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6 Steps to Leverage the FDA’s Nutrition Facts Panel Update

Posted By: SGK July 27, 2015

Smart brands know that the root cause of the nutrition facts panel update is not political. It’s consumer-driven. There’s a groundswell need for greater transparency and education surrounding the food industry. Simply put, consumers are looking to make more informed decisions about the food they buy for their families, says our Carol Best, VP of Client Engagement at SGK.

The FDA’s nutrition facts panel update represents a fantastic opportunity to turn a discontinuous market event into competitive advantage, but only for brands that are prepared. There are actions you can take today that will enable your brand to better manage this regulation change and stand out to consumers. Best shares these six routes to success:

1.    Know what consumers expect from your brand
It’s important to take time to uncover critical insights about the role of your brand and your category in the life of your consumer. To begin uncovering this insight, use thought starters such as: Does your brand provide basic nourishment or indulgence? Are better-for-you options growing in your category? How do consumers think of your competition regarding health and wellness?

2.    Anticipate changes to serving sizes
Be better prepared by asking “what if” serving sizes changed to reflect consumption. How will consumers likely respond? What current claims would need to change? What education might be required for retailers, shoppers and/or consumers?

3.    Seize competitive advantage
Act boldly. Reformulate an existing product to better align with consumer expectations or needs. Look for ways to repackage existing products in a way that promotes responsible consumption behavior. And finally, innovate to deliver mixes that are better-for-you, have fewer ingredients, tap into how consumers may respond to new visibility about the nutritional value of your category.

4.    Understand your true design equities and assets
What elements on your product packaging are critical to maintain no matter what? On the flip side, what can you afford to change, move or remove? 

5.    Touch packs only once (and think beyond the pack itself)
Be sure to make every touch count. Determine what other design changes should be made while you are touching the label. The outcome is always better when you can coordinate label changes at the same time as any previously planned redesigns. This will keep you from having to design twice in two-year compliance window.

6.    Assemble the right team
Being able to coordinate all the components and stakeholders requires an informed, agile and experienced team. Assemble the right people now so that you can begin planning how to conduct an impact audit, defining processes, assigning task owners, establishing governance and other steps in the process. 

For more expert advice and up-to-date information on how to be ready for the impending label change, visit Schawk’s Label Central.

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Tips For Taking Control Of Your Brand On The Digital Shelf

Posted By: SGK January 15, 2015

Against a rapidly exploding e-commerce marketing, it’s interesting and also very worrying – to analyse the disparity in the state of product packaging being displayed online by some brands compared to the physical product, says Sharon McGuire, Director of Business Development & Growth, Europe, at SGK, in a recent article for PackagingNews.
 
With new EU labeling rules coming into effect, the rules not only require clearer and more prominent display of allergen and other information on packaging, but also specify that compliance includes the digital shelf. With this in mind, it’s time for all brand owners to take stock of how products are viewed not only on the physical shelf but on the digital shelf as well, she says.

According to McGuire, marketers and brand managers who fail to ensure that products are accurately portrayed on the digital shelf will risk losing brand share in the growing marketplace.

“An inconsistent digital presentation of packaging not only damages brand experience, but can undermine hard-won loyalty – something brands spend millions seeking to build. On top of this, an inaccurate portrayal of a brand can put a business at regulatory risk,” says McGuire. 

So how can brand owners take control of the e-content supply chain and ensure a consistent brand experience for consumers across all products?

Consistency is key
It’s vital that your products are represented consistently across all online retailers and product review sites. A simple way to maintain consistency, while also reducing supply chain costs, is to use final and approved artwork for both your printed and virtual products. This limits discrepancies between the digital and physical shelf. You should also consider specifying explicit standards for packaging on the digital shelf in your brand guidelines to ensure consistency across all products. 

Avoid regulatory risk
As of 13 December 2014, the main elements of the Food Information to Consumers EU 1169/2011 Regulation (FIC) will take effect in the UK and across Europe. Food business operators have been given three years to ensure a smooth transition towards the new labeling regime. Inaccurate representation of a brand online doesn’t just erode consumer trust, but it can also place a business at regulatory risk.

Moving into 2015, with an increasing number of consumers migrating online to do their shopping and with new regulations placing brands at risk, the online shelf can no longer be relegated to second place status. Here's what you can do to enable your brand to win on the digital shelf. 

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3 Ways To Optimize The Accuracy Of Your Product Labels

Posted By: SGK November 17, 2014

The American food industry is on the verge of an unprecedented change in regulatory standards, inspection, enforcement and, logically, the frequency of recalls.

The number of “reportable foods” in the Reportable Food Registry is increasing. The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act has given the FDA much more authority over actual recalls, food performance standards, traceability and inspections. And manufacturers will likely be responsible for hazard analysis systems. But that’s not all…

FDA-proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label (covering nutrition information, serving sizes and the size of the label itself) and the display of other information could impact nearly 60,000 manufacturers and 750,000 Universal Product Codes, representing nearly $250 billion in sales1

There has been much analysis of the cost of potential recalls and of simply updating product packaging to meet the new standards. But there’s a missing link: How a holistic approach to developing a packaging artwork process, aided by technology, can greatly reduce the risk of recall at all times, notes Michael Leeds, SVP of Client Engagement, Americas at SGK.

Naturally this activity has forced food manufacturers and brand owners to analyze the impact on their businesses. For instance, a great deal has been written on how these companies should handle the increased liability exposure and the obstacles to recovery after a recall. But there’s been less discussion of the food label itself – and this is risky, because where product safety, recall protocols and nutrition information are concerned, all roads go through the label. 

So how can a manufacturer or brand owner optimize the accuracy of a product label? There are several interconnected ways: 

1. A full commitment to cGMP protocols. 
In the coming years, this will not be a luxury – it will be crucial. In 2011, the Grocery Manufacturers Association surveyed representatives from 36 companies, a majority of them with more than $1 billion in sales and nearly a quarter with sales over $5 billion. All had undergone Class I (health and safety) recalls. 

Nearly half estimated the cost of the recalls at under $9 million, but 29 percent estimated between $10 million and $29 million, and 23 percent estimated $30 million or more. For 5 percent, the cost was more than $100 million. The cost of a full implementation of best-in-class graphics workflow management system is far lower than this, and it pays permanent benefits. 

In this light, the new food labeling regulations aren’t just regulations: they’re a prime opportunity to educate consumers, refresh and grow brands – and to drive agility and efficiency in the graphics process to save costs and increase speed to market.

2. A commitment to a better graphics workflow and technology. 
At a cost far less than even a small Class I recall, manufacturers or brand owners can incorporate a graphic asset workflow and approval software such as BLUE, which includes implementation, training and ongoing support. This kind of system is designed specifically to optimize the storage and application of label artwork and copy across all media. It minimizes the number of “touches” by humans when labels and digital expressions are produced. And it protects approved assets from accidental changes or misapplication. It can even produce KPI data to further improve accuracy and speed.

Technology like this is fully embraced by the pharmaceutical industry for the same reasons and it’s now ideal for the food industry: strict demands for quality, accuracy and traceability, including cGMP mandates. And in an age of “just-in-time” global manufacturing, this geography-agnostic technology can give companies much needed control of far-away processes.

3. Vendor consolidation. 
While much of the new burdens fall on manufacturers, brands can suffer in long-lasting ways from recalls. And when a comprehensive store brand is supplied by dozens or even hundreds of vendors, it may be difficult to achieve total visibility and control of accuracy and consistency on labels. Consolidating the label graphics phase with one expert company – rather than leaving it to the individual manufacturers – gives the brand owner considerable control, consistency and savings.

Although the food labeling regulatory changes discussed here are still being formulated and finalized, it’s certain that food and beverage manufacturers and brands will have additional new risks and burdens. They will address those through risk assumption and risk transfer plans, certainly. But risk avoidance is equally crucial. Optimizing the graphics supply chain and workflow processes is a proven strategy for risk reduction – and brand building.

Learn more about how to manage these changes, optimize your packaging graphics and build stronger relationships with shoppers and consumers in the process. Download Patterns – The New Label: Responsibilities + Opportunities.

Nutrition Facts/Serving Sizes Combined PRIA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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6 Ways to Get Your Branded Materials to Market Faster

Posted By: SGK October 16, 2014

Speed to market – for brand owners and marketers, it can be elusive, frustrating and, at times, seemingly impossible to achieve. 

Today’s complex, matrix and resource-constrained organizations may contribute to internal and external communication issues that stall the progress of bringing even the simplest of brand collateral to the market. As you may know, the effects can be damaging: lack of resource productivity, higher cost, loss of market traction and bottom-line stagnation.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The path to improved speed to market is multi-faceted and complex – but achievable. And when marketers and brand owners achieve improved speed to market, they drive their brands’ performance.

Here are six proven practices: 

1.    Validate your inputs.
You may consider this a no-brainer, but many companies struggle with input validation because it’s actually pretty hard. Start by sitting down with your agency/production partners to logically categorize all the inputs required to create/produce your materials. Choose a taxonomy that makes sense for your company. Then organize the information in a standard form. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as advanced as a database. 

2.    Streamline your routing and approval process.
Approvals are a hot-button issue within any content-rich organization. Assuming you have a formal routing and approval process, dig in and ask why so many people need to approve your organization’s packaging and promotional materials. The more people involved in approving work, the greater the drain on your marketplace agility. Look for opportunities to take people out of the approval cycle, to establish parallel path approvers and to create simplified processes for simple deliverables. 

3.    Eliminate redundancies.
Take time to analyze the tasks performed by your marketers, marketing communications staff and agency/production partners. Look for redundancies in project management, approval processes and meeting attendance. You may find that many of the redundancies are tactical tasks and while each task make only take a few minutes, adding them up annually over thousands of packaging changes, promo materials, etc. amounts to significant loss of time and energy.

4.    Focus resources and time on what’s most important. 
Evaluate your mix of marketing materials and decide which consumer touchpoints are most critical to your growth. Then examine any workflows that support the less critical touchpoints. Media that are not delivering should require little to no attention from marketing leadership in a $1B+ organization. By relentlessly pursuing this philosophy, you’ll free up staff to execute more efficiently on high-value activities. 

5.    Go digital.
Requesting and trafficking files on CDs and printouts is the exact opposite of a “lean” process. They need to be shipped, stored and managed. And they can’t be indexed for searching on your computer. An all-digital workflow will empower your organization, driving speed, efficiency and accuracy throughout the enterprise. 

6.    Remove communication roadblocks. 
It’s common for agency and production partners to be frustrated by excessive communication pass-throughs and red tape around information needed to create branded materials. One solution could be as simple as assigning multiple points of contact based on areas of expertise within your organization. Empower your partners to initiate approval routes inside your approval tool. The idea is to remove obstacles and simplify for speed. 

To become more nimble, marketing organizations need to think “lean” and remove non-value-adding tasks from their marketing services supply chain.

Find more insight on these best practices as well as lessons from top CPGs in our new white paper: 6 Ways to Get Your Branded Materials To Market Faster.

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5 Steps to Enable Your Brand to Gain Control of the Digital Shelf

Posted By: SGK August 13, 2014

To get your share of a rapidly expanding e-commerce market, you need to provide customers with an online experience that’s as true as possible to the product they choose at the physical store shelf. 

This requires that brand owners gain control of the process of e-content development and e-content management. To get started, here are five steps to create an online experience that mirrors the offline: 

1.    Audit your brand online
Have you recently audited your brand’s presence on the digital shelf? If not, examine product packages and information across multiple sites – from online retail giants, to smaller niche retailers, to product review websites. You may be surprised to see outdated product image, images that don’t represent final approved artwork, limited product views and so on. Consumers are buying online and using online to learn about products, and this will only increase!

2.    Overcome fragmented processes
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for brands is that inside large corporations there is no single person accountable for packaging e-content. It’s often split by brand between individual departments as well as among a number of external suppliers. This can result in a vicious cycle that puts key parts of your supply chain at risk when a design is refreshed or a new packaging regulation requires compliance.

3.    Synchronize control between online and print
The best way to do this is to develop digital brand content in tight integration with the same workflows used to create and manage artwork for the physical package. This will allow you to avoid the brand disconnect that occurs when previous-generation images remain online after the newest version of the package has reached store shelves. 

4.    Get ahead of packaging regulations
Focusing only on the printed package puts your brand risk. EU Regulation 1169 requires extensive labeling changes to clearly disclose nutrition and allergen information. These disclosures must also be made online where consumers have no choice but to trust the digital representation of the brand. In the U.S., upcoming FDA regulations requiring changes to nutrition labels represent an opportunity to get ahead.

5.    Market faster - Online 
With an all-digital workflow, when new mechanical artwork is approved for packaging, that’s the trigger for packaging content for online sales. And in a few days, before the product even hits physical store shelves, but when it’s ready to ship, you can be ready to sell accurately online.

The conclusion couldn’t be clearer: the opportunities are substantial for brands that take control of their presence on the digital shelf  – now, not later! 

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New Food Labeling Regulations Are Coming. Are You Ready?

Posted By: SGK July 24, 2014

Many people gloss over nutritional facts on food labels. But that’s about to change. And it’s not just because people are becoming more conscientious about what they eat. It’s also because the information is about to become easier to understand and much harder to overlook on labels. 

In the European Union, EU Regulation 1169/2011 establishes a new legal framework for providing food information to consumers and ensure consumers have complete, unambiguous legible information about the foods they plan to eat prior to purchase. 

According to Stephen Kaufman, Chief Technology Officer at SGK, the most interesting part of the EU food labeling regulation concerns “pre-packaged foods offered for sale by means of distance communications.” Take for example, a candy bar sold through Amazon. The regulation states that, “information shall be available before the purchase is concluded,” and “without charging consumers supplementary costs.” This means brands need to coordinate the information printed on the package with information displayed on any number of online retail sites.

New food labeling regulations are coming to the U.S. too. For example, the FDA announced on February 27 that there will be:

• Much more prominent display of information such as serving sizes and calories

• A requirement that serving sizes reflect what people actually eat at a typical sitting, not the smaller amount they “should” be eating

• More prominent display of daily value percentages for nutrients, along with information about what the values mean

• Changes in label information based on new understanding of nutrition science – such as requiring information about added sugars, updating the daily values for certain “nutrients of public health significance,” emphasizing the importance of avoiding certain kinds of fat rather than focusing on total calories from fat, and so on. 

Congress is also taking action. For example, H.R.3147, recently referred to a House subcommittee, would require labels to prominently display on the front panel information such as the percentage of wheat or whole grains included in products marketed using terms such as “multigrain” or “whole wheat,” as well as the inclusion of sweeteners, coloring or flavoring. 

All of this is good for consumers, and it can be good for brands as well – but only if they handle the changes in a thoughtful and systematic way. 

Brands need to have a plan in place – or much better, a system like BLUE, which we offer for managing the many print and digital redesigns that will be required to deal with new regulations that are already in place in the European Union, and soon to come in other regions. 

For more details on the new food labeling regulations and what the brands in U.S. can expect, download Patterns Issue 1, 2014 – Participatory Marketing.

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