First fully automated WVTR testing system for packaging debuts

First fully automated WVTR testing system for packaging debuts

The PERMATRAN-W Model 3/34 G from MOCON Inc. is the first fully-automated water vapor transmission rate (WVTR) testing system for packaging and other barrier structures. It is appropriate for use by food, pharmaceutical, beverage, medical device, electronics companies and converters, among others.

In automatic mode, The PERMATRAN-W Model 3/34 allows the operator to:

  1. Mount a test film;
  2. Set the temperature/relative humidity conditions and begin the test.

Four National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) calibration films are stored and a calibration curve is generated across the entire range with the system’s TotalCal feature. MOCON claims that the use of TotalCal assures an error-free and accurate result every time. 

Additional features:

  • Easy-to-use touchscreen;
  • Automatic maintenance of temperature, relative humidity, flow and pressure;
  • Ability to run 10 sequential tests with one set up;
  • GO button eliminates need to enter the same conditions when repeating a test;
  • Larger water reservoirs allow tests to be conducted overnight/weekends without an operator.

The Top 5 packaging blockbusters of summer

The Top 5 packaging blockbusters of summer

Which blockbuster packaging articles were the ones your industry peers clicked on most these past three months? This image provides a spoiler of the #1 article that tops the list of the 5 Hottest Articles at through summer’s run that ended last week.

Summer is gone and fall is here. We all knew it was coming including through the indicators we’ve been noticing these past days ranging from school starting to cooler weather to shorter days to a noticeable change in leaf color at least through the upper half of the U.S.

However, the most precise sign was the autumnal equinox on Sept. 23, ending summer’s 3-month reign that began on June 21 with the summer solstice. Those dates comprise the period for our analysis of’s Top 5 Summer articles, as measured by PageView analytics. Most of these articles fell into the perennially popular Packaging Design segment, but you can see for yourself as we present them in reverse order:

5. Is 100% recyclable flexible packaging possible?

While sustainable packaging is a great talking point for the flexible packaging sector, there is still progress to be made to be entirely environmentally responsible. To any consumer, recycling plastics is the answer. states that recycling plastics uses 80% less energy than what it takes to create new plastic containers or bottles. But is recycling the only answer to environmental consciousness? Is it applicable to flexible packaging?

Click here to read the article.

4. 5 astonishing new facts about packaging

Every so often, I see info about the packaging industry that makes me go, “Whoa!” Like these recent growth stats: Incredibly, the contract packaging business has more than doubled since 2008—even through the Great Recession—according to the Third Edition of The State of the Contract Packaging Industry report conducted by independent research firm SAI Industrial LLC on behalf of the Contract Packaging Assn. Consistent demand for their services, and a healthy profit margin in 2013 (26% to 31% on average), contributed to the exponential growth.

Click here to read the other 4 astonishing facts about packaging.

3. Niagara Bottling roars past lightweighting obstacles

Automated systems permit the private-label bottler to tighten packaging tolerances by 10% to 15% in a light-weighting initiative driven by cost-cutting and sustainability goals.

Click here to read the article.

 2. 5 emerging packaging design trends for 2014

Tetra Pak identifies five important, emergent trends in the food and beverage industry that savvy brands are injecting into their packaging to appeal to consumers.

Click here to read the article

1. Craft beer brews up label innovation

We toast your choice of the No.1 article for summer 2014 at With craft beer continuing to rise in popularity as sales are up 110%, according to a recent report by Mintel, we celebrate the phenomenon by capturing several exciting label designs that standout on the shelves due to an influx of imaginative and original beer label designs in this slideshow gallery.

Click here to read the article.

Pasta maker installs a custom, 3-applicator labeler

Pasta maker installs a custom, 3-applicator labeler
As many as two top labels and one bottom label can be printed and/or applied by the 3-applicator system to either trays (shown) or bags.

RP’s Pasta Co., Madison, WI, (see the main feature Pasta packaging perfected in two dimensions) had been hand labeling its pasta thermoformed tray packs prior to the spring 2014 installation of a custom, three-applicator print-and-apply labeling system from ID Technology (IDT), a division of Pro Mach.

The decision for the upgrade was simple, according to CEO Peter Robertson: “For every one person I had on the front end of the line making pasta, I needed one person on the back end to label the package.”

When he needed to expand again earlier this year, he decided that his modest company’s rapid growth finally outstripped doubling the number of operators and that it made more sense to automate the operation. 

The upgrade also coincides with a move to preprinted labels; while RP’s had been self-printing its labels, it has plans to print product information and production data, as well as a use-by date, online to the preprinted label using this system. It currently prints the variable information using an offline printer and applies the labels using the IDT system.

Positioned perpendicular to the horizontal semi-rigid tray thermoformer, the customized labeling system includes three Citronix continuous inkjet coders each paired with an IDT ST1000 applicator that’s capable of 1,000 inches of web per minute.

A brightly lit, touchscreen display offers a complete and easy user interface. A change in background color from green to orange to red provides highly visible applicator status.

As many as two top labels and one bottom label can be printed and/or applied. RP’s applies 4-inch square top and bottom labels to its 9-oz trays. “With all that label area, we have cooking and handling instructions with the UPC code; the other label is the Nutrition Facts and recipe suggestions—so we’re able to offer a lot of information,” Robertson says.

Harbo Label provides the bulk of RP’s preprinted labels.

IDT says this system can label 60 packs per minute, though RP’s runs at 20 to 30 packs per minute.

Robertson says the application is not a tamp device, but a dispensing sweep of a small brush. “It’s a clean, efficient application,” he states. “The entire system arrived so well designed that there really wasn’t any learning curve other than making the settings on the applicators.”

The system is equipped with “hugger belts” on each side that can be adjusted for the pack style and size. They grip and transport the packs past the label applicators. “The rubber belts have a slightly tacky surface,” Robertson points out. “We can have the option of orienting the package either lengthwise or cross-wise by a simple adjustment of the distance between the belts.”

The belts are driven by a pair of Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 4 variable-frequency drives from Rockwell Automation. Each applicator head is microprocessor controlled.

“We were able to essentially triple the output with that one machine without adding any more people,” says Robertson. “It’s a great, highly accurate unit.”

RP’s was assisted by IDT area sales manager Rob Manak. “Rob understood exactly what we needed to do and came up with an arrangement that was amazingly good for our packaging,” says Robertson. “Now we have one basic background-preprinted label and then overprint with the information per the specific item.”

This summer, Robertson unveiled his new preprinted label design, which is Generation 3. Robertson explains the label has progressed from Gen 1, a simple oval logo designed by a friend, to Gen 2, which was done by his designer brother nearly eight years ago. Gen 3 features a red banner across the top as the corporate indicator, a white banner across the middle and a product line color scheme below: yellow for the traditional wheat pasta and green for the gluten-free products.

Harbro Label, 630-593-5900

Justifying a New Stretch Wrapper Can Be Easy Even in Tough Times

Is the amount of load damage going up with the age of your stretch wrap equipment? Having trouble keeping up with production and the increasing number of SKUs and load configurations? It’s important to consider what type of stretch wrapper is best suited for your specific application. Think about the size, weight and variability of the loads you will be wrapping.

  • Greater efficiency, safety & up to 30% film savings
  • Minimal maintenance & built-in safety mechanisms
  • Superior training, service & support

Download for Your Free White Paper Today!

8 coding systems fulfill needs of various applications

8 coding systems fulfill needs of various applications
DataMan 8600 handheld direct part mark (DPM) bar code readers from Cognex take on the most challenging DPM codes on a range of materials and surfaces. These readers feature a rugged industrial design built for harsh work environments and provide optimum reading performance for manufacturers implementing part traceability programs across various industries.Pack Expo Booth #S-2770

Are you looking for new coding equipment for your packaging operation? Check out these eight systems that will be on display at the upcoming Pack Expo International 2014 show (Nov. 2-5, McCormick Place, Chicago). From inkjet to direct marking, these machines address the identification needs of various markets and applications.

1. DataMan 8600 handheld direct part mark (DPM) bar code readers from Cognex Corp., Pack Expo Booth #S-2770

2. Redcube printing, marking and coding system from HAPA USA, 973-983-2700973-983-2700, Pack Expo Booth #S-2501c

3. RX Series continuous inkjet printer from Hitachi America Ltd., Pack Expo Booth #N-6242

4. Optimizer KR-Universal on-demand printer from Iconotech, Pack Expo Booth #E-8030

5. JET2neoS model inkjet coders from Leibinger, Pack Expo Booth #N-6309

6. Model 1050 thermal inkjet printer from Markem-Imaje Corp., Pack Expo Booth #S-2814

7. S84-ex and S86-ex print engines from SATO America Inc., Pack Expo Booth #E-8044

8. CoPilot high-resolution inkjet printer from Squid Ink, Pack Expo Booth #S-2875

8 coding systems fulfill needs of various applications: Gallery

DataMan 8600 handheld direct part mark (DPM) bar code readers from Cognex take on the most challenging DPM codes on a range of materials and surfaces. These readers feature a rugged industrial design built for harsh work environments and provide optimum reading performance for manufacturers implementing part traceability programs across various industries.Pack Expo Booth #S-2770

Are you looking for new coding equipment for your packaging operation? Check out these eight systems that will be on display at the upcoming Pack Expo International show (Nov. 2-5, McCormick Place, Chicago). From inkjet to direct marking, these machines address the identification needs of various markets and applications.

Butterball's butter sculpture breaks the mold in design

Butterball's butter sculpture breaks the mold in design
Butterball Farms' Butter Sculptures is an IoPP AmeriStar award winner for 2014.

Back in April, The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), one of the most prestigious packaging awards competition in North America, announced the winners of the 2014 AmeriStar Package Awards Competition.

Judges assessed and scrutinized packages from 13 categories in a new online, virtual judging process back in April. Criteria included package innovation, sustainability, protection, economics, performance and marketing.

Top AmeriStar winners included the Best of Show Award, the Sustainable Package Award and the Design Excellence Award. Winners were honored at the AmeriStar and Visionary Awards Reception on June 10 during EastPack in New York City.

This year's Design Excellence Award winner went to Display Pack's packaging design for the Butterball Farms Butter Sculptures packaging. As a winner, Display Pack's design will be automatically eligible for entry to the World Packaging Organization's WorldStar Packaging Awards.

Butterball Farms looked to Display Pack for a solution to its butter sculptures, and what they got was an innovative and appealing design—a package that is also a mold for the butter sculpture. The packaging structure lets Butter Ball mold the butter directly into the clamshell, process the product, and then place the clamshell in a die-cut, un-windowed carton. The molded butter is encased in the clamshell from the time it is molded until the clamshell is opened to serve the butter.

Packaging Digest caught up with Andrew Blackmore, dir. of sales and marketing, Display Pack, to find out more about this innovative packaging design.

What makes this package so unique?

Blackmore: As far as I know, there are very few thermoformed plastic packages that are an actual mold for the finished product. The ability for this mold to contain a “liquid” product during the filling process is also unique.

How did the design come about?

Blackmore: Collaboration with our customer was the key component throughout the process from concept to final design. Our customer defined three critical areas that they wanted to address with their new packaging:

  1. Ease in the manufacturing process
  2. Cost reduction
  3. Proper definition in the butter sculpture      

The customer’s previous package was a windowed paperboard carton with an insert which was the base for a mechanically formed butter sculpture. Once the product was formed it was placed on the base in the carton, handling and shifting in the package could diminish the features of the sculpture.

Butterball was looking for a package that would reduce manufacturing time. The package needed to still give detail and support to the butter structure. The previous package was a windowed paperboard carton that held the sculptures by the base only. The previous package allowed the sculpture to lose definition and easily shift in the package.

What were the key goals and requirements from a marketing view?

Blackmore: Again, there were three critical areas (key goals) that our customer defined, but two were directly related to the marketing of the product.  Additional requirements had to do with size of package and artwork.  

Beyond the goal to reduce manufacturing time, the new package needed to provide the same detail and support of the sculpture. The pleasant surprise was that this package not only reduced the manufacturing time, it also provided greater sculpture detail and provided for complete product support within the paperboard carton. The clamshell also offers easy access to the butter, by pulling the clamshell open.

From a packaging view?

Blackmore: The clamshell needed to act as the forming mold for the butter. The butter is heated to a moderate temperature and then poured directly into the clamshell. No need to handle the butter sculpture after forming, the clamshell gets packaged right into the paperboard carton. The clamshell provided protection of the butter allowing the elimination of the acetate window that was originally placed on the carton.

What challenges were encountered from a packaging production standpoint and how were they solved?

Blackmore: The challenges encountered throughout the design and prototype process were to create a package that would be able to contain the liquid butter without leakage between the mating surfaces of the clamshell. These challenges were addressed through robust button locks as well as adjusting the geometry of the mating surfaces to create a tight seal with minimal flash between the halves of the clamshell.

We ran into some challenges with the proper snap closures, we needed to make adjustments to the button locks for a robust closure. We needed a robust closure because the butter is poured directly into the clamshell and the clamshell is then packed into a paperboard carton, with the butter still in the clamshell mold.

Which of these were anticipated and which were not?

Blackmore: We were confident that the clamshell design would hold up to direct pouring of the butter and it was. We had a few tweaks that needed to be made once we got into production, but they were minor.

Were there any other unexpected results and/or pleasant surprises?

Blackmore: Our customer is a co-packer for this product. The feedback from their customer was very favorable. They were excited to get these new packages out to the market. 

Survival kits provide SOS to non-profit business

Survival kits provide SOS to non-profit business
Multiple kits are assembled at the same time. The visually impaired worker raises the lids only on the bins holding products that go into the specifc kit they are assembling, making it easier to know what products to pack.

An expanded kit assembly operation brightens retail market sales for Lighthouse for the Blind-St. Louis, helping augment its government contracts.

Faced with diminished business from its government customers, the Lighthouse for the Blind-St. Louis recently invested in new retail business. In February 2014, the non-profit company bought the Quake Kare line of ER Emergency Ready Disaster Preparedness kits, which transformed its packaging into a more dynamic kitting operation, with new elements of customization and direct-to-consumer shipping—trends that challenge the packaging operations of many brand owners today.

Kit assembly was already a core competency for the Lighthouse, also known as LHB Industries. Since 1933, LHB has manufactured, assembled, warehoused and sold a variety of medical and chemical products to customers as varied as schools, hospitals, the military and government agencies. The majority of its business is product manufacturing, at 68%. But contract packaging, which also includes some kitting, represents a healthy chunk at 25%. Medical kitting is 6% and sterilization is 1% of its total business.

LHB is one of more than 100 non-profit agencies in the U.S. that “share a mission to provide employment opportunities and support services for people who are visually impaired or blind,” explains Brittney Smithers, LHB marketing manager. “Each agency operates autonomously, but is an affiliate of National Industries for the Blind, a nationwide organization that focuses on enhancing opportunities for economic and personal independence of persons who are blind. Associated NIB non-profit agencies serve as the largest employer of people who are blind by the sale of Skilcraft branded products to federal customers.”

The Skilcraft brand name appears on more than 3,000 products, including office supplies, janitorial equipment, uniforms and hospital supplies. In 2013, government and military sales represented 80% of the company’s business. By second quarter 2014, that percentage had dipped to 72%, primarily due to the drawdown in troops and the government sequestration.

LHB saw the dip coming. The new Quake Kare product line was a strategic acquisition designed to generate revenue to support the company’s programs for people who are legally blind. “We viewed this asset acquisition as a valuable opportunity to further expand LHB’s kitting operations, thus providing additional employment for people who are blind or legally blind in St. Louis,” Smithers says. “Profits from the product line will also provide much needed income to support our 15 community outreach programs serving hundreds of children and adults who are visually impaired in Missouri and Southwestern Illinois.”

Custom differences

After the acquisition, LHB moved the Quake Kare manufacturing and packaging operations from a Los Angeles suburb to LHB’s Overland, MO, plant near St. Louis. LHB operates two manufacturing plants in the St. Louis area located in Berkeley and Overland.

Brian Houser, director of sales and marketing, describes how LHB’s business has changed dramatically since the Quake Kare acquisition. “We went from a medical and kitting packager that did business exclusively with the government and commercial companies to a company that now markets and sells directly to the consumer, as well as,” he says. “These markets were completely new to us and we had to make some adjustments to our normal operating procedures to accommodate the demand and purchasing patterns. The government and commercial markets build in lead time for their ordering and delivery of products. Consumers and orders, on the other hand, demand immediate attention and have the mind set of ‘I want my kit now!’ We learned early on that there was a tremendous sense of urgency in the disaster preparedness kitting business and we had to adjust quickly.”

The Quake Kare product line consists of survival kits such as earthquake, tornado and hurricane preparedness kits, as well as emergency kits for home, office, school, car and boat. But consumers are individuals and are now used to finding and buying exactly what they want online. “We found out early on that there is a high demand for ‘custom’ orders and kits that require a fulfillment type of operation, which was not one of our core competencies,” Houser says. “Some of our customers are requesting custom-packed kits with special or supplemental supplies to accommodate the specific needs for their family or school, including many people heading back to school.”

In August 2014, the company began offering customized kits from its stock of emergency preparedness supplies. These built-to-order kits complement the company’s choice of more than 100 survival kits.

Custom and stock kits are packed and sealed in an assortment of carrying cases designed for specific needs, including portable backpacks, convenient and easy-to-store fanny and cooler packs, or a 5-gallon bucket, supplied by C.L. Smith Industrial Co., a local St. Louis manufacturer. The bucket protects the contents from water leakage and can be stored indoors or outside. With an optional snap-on seat lid, an empty bucket can also function as a toilet in emergency situations.

After the acquisition, LHB switched to local packaging suppliers to get faster delivery, better service and, in many cases, lower costs, according to Houser.

A kit contains items such as non-perishable food, water, first aid materials, hand-crank power radios, light sticks, candles, waterproof matches, ponchos, multi-purpose knives, portable toilets, blankets, tissue packs and emergency tents.

“The only change we made was switching from Boxed ER Emergency Water to pouched water because the boxed water was becoming obsolete. We’ve left everything else as is to understand the industry better and learn hands-on about each kit and its relevance to the marketplace,” Houser says. “We have, however, added a Tornado/Hurricane Survival Kit to the product mix.”

John Thompson, president of LHB, says, “In addition to corporate and organizational emergency preparedness markets, we will market to special interest groups such as survivalists, outdoorsmen, adventure seekers and travelers.”

Fulfilling operation

Setting up manufacturing operations in the Overland plant required a modest equipment investment. Clint Cruse, LHB vp of manufacturing, says, “We augmented our packaging line and warehouse operations with new equipment to streamline order fulfillment, and engaged a consulting process engineer to assist in retrofitting our headquarters plant in Overland, MO, to handle our expanded ‘just-in-time’ product packaging operations.”

LHB set up an assembly line type of operation that includes roller conveyors that enable kits to move easily from place to place during assembly. Clearly marked bins hold kit components; the most common of these are positioned close together to minimize the need for movement. Houser adds, “Multiple shelves were added to the warehouse to accommodate Quake Kare inventory and there is now a workflow for building kits and handing fulfillment orders.”

Multiple kits are assembled at the same time. Houser explains the operation: Kit components are in bins with lids that identify what is in the bin. When a kit is produced, only the bin lids of the items that go in those specific kits are removed by the visually impaired kitter so that they know what products go into each kit they are building. A bill of materials is provided for each kit so that the kitter knows what and how many go into each kit. Depending on the level of sight, the kitter, who is legally blind, may need the assistance of a CCTV or portable magnifier to view the bill of materials.

Assembled kits typically move into the warehouse for inventory, though custom kits or kits in high demand go directly to shipping.

LHB controls all orders through Microsoft Dynamics NAV software. Shipping labels are generated through UPS Worldship for small parcels or Corelogic for freight shipments. Houser says managing two different supply chains (direct-to-consumers and pallet-load shipments) in the same facility presents no issues. “While there are multiple supply chains, all orders are handled the same, regardless of the end user or customer,” Houser says.

Adapting to conditions

The Quake Kare business has added several new elements to LHB’s operations. “Keeping in mind that the majority of our employees are visually impaired,” Houser says, “you can imagine the learning curve for all involved. While many think that a person who is visually impaired is a liability when it comes to any type of work, we do not. With proper training and adaptive technology—such as magnifiers, CCTVs, JAWS, a computer screen reader program, and Zoomtext—a person who is visually impaired can easily become a productive employee.”

New employees learn how to navigate throughout the building and grounds by shadowing a blind veteran employee. Houser says, “Much time and effort is spent with mobility training prior to each employee navigating on their own.”

Employee training has been complemented with process improvements and other adaptations.

“A challenge we face is how to make a job that is typically setup for a sighted individual and make it accessible for a blind person to perform,” Houser says.

For example, Carlo Basile, quality control/project supervisor, itemizes how LHB has adapted the equipment and environment to ensure worker safety and ease of operation at the organization’s Trenton medical kitting plant:

•Cameras were installed on the labeling machines so a legally blind person can see inside the machine to place the labels in the correct spot, as well as see misalignment, damage or other issues;

•Machine guarding safety rails have been added or upgraded;

•The Multivac packaging system was retrofitted for tool-less changeover. Bolts were replaced with hand knobs so employees who are visually impaired can change vacuum molds, sealing plates, punches and package cutters without using wrenches;

•High-contrast lighting in the Multivac filling stations allows employees who are visually impaired to detect the edges of the pouches for more exact loading of product;

•A “talking scale” for weigh counting materials enables employees who are legally blind to hear weight and count information rather than relying on a digital screen;

•A portable closed-circuit TV system enlarges printed material for visually impaired employees so they can better see work instructions. In addition, LHB collaborated with a computer interface company for more than a year to develop a program that allowed the liquid-fill department manager, an individual with limited sight, to be able to set up the machine from a CCTV screen instead of the machine’s LED screen. The CCTV allows the manager to increase the programmable logic controls size 10 fold, thus allowing him to be able to comfortably read the screen and control the output for any liquid product manufactured;

•Assembly line tools and fixtures have touch-sensitive centerlines and alignment features for the visually impaired;

•Windows installed near the ceiling add natural light to the area to help the workers have better visual acuity. And high-intensity lights are used where necessary to show contrast and better visual acuity by the workers; and

•All aisles and exits to the building are installed with grid plate materials for visually impaired employees to feel with their canes and feet to safely find their way throughout the plant.

Safety is paramount

Lighthouse has gone six years without a loss-time incident, defined as a work-related injury that requires a missed work day.

Scott Lemmons, LHB’s environmental, health and safety manager, says, “Many factors have contributed to this success. First and foremost is a true and sincere commitment to ensuring that safety is our top priority. This commitment starts at the board of directors and permeates the entire organization and our culture.

“Additionally, we have a good working business relationship with our occupational medical provider,” Lemmons continues. “They have visited our locations, and are aware of our typical operations and our adherence to their recommendations. They feel comfortable with ‘prescribing’ restrictions rather than days away from work. Our relationship with them is truly a partnership; we will send employees for evaluation when it is not 100% certain if an injury warrants involvement of medical professionals. They are prudent in their selection of appropriate treatment.

“Also our workforce is second to none in their desire to perform an assigned task in the safest method possible,” Lemmons adds. “If they have questions or concerns, they feel comfortable asking beforehand rather than putting themselves in jeopardy.”

Planning for growth

LHB’s new Quake Kare business is adding to the bottom line. A total of 84 employees work at the organization’s two manufacturing locations in Missouri, and 43 of them are legally blind. According to Karen Nelson, LHB’s human resources director, as a result of the acquisition, “We have been able to hire one additional employee who is legally blind. We anticipate the addition of several more as business grows through the rest of the year.”

LHB president Thompson expects that the new product line will add $2 to $3 million to the agency’s revenue in 2014, with annual increases thereafter.

“The acquisition has brought new energy into the facility and has facilitated tremendous teamwork and commitment,” Houser says. “From the president on down to our blind community enrichment manager, all levels have been on the floor building kits and picking orders. It’s been a fun addition.”

What are the benefits of hiring people who are legally blind?

Brian Houser, director of sales and marketing at Lighthouse for the Blind-St. Louis, answers:

“More than 70% of blind people are unemployed. By giving them a job, they appear to be more devoted employees as they are so thankful for the opportunity to have a job, as well as to be considered an asset to an organization. There is very little absenteeism and employee turnover is virtually nonexistent.

“In addition, by employing blind individuals, we are taking a ‘tax taker’ and turning them into a ‘tax payer.’

“National Industries for the Blind conducted an extensive analysis of this very subject and determined that, for every dollar the federal government spends on supplies and services through a blind agency such as the Lighthouse, $3.33 is returned to the Federal government via decreased transfer payments (such as Medicaid and Social Security) and increased income and FICA taxes, thereby saving taxpayers money while fulfilling an important social mission.”

5 shifts in shopper attitudes and behaviors

5 shifts in shopper attitudes and behaviors

Five major shifts in how U.S. consumers feel and act are revealed in the U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends 2014 report and shown in the infographic:

1. Consumers are taking advantage of options in where they can shop, even though grocery stores remain the main destination. Do you create packages for non-traditional outlets?

2. Women are still the “primary shopper” but men are sharing this role more and more. How do your packaging designs appeal to both genders?

3. How consumers prepare to shop varies according to age, with Boomers planning ahead and stocking their pantries. Millennials typically decide more on-the-fly, shopping to buy a meal.

4. Because consumers are more focused on wellness, fresh rather than processed foods take center stage.

5. Shoppers trust retailers when it comes to food safety and see them as an ally.

Released in June 2014, the research was conducted by the Food Marketing Institute in partnership with The Hartman Group. The report is available for $100 for non-members of FMI. It is free for FMI members. Visit to order a copy, as well as to view a three-minute video of highlights.

Printing ink ordinance may become de facto European standard

The German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) has published the fifth draft of its proposed ordinance to regulate printing inks used in food packaging materials. Officially known as the "Twenty-first ordinance amending the Consumer Goods Ordinance," the proposal sets out a positive list of substances that may be used in the manufacture of printing inks for food-contact materials, along with specific migration limits.

Substances on the positive list include monomers and other raw materials, such as dyes, solvents and photoinitiators. The draft ordinance specifies that only substances for which a risk assessment or appropriate and sufficient toxicological data are available may be included on the positive list.

Printing inks are not the subject of a harmonized directive or regulation at the European Union (EU) level, although they are subject to the general requirements of the EU Framework Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 and Good Manufacturing Practice Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006, as are all materials used in food packaging. As a consequence, the use of printing inks is subject to regulation in accordance with the national laws of each Member State. Most Member States, however, do not have any specific provisions regulating printing inks as a whole. Thus, the German ordinance, when effective, is likely to be the de facto standard for the use of printing inks throughout Europe.

The inclusion of materials in nano form is specifically addressed in the draft ordinance, which states that substances in the form of nanomaterials may only be used in printing inks if they are explicitly listed on the positive list. Nanomaterials are defined as materials that:

  • Are of natural origin and accumulate during the manufacturing process or are deliberately manufactured;
  • Contain particles in a free state as an aggregate or as an agglomerate; and
  • Where at least 50% of the particles, relative to the number and size distribution, exhibit one or more dimensions in the range from 1 to 100 nanometers.

In addition to the substances on the Printing Ink Ordinance’s positive list, monomers and additives on the positive list in the Plastics Regulation, (EU) No. 10/2011, also may be used in printing inks. Importantly, BMELV has acknowledged that the positive list in the draft ordinance is incomplete and, therefore, will undergo continuous updating prior to the ordinance becoming effective, according to an update on the draft ordinance on the European Printing Inks Association’s (EuPIA) website.

The draft ordinance applies to printing inks on packaging that directly contacts food as well as printing inks used on the non-food contact side of the packaging. In this latter case, the inks may contain substances other than those on the positive list, if those substances are not classified as “mutagenic,” “carcinogenic” or “reproductive-toxins.” Further, these ink components should be found not to migrate to food using an analytical method sensitive to 0.01 milligram per kilogram of food.

A Declaration of Compliance will be required for the printed food-contact material, the printing ink and the substances intended to be used in the manufacture of the printing ink.

BMELV allowed only a short window for comments. No date has been specified for publication of the final ordinance.

Author George Misko is a partner at Keller and Heckman. Founded in 1962, the respected law firm has a broad practice in the areas of regulatory law, litigation and business transactions, serving both domestic and international clients. Reach him at