A study carried out last year by Global Industry Analysts Inc. (strategyr.com), predicted that world snack food sales will top a third of a trillion dollars by 2015. The salty snacks industry has prospered as manufacturers offer consumers a vast array of products in a variety of sizes and packaging to match their budgets and lifestyle needs. We spoke to Matt Perkins, snack foods industry marketing manager at Videojet Technologies about industry trends, high quality coding and how to prevent coding errors in the salty snack industry.
Food and Beverage Packaging: What are the recent developments of the salty snack industry?
Matt Perkins: As today’s consumers seek convenience and variety, the salty snacks industry is subject to rapid changes. Manufacturers must innovate and constantly come up with new products, new flavors, new packaging types and, in different sizes. Today’s consumers are more health aware and demand a wider choice of snacks. This trend is reflected in the Mintel US forecast volume growth projections (2014/2015) which predicts that the potato chips segment is expected to show a modest one percent increase, while the nuts category is expected to grow to 2.49%. This could be attributed to the fact that, as consumers are becoming more health conscious they switch to different snacks such as nuts which provide an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber and vitamin E and are considered healthier.
FBP: What are the challenges faced by the manufacturers of the industry?
Perkins: The market is competitive and fragmented with many industry players, large and small. The importance of code quality in the salty snacks industry is higher for brand-focused companies as poor code quality can detract from the overall package and brand. However, the nature of this industry means that high quality coding can be a challenge. Grease, salt, dust and other environmental conditions can affect code adhesion and lead to poor quality printing. As packaging formats and materials are becoming more innovative and diverse, it is imperative to choose the right type of ribbon or ink to help ensure the highest level of quality marking.
Maintaining a high quality code is important to protect brand image and help ensure product traceability, but irrelevant if the code is not right. Ensuring that the correct code is applied in the correct location and on the correct product is essential. It will minimize the risk of costly product recalls, and reduce costs from product rework. However new products, new flavors and more bag sizes means more codes to manage and the potential for costly coding errors. In addition, codes have a tendency to be very similar, which makes it easy to get them confused.
FBP: How can coding and marking solutions help manufacturers in the salty snacks industry address these concerns?
Perkins: Thermal Transfer Overprinting (TTO) technology is particularly adapted to the sector as it has been engineered to print on flexible films such as bags and pouches used in the salty snacks industry. TTO offers high resolution coding of 300dpi for near letter quality codes. We have carried out our own research on Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), which include salty snacks, and have seen that up to 70% of coding errors are caused by humans. To address this problem, TTO printers are equipped with code assurance solutions, which virtually eliminate coding errors and allow manufacturers to remove human errors from the message setup process, helping them meet the requirements of retail and regulatory guidelines for accuracy and product traceability.
Selecting a TTO solution also includes choosing the right ribbon. Not all ribbons are created equal. To understand the factors that affect code adhesion, suppliers have developed an advanced portfolio of high-quality TTO ribbons, and their expertise can help you get the most from your TTO printer. With variations engineered for optimal substrate adhesion in a wide selection of colors, snack producers are virtually guaranteed to find a perfect match for their application, packaging type and brand image.
FBP: What other advantages have printing and coding solutions for the salty snacks industry?
Perkins: Some snack producers now use laser marking systems to code on their products. A laser etches permanent codes with limited consumables and no solvents on select packaging materials. Also, in a manufacturing environment where eliminating downtime is critical, laser systems are relatively low in maintenance, with a typical month of production requiring few maintenance interventions, if any. For example, filters for the fume extractors must be replaced occasionally and waste residue from markings should also be wiped away from the laser lens periodically to prevent accumulation.
Since lasers cannot work on all packaging materials, we would always recommend that salty snack manufacturers ask their coding suppliers for sample testing to assess the suitability of the technology for their particular application.
Matt Perkins is a Vertical Marketing Manager for Videojet Technologies where he specializes in the baked goods, salty snacks and tobacco industries globally. Through his work, he visits baked goods, salty snacks and tobacco manufacturers to better understand their processing and coding challenges and improve marking and coding solutions for those industries. Prior to Videojet, he was an Associate at A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm. He holds a BSE in Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
About Videojet Technologies
Videojet Technologies (videojet.com) is a world-leader in the product identification market, providing in-line printing, coding, and marking products, application specific fluids and product life cycle services. With customer application experts and technology leadership in continuous ink jet (CIJ), thermal ink jet (TIJ), laser marking, thermal transfer overprinting (TTO), case coding and labeling, and wide array printing, Videojet has more than 325,000 printers installed worldwide. Customer sales, application, service, and training support is provided by direct operations with over 3,000 team members in 26 countries worldwide. In addition, Videojet’s distribution network includes more than 400 distributors and OEMs, serving 135 countries.