Archives for category: labelling

The beginning of November was a rather interesting beginning for the supporters of genetically engineered food labels. Even if victory was not on their side, as the Californian ballot proposing the labelling of genetically modified ingredients in food products was rejected, the movement was still considered important. Why? Because of the increased awareness that GE food labels have started to receive lately.

The polls showed 47% voted in favour and 53% against. Monsanto and food companies such as PepsiCo and Nestle spent $45m on advertising and lobbying for the “no” campaign, while the “yes campaign” only spent around $8m, which was mainly funded by organic food companies.

The “yes” campaign has attracted several celebrity supporters, such as Gwyneth Paltrow and rap star Pharrell Williams who tweeted : “vote yes on Prop 37 if you believe you have the right to know what’s in your food.”

If until recently, the main concern has been the amount of saturated fats and sugars, the latest movement in food labelling shows how really concerned consumers are regarding the foods they intake. Targeted at people’s right to know which foods are genetically modified and which aren’t, the movement triggered the following reaction on behalf of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), “These efforts [to label] are not driven by evidence that GM foods are actually dangerous. Indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.”

The reality is that almost 90% of US-grown corn and soybean is GM.

What Exactly Does Genetically Modified Food Mean?

Genetically modified food  have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. These techniques are much more precise  than mutagenesis (mutation breeding) where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change.

genetically modified

A popular fruit that has been genetically modified is Papya. The reason? To resist the ringspot virus. The New York Times stated that “in the early 1990s, Hawaii’s papaya industry was facing disaster because of the deadly papaya ringspot virus. Without the introduction of the genetically modified breed, the state’s papaya industry would have collapsed. Today, 80% of Hawaiian papaya is genetically engineered, and there is still no conventional or organic method to control ringspot virus.

As expected, the technique has both strong supporters and strong opponents. And while the debates around safety and whether this is ethical or not seem to be endless, the labelling industry is getting ready for what seems to be the next natural step in informing the general public. Product labelling should be as accurate as possible.  Anyway, the choice will always be the consumers’.

Resources: The Guardian, Wikipedia


Product labelling of food items has been a public issue for quite some time. In May 2012 the government began a nationwide consultation of front-of-pack labelling in an attempt to make choosing healthier food easier.

NFU Campaign

Now the public have taken action after a new National Farmers Union campaign launched 12th October 2012 to encourage shoppers to take photos of food labels they view as poor quality. This can mean the person finds them to be uninformative, misleading or confusing.

The real point of contention for the ‘Flag It’ campaign is that the labelling of products such as cheese and milk do not clearly state the country of origin. NFU director of corporate affairs Tom Hind is concerned that this “can confuse consumers into thinking that they are buying British produce when they are not”.

The campaign will use the photographs sent in from the public to review how supermarkets are currently labelling items, and how the clarity can be improved.

Contract Labelling Service

For customers requiring temporary additional resources for specialist labelling applications, the ALS store offers a cost effective contract labelling service with our industrial labeller. This even includes label on label, which can conceal previous labels you feel may be outmoded or improvable.

From the seed that is planted by some blistered hands to the product that is displayed on a shop shelf, there is a long way of hard work, profits and losses. Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is aimed at improving farmers’ lives. It targets small communities, gives shoppers the opportunity to reduce poverty through a simple purchase. Although the initiative was more than laudable, something else was needed to make the small community shops more connected and responding to the demands of the supermarket chains that owned the majority of consumers.

The solution was found in 1988, when the first Fairtrade label, Max Havelaar, was launched under the initiative of Nico Roozen, Frans van der Hoff and Dutch ecumenical development agency Solidaridad. The independent certification allowed the goods to reach the supermarkets. Fairtrade labelling allowed consumers and distributors alike to track the origin of the goods and make sure they benefited the farmers at the end of the chain. Label printers make it possible for other business to use the label, but its use on packaging requires prior license agreement.

In 1997, the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) was created, with the goal of inspecting that the standards were met across all countries that had adopted the system.

In 2002 FLO launched a new International Fairtrade Certification Mark aiming at increased shelf visibility and easier cross border processes.

At present, there are Fairtrade Certification Marks on many products, the most popular being coffee, tea, bananas, mangoes, cotton, etc.  There are an estimated 14 million people in the developing world that depend on cocoa production. 90% of cocoa is grown and harvested on small family farms of 5 hectares or less, while only 5% comes from larger plantations. Coffee, so much in demand, and so much a product we are used to, requires a lot of hard work. It takes four years for a coffee plant to yield fruit.

The reputation of fair trade has soured over the past few years and more and more young people and children are educated in this direction.

Fairtrade is an example to understand the value of a label. It can enrich a life, financially speaking, it can save one, in the case of food labels, it can help shape the prestige of a brand.

Maybe not that poetic, it is industrial labelling that helps a message – information or brand, get conveyed.

Lexmark has recently made public its intention of quitting the inkjet printing business. This has to do with HP, Canon and Epson dominating the market, but mainly with a serious decrease of consumer use. It was just a matter of time until people, benefiting from social media sites, would lose interest in the printed image.

According to BBC News, Lexmark would stop development of the technology by 2013 and close its inkjet supplies factory in Cebu, Philippines by 2015.

While the interest in consumer printing photos has faded, the one in labelling has increased. Various legislations underline the importance of consumers being informed about the products they are purchasing. The information is done through printed labels or messages.

The APLINK Series from ALS are inkjet printing systems that can cover a wide range of marking and coding industrial applications for porous but also non-porous surfaces. Industrial inkjet printers are used in a range of businesses area: food industry, medical industry, cosmetics industry, package labelling and security labelling.

What are the main advantages?

  •  very good resolution and clarity
  • flexibility and economic production

 How do industrial inkjet printers work?

Industrial inkjet printers work by propelling droplets of ink onto paper from a computer produced digital image.

There are two main technologies: continuous inkjet (CIJ) and drop on demand (DOD). The CIJ is used commercially for marking and coding of products and packages.
The DOD technology uses a piezoelectric crystal in each nozzle instead of a heating element. When current is applied, the crystal changes shape or size, forcing a droplet of ink from the nozzle. The advantage of piezoelectric ink jets is that they allow a wider variety of inks than thermal or continuous ink jet.
An example of the piezoelectronic application is the “use before” date. In this case the head is stationary and the product moves, which highlights the long service and the low operating cost.

Although invented in 1976, the inkjet printer became a home consumer item only in 1988 when Hewlett-Packard made it available for an exorbitant sum. Having lost in the consumer sector recently, it has been perfected to respond to an increasing industrial demand.
Apart from offering label applicators and thermal transfer printers, ALS is also dedicated to industrial inkjet printers, as one of the best choice for porous materials.

industrial food labelsConsumers are more than ever interested to know what’s in their food. Over several decades there has been an increase in legislation which forced food manufacturers to display more and more information about the food on its labelling and packing.

ALS understands that proposed changes in food labelling legislation could lead to industrial label applicators benefiting significantly.

In California, the Right to Know initiative, which would require the labelling of food which contains genetically modified ingredients, will appear on the state’s November ballot according to the California Secretary of State’s office.

“We’re thrilled that Californians will have the opportunity this November to vote for the right to know what’s in our food,” Stacy Malkan, a spokesperson for the California Right to Know campaign told the Sacramento Bee.

“This initiative is pretty simple. It’s about our fundamental right to make informed choices about the food we eat and feed our families,” she added.

Malkan claims the proposal gained steam quickly as her organization collected nearly a million signatures in “just 10 weeks.”

If voters pass the law, it would take effect on July 1, 2014. Labels would read “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”

This highlights just how sensitive some food manufacturers are regarding changes in label legislation. As a result labelling businesses which can efficiently label huge volumes of products are best placed to deal with such demands.

The food industry and the labelling industry, one could argue are a match made in heaven. As consumers we rarely, if ever, think about the labels on our food when shopping because we are so used to seeing a clear label with the right information on it.

Food manufacturers must by law clearly convey the following:-

  • the name of the food
  • a list of ingredients (including food allergens)
  • the amount of an ingredient which is named or associated with the food
  • an appropriate durability indication (e.g. ‘best before’ or ‘use by’)
  • any special storage conditions or instructions for use
  • the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or retailer
  • the place of origin (where failure to do so might mislead)

Without this kind of information not only would doing the shopping be a lot more problematic, it would also be a serious risk to your health. If for example you are extremely allergic to nuts or dairy produce, doing the food shopping without labels could be life threatening.

In the UK and the US we are lucky that food labelling is an issue that has been addressed for quite some time now. However with the planet’s population estimated to swell to 9 billion by 2050 there will be significant increase in demand for food.

The farming, food, and drink sector is an important part of the UK, being responsible for over 3.5 million jobs. It has a key role in driving strong and sustainable growth, particularly through exporting to overseas markets.

Exports in the agri-food sector have been growing steadily, with 2010 seeing the sixth consecutive year of growth in value to £16 billion.

Key facts and figures:

  • The USA, France, Germany, Spain and Ireland together account for over half of all UK agri-food and drink exports. These are markets which are geographically close, have a large number of ex-pats, and with historic cultural links to the UK.
  • As high-growth consumer powers emerge exports need to be re-orientated to take advantage of new opportunities. The combined value of UK agri-food and drink exports to Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico, which together account for 44% of the world’s population, is less than the UK exports to Belgium.
  • China, USA, India, Russia and Brazil are expected to be the top five retail grocery markets by 2015.
  • Research across sectors shows that exporting is good for businesses, with organisations that export demonstrating higher productivity levels, stronger financial performance and greater longevity.

It is always interesting to look at the history of a common place item. Many of the products and innovations we use today date back to 18th century, others yet are from the Renaissance. Few of the items we use today can date back to ancient civilisations, stickers is one of such products.

Stickers first started as handmade paper labels which developed into printed adhesive paper or, what we call today, print sticker labels.

The idea of stickers was first used by ancient Egyptians to advertise the rates of their products in the markets. The sticker, a simple piece of paper, was plastered to the wall of the market.

During the 18th century, competitions in markets were so high that the sellers used colorful paper and pasted it with a gum to various types of fruits and fruits crates. They simply applied the gum paste to the back of the sticker and allowed it dry. They considered this as a good method to attract the customers’ eyes – you can see the same principle in modern times- stickers are used on products in shops for special offers.

The very first adhesive paper was invented by a British inventor, named Sir Rowland Hill in 1839, and became what we know today as postage stamps. The adhesive was achieved by wetting the back of the stickers and then applying on an envelope.

One modern version of the sticker was invented in 1935 by R. Staton Avery. He invented a machine that produced self-adhesive labels and the process involved the same idea of sticker label printing, namely that the adhesive side was stuck onto a silicone coated liner where it can easily be removed and reapplied.

Today’s sticker labels come in a wide range of colours, shapes and used for a wide selections of applications. You can easily create your own stickers for your own brand, thanks to the latest technology which provides the best quality sticker labels.

For instance ALS specialises in designing and printing sticker labels that suit endless applications, from packaging labels to special offer. Sticker labels are a great way of saving on reprinting costs as you do not need to print all your packaging again. Print sticker labels are great for barcodes as well.