where their chicken was raised.

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