Keeping your batch codes in place on frozen foods and ready meals
The frozen foods and ready meals sector is enjoying healthy growth. Manufacturers could look to their coding and marking equipment to ensure they are in good shape to grow with the sector.
How is the industry growing?
The UK is already a key market for the industry, as it contributes to 46% of all ready meals eaten in Europe. (Mintel 2017)
As a result, the industry is expected to continue to grow to £5.6 billion by 2019 (Mintel 2017) – in particular the chilled soups, pastry, frozen ready meal categories.
How printing of variable information is affected
Manufacturers already operate to tight margins. Instead of washing down a line to accept a new product run, they may simply move coding equipment to a cleaned line, which saves time and cost. Light, portable printers that are easy to move and set up can help to reduce both cost and downtime.
Specific challenges for batch printing in frozen food and ready meals production
Printed codes are expected to stick onto a range of packaging materials, such as plastic trays with flexible film lids, card sleeves, tubs, pouches and flexible film bags. Each material will have a different interaction with an ink, so it is important to test the ink in your coder on all your packaging materials to ensure that it will adhere and stay put throughout your products’ lifecycles.
Post-fill processes may also have an effect on the printed code. For instance, plastic film will flex during cooking or retort processes, and blast freezing may again may affect the adherence of the printed code onto plastic. Inks need to stay flexible to accommodate the movement of the material; if they become brittle then the ink may flake away, taking your code with it.