Ready Meals are the convenient lifestyle choice for time poor consumers desiring food choices which provide a combination of flavour, quality, nutrition and fuss-free preparation.
Manufacturers in this growing sector are facing increasing challenges regarding the labelling and coding of these convenience food products. While producers work to increase production efficiencies, improve margins and protect the integrity of their brand, a number different stakeholders are increasing pressure on them for the labelling and coding of Ready Meals.
Both government and consumers are demanding clearer, more detailed food ingredients information. This includes specific allergen labelling, the introduction of the voluntary Front of Package Food Star Ratings and the newly proposed, more specific Country of Origin labelling.
Retailers too are demanding clearer codes, desiring precise characters that can be easily read by consumers when products are displayed on shelves or in retail cabinets; and are pushing for true-type fonts, similar to the coding and marking on shelf-ready packs, as well as 2D Data Matrix barcodes.
Added to the mix is the desire of brand owners to use the latest coding technology to protect their brand's integrity. Beyond the obvious requirement for clear, precise compliance codes that complement the product's brand and packaging design, some brand owners are exploring innovative uses for variable information and QR codes to build consumer engagement and enhance the perceived quality of their ready meal.
Which is Best?
While there is a wide range of technology options available, each offers slightly different benefits in terms of application and output. When looking for the right solution, manufacturers will benefit from choosing a technology partner with a range of technologies who can offer an unbiased approach, focus on the best coding outcome, and help to increase production efficiencies and improve margins.