LABELLING WITH CONFIDENCE
Danny Blyth finds out what suppliers are doing to help sandwich and snack operators steer through the minefield that labelling has become.
Time was – and not too long ago – that labelling for sandwiches and other snack services was a simple affair of badging the product and its price so that the customer knew what he was getting and for how much. No longer. For first the trade has had to become au fait with the opportunities that came with newer style labelling that brought added value in the way of drawing attention to particular products, helping the customer narrow choices by, say, colour coding for various protein types, and of course branding that fitted in with your shop’s livery and image.
Now, however, there are further challenges from legislation. Later this month the Food Standards Agency concludes its consultation process on draft voluntary guidelines on the matter of labelling all foods containing allergens – which of course raises the spectre of having to label not only pre-packed foods such as sandwiches (as is the case under current legislation) but also your tubs of sandwich fillings lest they contain items like wheat, fish, eggs or peanuts.
Further legislation and added cost to the retailer are possible. And this is made probable by the fact that the FSA is recommending a new system of colour coding that would also include the need to list nutritional information. Add to all this the fact that the EU is in the process of revamping its labelling legislation and it’s no surprise that labelling is set to become a major talking point in the industry – if not a downright headache.
Martin Williams at Etiquette sums up the situation, saying: ‘Few people have either the time or the expertise to be wading through all the books and legislation. What they need is confidence and peace of mind that they won’t end up in court facing Trading Standards.’
The response from Etiquette has been its recent launch of a new Sandwich Labelling KIT (comprising printer, labels, ribbons and design software), which Martin describes as ‘a very simple and cost effective kit that has had an unbelievable response from smaller usage delis and sandwich shops.’
The added value here is that Etiquette offers a free advice service on legislation as it affects your business – removing the need to wade through all that legislation.
‘And this too has proved exceptionally popular’, according to Martin, who adds that a separate website, www.sandwich-labels.com has been set up to further explain the ease of use of this new system.
Other companies offer similar help in this changing world. Planglow, for instance, includes legislative requirements on its software and also operates a free technical support service for those trying to get the most from labelling. In addition there’s a paid-for branding and design service available to help you achieve a more professional presentation of your product, something that can be readily extended to a host of other items including cups, menus and take-away carriers.
Many suppliers are broadening the services offered to end using shops. ‘Our software specifically includes compliance with legislative requirements – and it will adapt with legislation,’ says Anthony Comfort at printer and label supplier Paperwork (UK), ‘so it’s easy to keep up with the times.’ Paperwork sees its customer support as an ongoing function. ‘It starts with our design and advice service, and supplying templates for printing labels,’ adds Anthony. ‘Then our reps will call around to sit down with people to make sure they’re comfortable with the product.
‘Once people are shown things and start doing things for themselves they quickly find the system easy to use.’
So it appears this latest wave of new technology isn’t that complicated at all.
Indeed, if you can dial a number you can print labels at your site, according to KTEC. Its SOLO keypad can be supplied already loaded with your product menu and one or more label templates: all you need do is inform them of any changes needed to the labels and they will send a new keypad loaded with your new label details for you to use straight away.
KTEC supplies SOLO with any of its Toshiba roll label printers for fast trouble-free labelling, or if preferred they will supply the SOLO studio PC software so you or a friend familiar with computers can add new products to the menu list as well as new label templates. KTEC says it takes about 30 seconds to load the amended details to the keypad.
Technology aside, we shouldn’t ever lose sight of what we require from labelling and those requirements are clear, according to Tony Mariani, Managing Director of AM Labels. ‘Sandwich distributors and producers want labels that are easy to produce and edit, are consistent with regulations, and are attractive at the point of sale, even reflecting the product’s position in the market place,’ he says.
‘An attractive label can add value to the product at the point of sale, creating an impression of product quality and brand recognition.’
Planglow, meanwhile, has announced some labelling advances that complement others in packaging. The company describes The Rosso Collection – a heat seal, extended life, fully biodegradable paperboard sandwich wedge – as ‘a fine piece of art’. It comes in three colourful designs on the side of the wedge to emphasise the freshness of the product and attract attention. In contrast, the front of the package is kept simple so as not to detract from the product and to allow for a label. This works particularly well if you want to continue using your own branded label, according to the supplier.
Alternatively, Planglow has designed a complementary Rosso label shaped to fit the wedge but also designed to be compatible with your other packaging products such as salad pots and baguettes. And Planglow’s in-house design team can customise the Rosso Heat Seal Wedge with your own design: you can brand your wedge with corporate colours and a logo, or you can even have your very own window shape.
For a final tip on printing Peter Tingle, Managing Director at Allstat recommends that you consider thermal transfer printers. ‘Though they can be more costly they do produce results that are better than ink jet – they just look better.’
Finally – and remembering that labelling isn’t solely needed for goods for sale – Positive ID has a new gun/printer for labelling items such as trays of sandwich filling before returning to the fridge after service. HACCP compliant, the Foodsafe date labelling gun system seems a very cost effective solution – right now a gun and 14,000 labels is on offer at £78.00.