In recent years, the global food and beverage industry has been plagued by counterfeit products. These fake goods are sold under the guise of being authentic, but they contain substandard ingredients, inferior packaging, or both. Counterfeits also pose significant health risks to consumers since these items may not meet safety standards or contain harmful substances.
Product tampering and counterfeiting are an ever-increasing problem that has resulted in harming the consumers as well as substantial financial losses for the manufacturers. This article explores methods to prevent counterfeits in the food and beverage industry with coding and marking systems.
Identify the risks
You should first identify the risks that could potentially occur in your industry. These risks include but are not limited to:
Fake goods may look identical to genuine products but often contain inferior components or substandard materials. They may also be cheaper than the real thing.
Goods may be deliberately altered to change their appearance or performance characteristics. For example, some foods may be adulterated with harmful substances or ingredients.
Substitution occurs when one product is replaced with another that is similar but does not meet the exact specifications.
Protecting products with overt and covert marking techniques
Control Print’s coding and marking systems help companies prevent counterfeits and tamperings in a variety of ways. The two main methods manufacturers use are adding overt and covert features on the labels and product packaging that help identify the original product and ensure that the product quality is unchanged.
- Overt (noticeable) features are barcodes, QR codes, embossing, holograms, etc.
- Covert (hidden) features include infrared inks, UV inks, invisible watermarks, etc.
Our industrial printing solutions are not only efficient in adding covert as well as overt features, but the number of options it offers to manufacturers of various industries makes them a preferable choice.
The primary functions of food packaging and product labelling
Food packaging has three main functions:
- Protecting food from outside influence and damage
- Containing food
- Providing consumers with ingredients and nutrition information
Secondary functions of increasing importance include traceability, convenience, and tamper indication. Food packaging aims to contain food in a cost-effective, safe, and environmentally friendly manner that meets customer expectations and industry requirements.
Labelling your products has several benefits. For one, it makes it easier for consumers to identify what’s inside each package. It can help prevent people from mistakenly consuming products not meant for their usage (such as those with allergens). Another benefit is that it allows you to offer additional information about the product, such as the country of origin, ingredients, nutritional facts, etc., which can help increase consumer confidence in your products. Product labelling is also vital for businesses that want to maintain a specific look and feel through their packaging, and this helps to brand your products and make them stand out from the rest.
Marketing and Branding
Marketing is an essential aspect of the food and beverage business, especially regarding packaging designs. It helps promote new products in a highly competitive market and increases consumer choice. These products are usually produced and sold in large quantities because consumers highly demand them. Food and beverage companies’ packaging labels on their products are particularly important because they’re frequently used as tools for branding and advertising.
Your packaging is one of the first things people see when encountering your products, and it conveys an important message to them about your company. The packaging may be created to enhance the company’s product and/or to set itself apart from its competitors. As a result, distinct or innovative packaging might give your business an edge against competitors in a competitive environment. Because so many companies offer similar foods and beverages, maintaining individual identity is critical, and it helps them target different consumer groups.
Control Print’s coding and marking systems can produce full-body printing, which allows for a variety of options for brands to use their marketing material on the packaging. Moreover, our digital printers offer a wide range of customisations such as printing on textured surfaces, printing effects, and anti-tampering features, among others which appeal to many manufacturing companies in the food and beverage industry.
Product Identification and Authentication
The food industry is a $1 trillion-a-year global market that employs more than 100 million people worldwide. The demand for packaged foods has increased rapidly in recent years due to the growing population of consumers concerned with their health and well-being. Packaged products have become integral to our daily lives; they provide convenience, variety, and quality.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all food producers to label their products with certain information. These include the manufacturer’s name, the type of product, the net weight, the expiration date, and the list of ingredients. In addition, the FDA mandates that any food that contains added sugar must carry a warning label.
Labelling packages helps satisfy legal regulations regarding product identification, nutritional values, ingredients, net weights, and manufacturers’ information. Furthermore, the product packaging displays essential information about its contents, like cooking instructions, branding, and price.
Track and trace are the ability to follow the movement of food products from point A to point B through defined stages of manufacturing, processing, and distribution. It aims to increase the traceability of products from farm to fork to enhance supply chain operations and management and to track and trace food products for safety and quality purposes.
Food manufacturers use unique coding and marking on their products and packaging labels to track them through the distribution process and the supply chain. Codes are available in various formats, i.e., printed barcodes or QR codes and can be read manually and/or by machine.
Factors including convenience features like easy access, handling, resealability, disposal, and microwave ability significantly impact packaging innovations. Consequently, packaging plays an essential role in minimising the time needed for preparing and serving meals. You can cook a complete meal using oven-safe trays, microwaveable packaging, and boiling bag containers. These types of packaging help people enjoy their meals without having to prepare them at home or spend time cooking. Unique closure designs provide an easy opening, resealing, and special dispensing capabilities.
Companies are developing flexible packaging with a scoreable section allowing consumers to access their food products easily. A membrane with a removable sealing layer protects the contents from contamination, keeps them fresh for longer after opening and allows for reclosure.
Advances in food packaging technology have made it easier for retailers to provide shoppers convenient access to products from around the globe. These convenience factors offer competitive advantages, leading to increased consumer demand for packaged goods and packaging production and consumption. Consumer demand for convenience is constantly growing. Food packaging must be able to serve more than one function and offer convenient features such as resealable lids, portability, easy-to-open containers, convenient preparation features, and visible packaging.
Evidence of Tampering
Deliberately tampering with food and pharma products has led to special packaging features designed to prevent or minimise the risk of tampering and contamination, preventing people from intentionally altering foods and drugs.
Any package can be breached by someone who knows how to defeat its security mechanisms; however, tamper-proof packaging with tamper-evident security features usually cannot be easily replaced. Tamper-evident features include:
- Banded caps.
- Special membrane seals.
- Breakaway closures and lids.
- Special printing (graphics or texts) on liner materials or composite containers irrevocably changes when opened.
Holographic printing also involves special techniques that cannot be easily replicated. Tamper-evident packaging often requires extra packing material, which worsens waste handling, but the benefits typically outweigh these disadvantages and tend to be worth the effort. An excellent example of a tamper-evident feature that doesn’t require additional packaging materials is a chemically formulated heat seal designed for pharmaceutical products that change colour once opened.
Common materials used in food packaging
Packaging design and construction play an essential role in maintaining the quality and shelf-longevity of foods. Packaging that maintains the freshness and quality of food products for efficient retailing and shipping operations is vital for any business. Food products such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, fruits, vegetables, grains, and oils are packaged using traditional materials like plastics, aluminium foil, paper, paperboard, glass, laminated films, tin plate, and tin-free sheets.
Furthermore, a wide range of plastics has been developed in rigid and flexible forms. Today’s food packaging combines several materials to take advantage of their individual functional or aesthetic features. As research into ways to improve the environmental impact of packaged foods continues, advancements in the field could help reduce the environmental impact of packaged goods.
Growing preference toward digital coding and marking solutions in the manufacturing and packaging industry
Digital coding and marking systems are gaining popularity among manufacturers due to their considerable benefits. Industrial printers are available in a wide range of capacities, print technologies, and competitive prices in the market, making them suitable for both large and small businesses. Unlike conventional printing methods, modern coding and marking systems enable you to customise the printing contents for different use cases in the food and beverage manufacturing and packaging industry. Moreover, digital printers also allow for easier printing of fine details like text, serial numbers, barcodes, QR codes, data matrix codes, logos, etc., in smaller font sizes without compromising image clarity.
The latest marking systems are so advanced that they can code permanently on all kinds of substrates, i.e., plastics, glass, wood, tin, paper, cardboard, etc. Advanced printing technology, such as using UV inks, helps keep the label printability unaffected by temperature changes and light conditions. Because of several advantages of digital printing at extremely high speeds, many companies are now using coding and marking solutions for printing on product labels and packaging. They offer numerous advantages over traditional printing methods. Being both cost-effective and easy to use, digital printing has become increasingly popular among companies looking to increase the visibility of their products.
Control Print helps prevent product tampering and counterfeiting across industries
The world of manufacturing is changing. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has led to a new wave of innovations in production, from smart factories that can monitor their own performance to 3D printers that can print out replacement parts for damaged products.
But these technologies have also created a new set of problems:
- How do you ensure your products are genuine?
- How do you keep them safe from hackers who want to steal intellectual property?
- How do you stop counterfeiters from making copies of your products?
The answer lies in Control Print’s coding and marking systems that help a large number of manufacturers authenticate their products and prevent counterfeiting. In addition, it is an essential tool for inspecting finished goods in production or distribution processes.
There are many reasons why our coding and marking systems are beneficial to manufacturers:
- They help businesses to protect their intellectual property. By encoding information into physical objects, they create unique identifiers that cannot be copied.
- They help to prevent counterfeiting. When a company uses coding and marking technology, it can assign each object its own unique identifier.
- They help to improve traceability. If a product needs to be traced back to its source, it can be tracked through the supply chain.
- They enable more efficient logistics. For example, a package containing multiple products can be scanned at different points along its lifecycle.
Supportive of our intelligent printing and marking solutions designed for primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of product packaging, Control Print offers a complete line of non-hazardous ink solutions specifically engineered for the food and beverage sector.
We provide reliable customer support throughout India, and our dedicated sales support team provides excellent technical advice and expert guidance to ensure that we meet your needs every time. Contact our industry experts by writing to [email protected] or calling +91 8097466782 to book a demo.
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