Diversification in the baked goods industry – how does this affect coding?
The baked goods industry is changing – and inevitably any change impacts on all parts of an operation. So what are these changes and how might they affect your choice of coding machinery?
Healthy eating is on the rise. Consumers are becoming more aware of ingredients in their food, and with more demand for gluten and wheat-free products, growth in this sector is predicted at 12% by 2021 (Technavio).
Coupled with the healthy eating movement is an increase in cereal bars, breakfast on the go foods, and protein/fibre rich bars for sports people as well as general consumers.
In response to the changing consumer environment, baked goods manufacturers are widening their product portfolios and brands are becoming more diversified. For instance, in less than ten years there has been a jump in food and drink products in the ‘free-from’ sector, from 1% to 7%.
Frequent product changeovers - productivity
As brands extend their product ranges to meet new market trends, production lines may need to run several products down the line in one shift. This means more frequent batch code changes - and the higher the number of these, the greater the possibility of mistakes creeping in.
Coding errors bring with them the risk of recalls, rework, and even scrappage for short shelf life products which may not be able to be reworked. First-time accuracy of code is therefore essential.
A batch coder, which has a simple interface, will reduce the likelihood of errors. Icon-led interfaces that are similar to mobile phones will be more familiar to operators and easier to use. In addition, fewer key presses to select or create a message also reduce the time taken during product changeovers. Equally important for the bottom line, with more product types being produced, any time saved between batch runs will improve productivity and help manufacturers meet their targets.
Premium products – brand protection
Another trend in the baked goods sector is a growth in premium products. Mature markets of Western Europe and North America have only seen moderate growth over the last five years. However, an increase in disposable income is leading consumers to seek out premium products for which they are prepared to pay a higher price. This provides an opportunity for growth for manufacturers of baked goods.
Consumers expect a premium product to have premium packaging, and the code has to be part of this. Consistent, accurate coding is therefore necessary to reflect and support a product’s brand image, and also reassure the consumer that the product is genuine.
One of the best was to achieve this is by using a non-contact method of printing such as Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ).
The benefits of this technology include faster line speeds than contact methods such as stamping or labels. In addition, CIJ inks are fast-drying, so the risk of smudged codes is significantly reduced.
Diverse packaging types - quality
Product diversity and an increase in premium goods may demand a wider range of packaging types. This in turn will require a flexible printer that is capable of printing consistently across multiple pack formats.
CIJ printing is suitable for most baked goods packaging materials including flexible film, pouches, cartons and closures. As CIJ is non-contact with the ink ejected from the printhead onto the substrate, it can cope with irregular surfaces, ensuring codes are consistently accurate on different materials, even on high speed lines.
In addition, CIJ printers are flexible in that they can code up to 5 lines of information, including date and batch codes, barcodes and even logos. A wide range of inks is available, based on colour, drying time, adhesion and level of odour so it is possible to select the ink best suited to your application.
Some CIJ printers also have a carton coding function, allowing both primary and secondary packaging to be coded with the same machine and further adding to the appeal of CIJ printers as a solution to meet the changing demands of the baked goods industry.