FSMA pushes beverage manufacturers to embrace digital printing

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers are looking to engage with products beyond the physical label through digital printing capabilities. ©GettyImages/DragonImages
Consumers are looking to engage with products beyond the physical label through digital printing capabilities. ©GettyImages/DragonImages

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US packaging machinery shipments within the beverage sector is forecasted to grow just over 2% over the next five years as small and medium sized manufacturers advance their digital and coding printing capabilities, according to the PMMI 2017 State of the Industry report.

The total value of US domestic shipments of packaging machinery was $7.73bn in 2016 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 2.2% to $8.8bn by 2022 with labeling and coding machinery among the fastest growing groups within as F&B manufacturers must comply with new standards under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA).

FSMA requires businesses to be able to identify, at minimum, the immediate supplier and recipient (other than retailers to consumers) of a product; resulting in increased investment in systems that support traceability so products can be traced from source material through the complete supply chain.

According to PMMI executive director, Jorge Izquierdo, it has become more economically feasible for smaller beverage manufacturers to implement digital printing driving overall growth.

“Digital printing is getting more accessible,”​ Izquierdo told BeverageDaily.

Packaging: More than just looks

The uptake of digital printing in the food and beverage sector has been heightened by the expanding variety of products available and the rise of ecommerce shopping, a platform where manufacturers face unique differentiation challenges.

“Traditionally, you need to design packaging so that when you’re in front of the shelf you can decide between ‘Product A’ or ‘Product B’; well that’s going to be largely based on how it looks,”​ Izquierdo said.

“The objectives of the label and the packaging on ecommerce are different,”​ Izquierdo said. “You’re losing control of the traditional way they buy the product, so you need to engage more with the consumer.”

Digital printing provides product individualization and a way to engage with consumers outside of the traditional retail environment by providing an added level of transparency.

Multiple touch points

Tetra Pak’s “Connected Consumer”​ report shows that the way a consumer engages with a product has shifted from a linear process to a more dynamic deep-dive experience with multiple touch points.

Digital codes printed on packages allow consumers to access information that goes beyond the physical label such as identifying ingredient and material sources giving beverage manufacturers a direct link to the customer and their consumption habits.

For example, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and Upcode recently collaborated on the launch of “digital beers” ​that feature embedded smart codes and sensors that give the consumer more detailed information about the beer such as its brewing process while establishing a direct line between the manufacturer and the consumer.

“The way we are going, every label, pretty much, will have a unique code and a unique identification,” ​Izquierdo said. 

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