Few people understand the value and importance of local food products better than Tom Forti, co-owner of Sunrise Creative Gourmet and a fourth-generation family member to run the company. The brand began operating as a local bakery in 1913 in Hibbing, Minn. Sunrise Gourmet has since expanded to include fresh and dry noodles, frozen pastas, ethnic dishes and deli foods, which have been sold wholesale to retailers from its Hibbing location. Recently, Forti brought these items to the Twin Cities when he opened Sunrise Market in St. Paul, the family’s first retail location. The market sells Sunrise Gourmet products as well as other specialty and gourmet foods.

Critical decisions needed to be made in order to grow the company. According to Forti, these included branding, product packaging and labeling, packaging material, pricing and quantity packs. In order to make the most informed packaging decisions while maintaining the brand’s authenticity, Sunrise Gourmet enlisted the help of Inver Grove Heights-based Lofton Label (www.loftonlabel.com) in 2011 for its food labeling needs.

Sunrise Gourmet products are just that — gourmet. Settling for an inexpensive or generic label would compromise the quality of the product and brand experience. With the help of Lofton Label business development specialist Gary Bird, Forti custom-designed the labels for the company’s Sunrise Gourmet pasta line.

The background of the pasta label is made to look like a gingham checkered tablecloth, which changes slightly for each type of pasta. A dominant circle is bordered in red, green and white to represent the flag of Italy. The label has a matte finish to grab consumer interest and portray an organic, natural quality.

“Some of my earliest memories are of falling asleep on flour sacks and the red gingham tablecloth in our family’s bakery,” says Forti. “I really wanted the pasta labels to show the authenticity of the Sunrise brand and reflect my childhood and our traditional Italian family dinners. The quality of our labels reflects the quality of our food. That’s something Lofton has helped us achieve at an affordable price.”

How exactly did the two companies manage to create a custom label for small batches of pasta at an affordable price? They did so with Lofton Label’s HP digital technology. One of the reasons behind Sunrise Gourmet’s success with Lofton is the ability to respond to the ebb and flow of the market. With more than 21 pasta label SKUs and orders that change constantly in size and type, the digital press was the best option.

“The digital press allows Sunrise to respond efficiently to changes in the market without having to obsolete inventory,” says Bird. “Sunrise products are made in small batches, giving the brand an exclusivity and freshness. Orders are constantly changing, and the digital press allows for these changes. By ordering fewer products more often, Sunrise can keep that exclusivity and freshness that customers are looking for and capture market share faster than the competition.”

Sunrise Gourmet and Sunrise Deli labels are produced on Lofton’s digital press, allowing Forti to keep pasta prices under $5 per package. And that’s important to Forti and his customers. The combination of an eye-catching quality custom label with an inexpensive price allows Sunrise to compete with big-box brands in the retail setting where some Sunrise products can now be found.

Recently, Sunrise Gourmet has begun introducing gluten-free versions of its pasta.

“We really wanted an outlet to sell gluten-free pasta,” says Forti. “Our St. Paul location has a cooperative kitchen where we can make the pasta without worry of cross-contamination, which allows us to cater to the growing gluten-free consumer population.”

 As Sunrise Creative Gourmet continues to expand its line of products, Lofton Label is there to help the brand with its custom labeling and packaging needs, by leveraging the power of digital label production to drive business success.