Food product producers are coming to terms with consumer trends that emerged from three years of disruption. “A total of 85% [of consumers] said they were doing something differently, with about 60% cooking at home more,” a 2020 food industry survey found.
As food brands react to consumer behavior, their food label creation and production requirements change as well. In this article, we uncover how these recent trends are affecting converters responsible for printing food labels. We provide suggestions for food label converters on how to respond to meet new demands while maintaining good relationships with their food product manufacturing clients.
Three Industry Trends Every Food Label Converter Should Know
Consumer trends that are here to stay will have a long-term influence on food label converters’ operations. For example, consumers have embraced pre-packaged meals and meal preparation kits over dining out. Converters must also evolve to meet changing food package design and sustainability expectations among consumers. Here is a closer look at these three emerging trends and how food label converters can adapt.
#1: Food production has shifted from restaurants to retail
In the last couple years, food brands have seen an increase in retail sales (e.g., sales to grocers) as consumers started preparing more meals at home. Responding to the diversity of tastes, needs and levels of food preparation meant a greater variety of shortlist products, and shorter, more diverse label print runs for those products, as a result.
For food label converters, working with a variety of materials vendors can help ensure access to the supplies needed to meet these changing demands. Converters with a variety of supplier relationships can be well-positioned to take on more projects and new clients as food brands seek to become more agile with their manufacturing and corresponding label designs.
#2: Customers are requesting more earth-friendly products
In recent years, consumer demand for food products that are mindful of their impact on the planet and have a smaller environmental footprint has grown. This is especially true for younger consumers, who are willing to pay more for food products that align with their values.
As a result, food producers are under pressure to use materials in their food packaging, including labels, that achieve these goals. And although some food label converters have been slow to adopt new or different practices, those that have been quick to respond are reaping the benefits.
For food label converters, going green can be good for business. Not only does it show they are committed to production processes that keep the environment in mind, there’s also the potential to increase cost efficiencies as new solutions emerge on the market. Digital tools that support goals for reducing waste production and energy consumption are also becoming more standard practice.
#3: Food label converters will require more automation
In the past, food label converters have relied heavily on manual processes, which can be time-consuming and costly. But as food product manufacturers require shorter lead times and more flexibility, food label converters will need to automate their operations to keep up.
Fortunately, several digital tools are available that can help food label converters automate their workflows. For example, using prepress workflow automation can help speed up other labor- and time-consuming prepress tasks. Advanced automation can also minimize the labor required to monitor and maintain production by eliminating manual tasks associated with these processes.
Converters, make flexibility your competitive advantage
Despite some permanence of these trends, food label converters should be prepared for additional changes. For example, expect a gradual shift back to institutional food production as foodservice outlets begin drawing consumers again. Converters who have built-in flexibility within their operations will be in a better position to succeed, no matter what their food brand customers require.
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