Functional self-adhesive labels for the food and beverage market
In the light of much of the media coverage of adulteration/falsification of drinks – baby milk and other beverages (including wine) and foods, – the responsible brand owner today can choose to use one simple path to success, across all his required functionalities: a self-adhesive label.
Across all the end-use market segments - including food and drinks, and retailing - self-adhesive labels have established an unmatched reputation for reliability, coupled with versatility, in every respect. They are a preferred choice because of the extremely stable nature of the self-adhesive ‘sandwich’ – a laminate of printable face stock, adhesive, and the release liner which carries it along the press. Delivered in long or short reels, conveniently still on their backing liner, the labels are ready for accurate, legible personalisation by any of today’s variable information printing (VIP) technologies to deliver a unique identifier.
These are functional labels which must perform in a variety of environments to meet different needs. They undertake a variety of important roles. They identify single items at the retail point of sale, in catchweigh applications, particularly for fresh foods. Here, the labels’ dual readability role – correctly identifying the contents for the consumer and enabling the sales assistant to successfully scan the item’s barcode at the checkout – is critical. They can also perform a major function in product authentication and tamper-evidence.
The actual substrate to which they will be applied may vary from wood to rough card, plastic (films or containers), glass, or waxed cartonboard. It may be hot, damp, cool, or out of the freezer. Self-adhesive labels offer a choice of adhesives delivering reliable adhesion, whatever the circumstances. Certified adhesives for direct food contact (meeting FDA and BfR standards) are available.
But that is only part of the story. The label’s face stock – its printable surface – must be able to conform to the pack to which it is applied. On flat surfaces, this is no challenge – but the situation is very different when it comes to curved packaging or ‘difficult’ surfaces such as apolar plastics which repel standard adhesives, or, for example, the roundels applied directly to self-serve fruits in the supermarket. Storage conditions – wet, damp, blast freeze, in particular - will also affect face stock choice.
Additionally, clear readability is essential (either by the naked eye, or with scanners). The imaging methods used for such labels also, therefore, make demands on the choice of label face stock. With self-adhesive labels, the ability to choose a preferred or special-purpose face stock and combine it with a preferred adhesive, and a release liner ideally suited to the label application method employed is a considerable benefit.