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Articles from 2015 In September


Chobani debuts yogurt in pouches and tubes

Chobani debuts yogurt in pouches and tubes
Launch of 5 new product platform innovations (top) includes Chobani’s first use of flexible packaging and branding using iconic characters to resonate with tots and kids.

The new packaging formats are part of a salvo of new products from the brand owner that leverage the popularity of Greek yogurt in convenient, consumer-friendly flexible formats that also add iconic characters.

The yogurt and yogurt drink market in the U.S. and worldwide is dynamic and innovative. It’s driven in part by the popularity of Greek yogurt, which is credited with 50% of the sales in the category, according to a market report released in January. Interestingly, the report states that “Greek yogurt's ascendance has slowed, and the industry is looking for additional ways to keep the momentum going.”

That remark is perfectly timed for Chobani LLC’s salvo of new products launched in early 2015 that include the company’s entry into flexible packaging.

The lineup of new products that target new and existing consumers and eating occasions include Chobani Kids & Chobani Tots Greek Yogurt Pouches, Chobani Greek Yogurt Oats – Ancient Grain Blend and new Chobani Flip Creations. According to the company, five new platform innovations in total debuted on store shelves in January. While the shelf life varies by product and size, Chobani says that the average shelf life is approximately three weeks.

Packaging Digest asked Chobani to respond to our questions about the products and the packaging, which provide benefits for consumers and retailers.

What are the highlights to these launches?

Chobani: The January 2015 release of Chobani’s major portfolio expansion serves to continue the brand’s category leadership and deliver on its mission to provide better food for more people.

The inclusion of pouch packaging technology is a first for the brand, providing ultimate freshness, taste and convenience for both parents and their kids.

Additionally, Chobani introduced form-fill-seal packaging technology for the core product line, offering 4-packs that deliver a highly efficient stocking solution for retailers.

Please comment further on the key product and packaging aspects.  

Chobani: Chobani Tots Greek Yogurt pouches are designed for babies beginning at six months. Chobani Tots Greek Yogurt is blended with real fruit and vegetables and contains no artificial ingredients, flavors or colors and has less than 5% lactose per serving. The packaging is BPA [bisphenol-A]-free. Flavors include banana pumpkin and mango spinach. The 3.5oz pouch sells for $1.49 and is priced at $4.99 for a 4-pack.

The new Chobani Kids Greek Yogurt pouches are a natural choice for kids age 2 years and older. They have 25% less sugar than the leading kids’ yogurt and are a good source of protein and calcium. The Chobani Kids Pouches come in three varieties, strawberry, grape and vanilla & chocolate dust. Size and pricing is the same as for the Tots pouches.

Chobani Kids Tubes are available in five flavorful varieties: strawberry, banana, vanilla & chocolate dust, watermelon and grape.

For the first time in Chobani brand history, Chobani Kids and Chobani Tots Greek Yogurt Pouches prominently feature iconic Disney and Marvel characters such as Winnie the Pooh and Spider-Man on packaging. Additional characters including Doc McStuffins will launch in summer 2015.

Was there any new packaging machinery involved to help support these new products?

Chobani: Chobani made a significant investment in new machinery for Chobani Tots and Chobani Kids Greek Yogurt pouches, Chobani Flip Creations and in form-fill-seal systems for the brand’s core product line. Chobani Greek Yogurt products are made and packaged in Twin Falls, ID and South Edmeston, NY.

Vertical bagger makes Doyen-style pouches in a much smaller footprint

Vertical bagger makes Doyen-style pouches in a much smaller footprint
Close-up shows how the zipper material is added to the Doyen-style pouch on this vertical form-fill-sealer. The fin seal is at front of the forming tube and bottom gussets are already formed on the back side. Horizontal sealing creates the bag's sides.

Stand-up pouches with reclosable zippers have become more and more popular in recent years. Traditionally these have been made on horizontal pouch machines. Bosch Packaging has turned this concept on end.

At first glance, the Model SVE252 from Bosch Packaging, aka the Doy Zip bagger, looks like a typical vertical form-fill-seal (VFFS) bagger, and there are similarities in the material path and filling. The difference is that this one makes a true Doyen-style pouch with a zipper.

Advantages include speed (100 bags per minute) and reduced footprint (6 sq ft) when compared with a horizontal poucher.

Film is unrolled and formed over a special mandrel that also adds the V to the bottom for stand-up gussets. The film extends to the front of the mandrel, a zipper is fed between the seals and it is all welded together to form the "top" of the finished pouch. As the pouch pulls down, a horizontal bar seals the sides and cuts the pouches apart.

Bosch feels that this machine is so revolutionary that they have set up a dedicated website at www.doyzip.com.

Check it out at Pack Expo Las Vegas Booth C-2800.

Tell 'em the wizard sent you.

Known as the Changeover Wizard, John R. Henry is the owner of Changeover.com, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He has written the book, literally, on packaging machinery (www.packmachbook.com) and is the face and personality behind packaging detective KC Boxbottom, the main character in Adventures in Packaging, a popular blog on packagingdigest.com.

Case erector cuts set-up time by almost half

A new way of feeding and setting up cases on the 30 Series case erectors from Wexxar/Bel speeds up the process. What used to take about seven minutes can now be done in about four minutes.

Cases now are loaded horizontally in strapped bundles. Once the bundle is in queue in the magazine, the strap is easily removed. Case blanks are then fed on a belt from the bottom using gravity and, once clear from the stack, are stood up for vertical opening (just like before). See the system operate in the video clip above.

At Pack Expo Las Vegas (booth C-3123), national account manager Peter Zweber explained that case size changeovers are easy. You loosen the hand-cranks, slide the guides in (or out) until they touch the new case size and then tighten the handles back up. No tools needed.

Because the design uses gravity to help feed the cases, the system can handle a wider range of case styles and materials. Plastic cases, for example.

With this new feeding system, the overall machine footprint is a little bit wider and a little longer. The magazine section could also be extended to reduce the frequency of replenishing the case supply, but that would add a little bit more to the length of the machine.

In addition to easier case loading and faster set up, this new design eliminates any potential pressure problems with vertically loaded and stacked cases.

We also showed a solution to carton-feeding pressure problems from Kliklok-Woodman on its CertiWrap Elite system, which debutted at Pack Expo Las Vegas. The problem is the same—controlling material feeding pressure—but the solution was different and was for cartons rather than cases.

All-paper packaging for ecommerce avoids void fill

All-paper packaging for ecommerce avoids void fill
Vp Don Reggio shows off WestRock’s new all-paper ecommerce solution with an integrated kraft-paper protective insert.

This “smart ecommerce solution” is a case former that uses patented and patent-pending technology to form corrugated cases with an integrated kraft paper liner that eliminates void fill.

The growth and interest in ecommerce was evident at Pack Expo with a number of inventive solutions to make the process speedier and more efficient if not more sustainable. One of the most fascinating was found at the booth of WestRock and its latest member of the company’s Meta series of case-forming equipment, the Meta e.

The new Meta e relies system relies on the Meta series’ “precision mandrel” case forming operation using die-cut blanks with an added twist for ecommerce: An adhesive-strip coated kraft paper sleeve is cut inline from roll and affixed to the inside of the corrugated blank before the case is formed.  

The result is an all-paper, ecommerce-optimized case with a protective kraft insert that provides “blocking and bracing of primary product” without the need for void fill. The entire packaging is 100% recyclable in paper streams.

Don Reggio, vp of marketing, corrugated packaging solutions, says the system outputs 25 cases per minute. He says it will be field-tested soon and that they are “in conversations with a dozen” potential customers.

More about WestRock’s Meta systems can be found here.

Robotic case packing sans vacuum or pick-and-place

Robotic case packing sans vacuum or pick-and-place
SCARA robots load pouches into retail-ready cases without vacuum or pick-and-place operations.

The new TriVex SL case packing system debuting at Pack Expo offers a revolutionary simpler way to robotically load pouches into cases without the use of vacuum cups or any pick-and-place operation.

The TriVex SL system combines the functions collation and loading into a single, integrated operation using a pair of SCARA robots. The controls programming is also simpler: Run by Rockwell Automation ControlLogix, it does away with dedicated robotic programming. The robots’ end effectors are the loading box.  It is optimized for pouches, bags and cartons in a standup configuration. Douglas Machine’s Steve Lipps, vp sales and marketing, says the system can output 25 retail-ready display cases/min.

‘Waterfall’ carton feeder solves pressure problems

‘Waterfall’ carton feeder solves pressure problems
This carton feeder controls the pressure in a unique way so you can extend the carton magazine and minimize the frequency of carton blank loading without dropping a lot of cartons.

Replenishing cartons on a high-speed carton erector can keep an operator busy. Sometimes too busy.

But if you extend the carton magazine to hold more cartons, the added weight pressing on the carton supply could cause cartons to be pushed out at the end before a reciprocating feeder can grab them and set them up properly.

A new “waterfall” design on the CertiWrap Elite cartoner from Kliklok-Woodman—announced at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2015 in Booth C-2603—makes sure that the pressure on carton blanks feeding into the machine is just right.

The design basically separates a small quantity of cartons at the end of the machine feeding area. The rest of the cartons on the magazine are pushed up until they drop down into this separate area…in a controlled waterfall action. The photo shows a close up of this feature on the machine.

Pack Expo Las Vegas is also the North American debut of the Elite cartoner.

Peer-to-peer advice helps packaging designers and engineers succeed

Peer-to-peer advice helps packaging designers and engineers succeed
Packaging leaders Michael Okoroafor (left), David France and Mary Gregg share their insights at the PhillyPack 2015 conference.

Packaging leaders from McCormick & Co., Kraft Foods, General Mills, ConAgra and more will share ideas, tips and their thoughts on future packaging trends and technologies at an intense one-day conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center during PhillyPack 2015 (Oct. 7-8; Philadelphia).

While the program is strong in the top packaging-consuming food and beverage markets (where a lot of innovation is happening), packaging professionals serving other markets will also benefit from hearing from these packaging industry thought-leaders.

Consumer trends and demographics, automation advances and alternative packaging materials are among the key topics on the agenda (view the full line-up here):

• Keynote Michael Okoroafor, vp, global packaging innovation, McCormick & Co. (left in the photo above), will talk about the best-performing packaging features that consumers value today. His insights come from an illustrious and productive career as a packaging executive at various consumer packaged goods companies, including The Coca-Cola Co. and H.J. Heinz (remember the revolutionary HeinzDip & Squeeze ketchup package?).

• Personalization on the plant floor? What’s that all about? Robotics experts from Fanuc and Schneider Packaging Equipment will explain how advancements in robots are driving down costs and shortening the time between concept and final product. You’ll also hear a case study on how one packaging operation achieved personalization and how it benefitted from it.

• Packaging developers and designers are constantly on the hunt for the next best packaging material innovations. Veritiv product development manager Michael Bashaw aims to show you some new materials for primary and secondary packages that address key concerns for barrier and sustainability.

Additionally, Packaging Digest Editorial Advisory Board members David France and Mary Gregg (shown in the center and right, respectively, in the image above), will participate in two different panel discussions:

France, packaging research fellow, ConAgra Foods Packaging R&I, will be one of three panelists talking about “Collaboration through the Entire Supply Chain to Drive Success & Cost-Effective Packaging Innovation,” along with supply chain and packaging experts from Chobani and Lutece BV.

Gregg, previously global director, next-generation packaging, research and development, Campbell Soup Co., and now an industry consultant, will join packaging executives from Kraft Foods and General Mills in a panel discussion on “Taking Intelligent Risks in Packaging Innovation & Design When Revitalizing or Introducing a Brand.” During the discussion, they’ll identify the packaging triggers that help drive trial and repeat purchase.

Expertly leading attendees through this dynamic program, moderator and conference chair Dan Balan will bring his own insights and energy to the content and discussions. A pioneer in business transformation, Balan is the head of Chicago consulting firm Fastraqq, and creator of The Packaging and Business Innovation Show and the Packaging 360 Leadership course that defines the next paradigm in packaging.

The learning opportunities expand beyond packaging, too. Other manufacturing- and design-related seminars taking place in Philadelphia at the same time include Innovations in 3D Printing, MD&M-Medical Device Innovation and MD&M-New Materials/MedTech Polymers.

These educational sessions enhance the immersion into packaging innovation at the PhillyPack 2015 event. You can also find solutions and inspiration from leading packaging suppliers exhibiting at the show.

New rigid containers showcase dairy and more

New rigid containers showcase dairy and more
There are clear differences in these and the other 3 packaging developments found at Process Expo.

A visit to Process Expo last week revealed a clearer pint for ice cream, a space-saving rectangular container and two fresh aseptic packaging developments that all raise impact at retail.

My first few steps into the north hall of McCormick Place, Chicago, at the International Dairy Show/ Process Expo last week uncovered a pair of major vendors that both offered a pair of packaging developments. It was a very encouraging start to what turned out to be a productive day.  Each of the foursome provided unique benefits for brand owners looking for optimized, differentiating packaging options for consumers.

My first booth visit was with Berry Plastics where Lauren Piekos, product marketing, rigid open top division, pointed me toward the company’s latest packaging that was clearly different, literally so. A new clarified, freezable grade of polypropylene resin molded into a tapered pint container (seen above) provided impressive shelf appeal for the virtual gelato inside. Piekos said that the new ultra-transparent containers had been launched in July.

In addition to high contact clarity, the new containers featured “Iconic” printing, Berry Plastic’s designation for a high-resolution European-based printing technology that the company has been using over the past 12 months. Described as an “indirect flexographic-printing method,” Iconic uses up to 7 colors and is more economical than in-mold labeling for container decoration, Piekos says. It is applicable to round and nonround containers on white, clear or colored substrates.

Piekos then led me to a development that aims to change the shape of dairy packaging…

Berry Plastic’s new Qubic space-saving rectangular containers are a sharp departure from round containers and are suitable for yogurt and a range of other dairy and deli products. Compare with rounds, they promise up to 25% more product on-shelf density, according to Berry Plastics.

Qubic containers are stackable and can be film-sealed. Adding to the visual impact are the containers’ impressively colorful Iconic printing, more fully realized when seen against the opaque white structure.

According to Piekos, Berry Plastics found in research that consumers felt the Qubic containers were more organized in the refrigerator when compared to rounds. She says the preprinted containers also offer a simplified production advantage over shrink-sleeved containers.

Qubic containers are available in 8-, 12-, 16-, 24- and 32-oz sizes in PP along with a standard lid.

Next up: Is it a bottle or a carton? Turns out it’s both….

 

Tetra Pak’s innovative packaging formats at Process Expo include the Tetra Evero Aseptic carton bottle (middle) for milk and the new DreamCap on a 500mL carton (right).

Coinciding with the first day of Process Expo, Tetra Pak announced it had received Food and Drug Administration approval for its Tetra Evero Aseptic–the first aseptic carton bottle for milk. Tetra Evero Aseptic combines the easy handling and pouring of a bottle with the environmental and cost advantages of a carton. The packaging was introduced in Europe four years ago.

But the company’s introductions aren’t always in a Europe-first priority: Tetra Pak also showcased a 500mL size on-the-go optimized DreamCap, a closure molded of high-density polyethylene specifically engineered to improve user comfort for on-the-go drinking. It is intended to be used on a Tetra Prisma Aseptic 500 Edge carton through its special face-friendly geometry. The reclosable 26mm closure, which is applied inline after filling and sealing, has a smooth base that extends over the side of the carton. This U.S. introduction is in advance of the global launch in early 2016.

Contract packager Jasper Products, Joplin, MO, has the only 500mL DreamCap line in the world, says Tetra Pak communications manager Larine Urbina. Jasper’s DreamCap customers include Nooma hydration drinks (above) and a nutritional beverage from Abbott.

"The combination of DreamCap on the 500-mL package is a great fit for our customers who want to produce a larger shelf-stable beverage for on-the-go consumption," said Ken Haubein, president of Jasper Products. Jasper's processing capabilities include juice, nectars, still drinks, dairy, dairy alternatives and more.

DreamCap is also available in a renewable bio-based version made from plastic sourced from sugarcane.

Small packs that talk big come to the aid of seniors

Small packs that talk big come to the aid of seniors
By using on-pack badges and call-outs, rather than small-font text, companies can efficiently communicate the differentiating features of their products to elderly consumers. Capitalized words on LiDestri’s Francesco Rinaldi label also aid in readability.

Designing packaging for elderly consumers can be a balancing act, with two of the most important design elements—text legibility and package size—at odds. The tension is especially noticeable in food, beverage, prescription-drug and over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical packaging.

Causing the conflict is the need for both small package sizes and on-pack text that older consumers can read, despite their diminished eyesight. Happily, this issue can be solved with a little creative thinking.

There are reasonable arguments for offering elderly consumers smaller food and beverage packages, including single-serving packs. Many of these consumers live alone or in smaller households than when they were younger. They also may be watching their portion sizes for health reasons.

Smaller food and beverage packs offer elderly consumers the advantages of portion control, convenience, freshness and reduced waste. However, the smaller the package, the smaller the canvas for product information and branding.

Prescription medications and OTC products, by their nature, usually require small packages. They also require federally regulated on-pack information, and often there is so much requisite information that a small font size must be used. However, if the type is too small for consumers to read, they may be putting their health at risk.

At the grocery store

One way around the small-font problem is to make photos, illustrations and other graphic elements do the talking.

For food and beverages, especially those positioned as better-for-you, “you’re seeing pictures of the fruit and vegetables that are contained in the product. Those images are very reassuring to people, and especially the elderly, knowing that there’s something in the product that’s good for them. And it’s not small type, which can be incredibly frustrating,” says Tony Bash, vp of sales-beverage at LiDestri Food and Beverage.

Bash adds that “badges” are another high-visibility way to communicate that a product is, for example, all-natural, kosher, low-fat or low-salt. Badges include trusted seals, such as the American Heart Association (AHA) Heart-Check mark and the USDA Organic seal. Badges can be used on a food or beverage package of any size.

A badge is “something apart from the nutrition panel, which is often difficult to read,” Bash says. “A badge can run along the bottom or top of a package or down a spine, and you can see at a glance that the product has two grams of sugar, it’s a 12-oz bottle, there’s no fat in it and it has the organic badge.”

Another tactic is to make the ingredients panel larger, he adds. “We are all doing that, in the food industry, but I think the use of badges and call-outs is a better way to do it for the elderly.”

LiDestri’s Francesco Rinaldi pasta sauce labels are printed with badges and call-outs that vary by stock-keeping unit (SKU). One of the labels sports a gluten-free badge, AHA Heart-Check mark and life’sDHA logo, plus call-outs flagging “Reduced Sodium,” “No Sugar Added” and “FORTIFIED with 32 mg DHA OMEGA 3 per serving.” Note the capitalized words, which draw shoppers’ attention and also make the call-out easy to read.

Bash will share his thoughts in a presentation, “Millennial and Aging Populations: Innovating for Essential Markets,” at PhillyPack this fall. His presentation will be on Oct. 7, 2015, from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m.

Prescriptions and OTC

A different approach is needed for prescription and OTC packaging that’s used by older consumers. In some cases, it may be enough to revamp font styling and sizes on these packages, or to add an expanded-content (peel-and-reseal or booklet) label to the bottle or vial. Other times, digital technology linked to the package may be necessary to convey important information.

Of the various tactics to render text on small packages more legible for the elderly, “making the font larger is an obvious one,” says Jennifer Long, an optometrist, Certified Professional Ergonomist and founder of Jennifer Long Visual Ergonomics in Australia. Using all-capitalized letters may also be helpful in some cases, as the Francesco Rinaldi label illustrates.

“Maximizing the contrast is definitely good,” Long adds. “For example, black on white, dark blue on white. Also making the font bold. Color combinations to avoid are red/green and red/blue, as it is difficult to focus on these two colors simultaneously, even for young people. Also avoid color combinations that have similar contrast, like brown on yellow.”

Another approach is to use digital technology to make product information more accessible. This could take the form of an on-pack quick-response (QR) code that takes the consumer to a website with product information.

“When viewed on a digital device, it could be viewed as a larger size,” Long says. Or “the information could be made into an audio file, which is read to the person.”

For prescription drugs, pharmacists can counsel patients face to face, explaining medication dosing and side effects. “When you pick up your package, there’s an opportunity for them to communicate to you in simple language—what are the concerns, and what are some of the best practices when you’re taking this medication,” says Blake McGowan, managing consultant and ergonomics engineer at Humantech Inc.

Pharmacists can also make sure the instructions on a prescription’s primary package are printed legibly and without unnecessary verbiage. A simple directive to take one tablet by mouth once daily, printed in black ink on a white label in a large, easy-to-read font, is both comprehensible and readable.

On some OTC packages, the best bet is to highlight the ailment the medicine treats rather than the brand or type of product. Elderly consumers may not know the difference between aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, “but they know ‘pain relief,’” McGowan explains.

“A lot of companies are starting to transition their packaging to the very simple—white background, black words, big letters that say ‘pain relief,’” he says. This gives “that older person the ability to identify the outcome they’re looking for from the packaging. It’s not the brand name or the product name, but the outcome.”

Highlighting what an OTC pharmaceutical does rather than what it is—“Arthritis Pain Relief” rather than acetaminophen, for example—helps older consumers choose a product that will provide the benefit they are looking for.

Kate Bertrand Connolly is a seasoned freelance writer based in the San Francisco area covering the packaging, food and technology markets. You can contact her at [email protected].

U.S. considers options after WTO rejects mandatory country of origin labeling

U.S. considers options after WTO rejects mandatory country of origin labeling
Will a voluntary "Product of the U.S." labeling program generate repurcussions from the World Trade Organization and trade partners?

Not everyone agrees on when and how to act to avoid possible retaliatory measures after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and chicken are non-compliant with WTO rules.

The U.S. House passed the Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act (H.R. 2393), which would repeal mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and chicken, and sent the bill the U.S. Senate on June 11, 2015.

The following month, on July 23, 2015, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced S.1844, which would allow meat and poultry products from animals that are born, raised and harvested in the United States to be labeled as “Product of the U.S.” under a voluntary program.  

As way of background, the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, as amended by the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, requires retailers to inform consumers of the country of origin of various meats, fish, shellfish, nuts, fruits and vegetables. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published an interim final rule on COOL for all covered commodities on Aug. 1, 2008, and a final rule on Jan. 15, 2009. Not long after implementation of the mandatory regulations, Canada and Mexico filed suit with WTO claiming that they discriminated against Canadian and Mexican origin livestock.

WTO determined in 2011 that U.S. COOL requirements resulted in Canadian and Mexican livestock being treated less favorably than U.S. livestock. The U.S. appealed but WTO affirmed in 2012 that U.S. COOL requirements for muscle-cut meat commodities were inconsistent with U.S. obligations under the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

In response to that ruling, USDA amended the COOL requirements in May 2013, to require specific information regarding where animal sources of covered meat products were born, raised and slaughtered.

In 2013, Canada and Mexico again filed a complaint with the WTO, and the organization again ruled—in 2014—in flavor of Canada and Mexico. The U.S. also appealed that ruling but was unsuccessful when on May 18, 2015, the WTO Appellate Body confirmed the earlier finding that the COOL measure accorded less favorable treatment to imported livestock than to like domestic livestock. In particular, the Appellate Body agreed with the WTO panel’s conclusions that the amended COOL measure increases the record-keeping burden for imported livestock. 

A few days after the House voted to repeal COOL requirements for beef, pork and chicken, on June 17, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) held a meeting to consider Canada’s request for approximately $2.5 billion in retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. During the meeting, the U.S. referred the issue to arbitration, which will delay the decision for at least 60 more days.

Concern over the possible retaliatory measures spurred calls for repeal of COOL requirements. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing on COOL and trade retaliation on June 25. At the hearing, committee chairman Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) referenced a Kansas State University review of the current mandatory COOL regulations that found that compliance had already cost Kansas $500 million. He added that U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that mandatory COOL has cost the U.S. beef, pork and chicken sectors approximately $1.8 billion.

Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, pointed out that Canadian officials have stated that the voluntary portion of the Senate bill is unacceptable, and he urged the Senate to pass a clean repeal before summer recess. Once that is accomplished, he said he would “commit to working in a bipartisan manner to try and craft a purely voluntary program that is both trade compliant and does not interfere, intentionally or not, with existing labeling programs.”

On the other side of the issue, 142 farm, ranch, environmental and consumer organizations sent a letter on July 28, 2015, to Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Stabenow urging them to reject any efforts to repeal the mandatory COOL labeling law and any attempt to create a voluntary program instead. The letter states that since the U.S. “has a sovereign right to allow the dispute process to proceed to it completion, which is months away, and then decide how and whether to implement the adverse [WTO] ruling,” it is premature for Congress act.

The organizations added that WTO can only authorize penalties based on the extent to which COOL caused a reduction in the volume and price of livestock imports, arguing that the economic recession was the driving factor behind declining livestock import, not COOL.

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 [email protected].