Food Labels: Regulations and design characterize one of the most prominent labeling applications.

Author:Hrinya, Greg

Food is a necessity. From snacks to bigger ticket items like steak and fish, food labels and packaging are all around us. A walk through the local grocery store could mean thousands of product interactions.

There are many factors that dictate a good food label. Not only must the label jump off the shelf--a very crowded shelf--but it also must convey a host of nutrition facts, cooking instructions and ingredients. Additionally, the packaging must remain safe when interacting with the food product. Substrates, adhesives and inks are all paramount, as the slightest mistake could result in a major lawsuit and damage to a brand's reputation.

"When it comes to 'popping off the shelf,' it is all about communicating the brand's story, as well as capturing the consumer's attention," explains Alex Kidd, creative design manager, Avery Dennison. "This is unique for every industry, as well as each brand. Brands that have a strong identity and use color, typography and form within the packaging often times will pop off the shelf."

Similar to the wine and beverage markets, Avery Dennison has seen more food brands explore packaging design and alternative materials that help products stand out in a retail environment.

UPM Raflatac emphasizes label shape as a critical element of brand messaging. "One part of the appearance is designing the shape of the label with which you can play with, highlighting parts of your message or adding foodstuff visibility to stand out at the retailers' shelves," notes Pascal Oliveira, director of global business development, Food, UPM Raflatac. "One solution to maximize shelf visibility and branding area on food packaging is to use D-shape full wrap PS labels."

At Hub Labels, president Thomas Dahbura has noticed foils as a key differentiator on the shelf. Dahbura will frequently embark on grocery store field trips to analyze the shelves, and observe what's new and what works. "Labels needs to be more than a billboard in today's competitive environment," he says."They can be dynamic--meaning they can change often if the package isn't making sales. They can be interactive, too. I call it portals to other information, whether its education or entertainment.

"They say you have eight seconds to catch someone's attention as they're walking down the aisle," Dahbura adds. "The only thing that will grab someone's attention is foil. I swear, it works."

Papers and films are both used in the food space, with prime films emerging as a popular choice. Films are advantageous for those companies seeking clear-on-clear or no-label looks on their products. Avery Dennison has identified paper as a popular material for meal kits...

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