Food Labeling Requirements: How to Design an FDA-Compliant Pouch

As a food brand, there are many different things to keep in mind as you design your package – from the functional items, like size and special features, to the aesthetics, like graphics and colors. 

One of the most important parts of creating a successful food package is adhering to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidelines for labeling a food product. The goal of these guidelines is to ensure that foods sold in the U.S. are safe, wholesome, and properly labeled. Regardless of the type of food product you are packaging, there are general food packaging requirements that everyone must adhere to.

In this post, we’re sharing a high-level overview of the different parts of an FDA-compliant package, all of which can be accessed in the FDA’s Food Labeling Guide. To access the most up-to-date information about food labeling, refer to the FDA website

General Requirements: Placement of Label Statements

On food containers, label statements are statements about the product, including item type, brand, and quantity. These statements can be placed on the package in two ways.

  • One way is by placing all required label statements on the front label panel, also referred to as the principal display panel (PDP). 
  • The other way is to place only certain specified label statements on the PDP, while including other information on the information panel, which is the panel located immediately to the right of the PDP.  

The Principal Display Panel (or PDP)

The PDP is the portion of the package label that is most likely to be seen by the consumer at the time of purchase. Think of it as the front of the package. Many containers are designed with two or more suitable surfaces that can be used as the PDP; these are called alternate PDPs. 

An example of the PDP (or front of the package) from our friend Cassava Breads

Bear in mind that there are a few items that must be on the PDP, including:

  • The statement of identity, or name of the food
  • The net quantity statement, or amount of product. 

The statement of identity should be in bold, prominent type so consumers know exactly what they are buying.

The Information Panel

The information panel is the label panel immediately to the right of the PDP. The phrase “information panel labeling” refers to the label statements that are generally required to be placed together, without any intervening material, on the information panel (as long as the information is not already on the PDP). These label statements include the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor, the ingredient list, nutrition labeling, and any required allergy labeling. The information panel should basically give consumers all relevant information about the company and product. 

Example of the information panel from Cassava Breads

Regarding the information panel, the FDA mandates that packagers must adhere to specific guidelines. Keep these in mind as you create your food pouch:

  • Use a print or type size that is prominent, conspicuous, and easy to read. The FDA even goes into such specifics as stating that letters be at least one sixteenth (1/16) inch in height based on the lowercase letter “o” and the letters must not be more than three times as high as they are wide.
  • If space is an issue, smaller type sizes may be used for information panel labeling on very small food packages.
  • Different type sizes are specified for the Nutrition Facts label. For example, the “Nutrition Facts” heading must be in a type size larger than all other print size in the nutrition label and generally set the full width of the nutrition facts label
  • Do not crowd required labeling with artwork or non-required labeling
  • Information that is not required by the FDA (such as UPC barcode) is considered intervening material and is not permitted to be placed between the required labeling on the information panel.

Food labels must also list the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor. The FDA mandates that unless the name given is the actual manufacturer, it must be accompanied by a qualifying phrase which states the firm’s relation to the product (like, “manufactured for” or “distributed by”). Also be sure to include the street address if the firm name and address are not listed in a current city directory or telephone book.

Keeping Up-to-Date with FDA Labeling 

The FDA is clear that it remains the food packager’s responsibility to keep current with the legal requirements for food labeling. As a food brand, you will want to make sure that your information is up-to-date, especially as regulations change and update frequently. 

Refer to the FDA food labeling guide here to read all about the specifics of creating a FDA-compliant food package. 

Finding a Food Packaging Partner

Keeping your packaging FDA compliant is only one part of the packaging design and manufacturing process. We recommend finding a packaging provider that makes it easy for you to make changes to your packaging, should regulations change. 

At ePac, we partner with you each step of the way, utilizing digital printing technology to create quality, custom pouches for multiple flexible packaging markets at affordable prices. Contact us today to get started on your next custom flexible packaging project. 

Planograms 101: What They Are and Why They’re Important for Your Brand

As a brand owner selling your retail product in brick and mortar stores, you may be familiar with the word planogram, sometimes referred to as POG. In the retail business, planogram is the term retailers use to describe the merchandising plan for the layout of the store. 

So how do planograms work? The official definition of a planogram is a schematic drawing or plan for displaying merchandise so as to maximize sales. It can be a diagram or model that indicates the placement of retail products on shelves, as well as the layout for the entire store. Here is an example of a planogram showing a store’s layout.

The purpose of planograms is to help keep stores efficient. Smaller stores like boutiques, and local or gourmet shops use them to maximize their selling space. And most large retailers utilize them as well. According to an article on The Balance Small Business, the largest U.S. retail chains like Walmart, Costco, Kroger, and Target, use planograms in merchandising to create consistency between store locations, improve visual appeal, and promote product pairing suggestions. They can also help retailers determine how much inventory they will need for each product. There are numerous benefits of planograms. Here is an example of a planogram showing the layout of one set of shelves.

Regardless of the size of the store, retail shelf space is limited and as such a planogram is useful to plan out and maximize space. But a planogram’s ultimate goal is to help the store drive sales. 

Planning for Planograms

So, why should you as a brand owner care about planograms?

Knowing what planograms are and how they work can help you understand the part packaging plays in where things end up getting placed on the retail shelf. Since planograms help retailers maximize shelf space and draw consumers in, it makes sense that a more eye-catching, functional package could find its way to a more visible place on shelves. 

So when designing your package, consider the merchandising plan for the store and how your package’s design, color, size, and overall appeal can play a role in where it’s placed and thus what shoppers notice. That’s why the right materials and the right printing process is so important. You’ll want a quality package that consumers cannot help but notice, and in a package that feels good in their hands, while offering the functionality consumers crave. 

Also, as you create your next package, consider how much shelf space your packaging is taking up. Boxes and jars can be bulky and take up more than their share of valuable shelf space. But if your product is sold in a stand up pouch, for example, it will fit nicely on the shelf and stand on its own.  And since pouches take up less space on shelf than rigid containers, retailers can fit more of your product in the same space. 

A Packaging Partner for Your Planogram Goals

Knowing what is a planogram merchandiser and how retailers use them is essential to creating packaging for brick and mortar stores. Understanding why retailers place products where they do can help you get a sense of what makes a great package. Knowing where your product is on shelf could even encourage you to re-think the logo placement, size of type, or colors, in order to increase shelf appeal. Keep in mind that since retail space is limited in stores of any size, having a package that doesn’t take up a ton of space is an important consideration. Are you thinking about how digitally printed custom pouches can help you stand out on busy store shelves? At ePac, we partner with brands of all sizes to create the best bags and pouches for your project, and they are always digitally printed, using high-quality films with photo-like images. Want to learn more? Call us today for a free quote.

Redesigning Your Flexible Package: The Dos & Don’ts

Whether you’re a new brand launching your first product, or you’ve been in business for a long time, ensuring your packaging design is aligned with your brand is key. As you work to create the look and feel of your packaging that best represents your brand, it’s important to keep in mind some common pitfalls.

To help guide you along in the process, we’ve compiled a list of the dos and don’ts to consider when redesigning your flexible packaging to ensure the end package is exactly what you want. 

One thing to note: While we are flexible packaging experts, we are not designers. However, in the years of working with customers from all different industries, there are a few things we have learned along the way that we want to share with you. 

Don’t: Just Settle on a New Design

Your packaging is oftentimes the very first interaction a consumer has with your brand, which means you want your design to work in your favor. It seems so simple, but don’t just settle on a design. You want your packaging to accurately represent your brand and communicate with your consumers. Partner with an experienced packaging designer to ensure your packaging makes a great first, and ongoing, impression. 

Check out the packaging design transformation from one of our awesome customers, The Gourmet Granola.

Do: Work With a Designer That You Trust

Whether you team up with a freelance designer or an agency, find a designer that you trust and that understands your brand vision. Be clear about your packaging design standards, your branding, and goals up front. Once you find that best designer to partner with, share your branding guidelines including colours, graphics, design elements, and language that you’d like worked into the new design. Remember: your designer brings your vision to life, so partnering with one you trust is key. 

Don’t: Go Too Far Off-Brand

Here’s the thing: you want your current customers to recognize your brand, even with the new design. Work with your designer to ensure there are some elements, like your logo, brand colours, or messaging that remain the same. You want the new package to be an upgrade, but you also want your customer base to recognize your brand on the shelf. 

Do: Engage With Your Customers + Get Them Excited

This is optional, but as you embark on the redesign journey, let your customers in on the process to really ramp up excitement, while simultaneously letting them know they’ll soon see a new package on the shelf. Share sneak peeks of your new packaging on social media, through your customer email list, website, or any other platform that you use to connect with your customers. People love to see a transformation story, so after the redesign is complete, share before and after photos highlighting your new look.

Don’t: Work With a Packaging Company That Can’t Meet Your Timeline 

Regardless of whether you are looking for a quick turnaround, or you have more time to invest in your packaging, we encourage you to find a packaging company that can deliver your product to you in a reasonable amount of time. When interviewing a packaging manufacturer, ask about the total time it will take to complete your order – from prep, to production, to shipping. Don’t let a lower cost cause you to overlook a timeline that could take months to arrive. 

Do: Partner with a Packaging Manufacturer Who Meets Your Needs

This is so important! Consider what you need from your supplier, be it a certain package feature, print quantity, or turnaround time. For example, the differences between conventional printing methods and digital pouch printing can be significant. If you’re on a tight deadline, you’ll need to find out just how quick a timeline and how small a quantity the packaging manufacturer can deliver. Knowing the packaging company’s capabilities and customer service practices allows you to see if they will be the right partner with the best flexible packaging solutions

Ensuring you work with a packaging manufacturer that you know and trust is key. At ePac, we can work with you regardless of what stage you’re in, from the idea and planning stage, to the “I think I’m ready to print” stage. We have a full staff of skilled flexible packaging experts that are ready to help you launch the best flexible package for your brand. Click here to request a free quote, or give us a call at 844-623-8603.

Packaging Design Essentials: What You Need to Stand Out

It’s no secret that a high-quality package with a great design can drive more sales for your brand. Packaging communicates with customers in only a matter of seconds (3 seconds to be exact), and in that time, they decide whether or not to purchase your product. 

With so little time to connect with potential customers, it can be confusing to know which design elements or package features are essential enough to include. As you develop your packaging design, consider essential design elements, brand messaging, and special features to ensure your package stands out.

It’s important for us to note that we specialize in digital printing and flexible packaging, but we’re not packaging designers. What we know is that high-quality design paired with state of the art packaging drives more sales for your brand. 

So, what makes a good packaging design? Let’s dive into the different must-haves of successful packaging and how they impact your business.

Communicate Key Messaging

Packaging has the important role of being the main vehicle for messaging and branding, all while protecting the contents inside. It’s a big job! The first thing an effective product packaging design does is share key information about your product. 

When designing your packaging, it’s important to know the key messages that you want to communicate to consumers, including what the product is, pertinent nutritional information, and why they need it. Keep in mind that consumers may know nothing about the product. What information do they need to know in 3 seconds or less? This information should be easily visible and legible

Here are a few additional things you may want to call out on your packaging design

  • If you’re selling more than one flavor or variety, make the different varieties easy to decipher with graphics, text, and color. 
  • Add important health, nutrition and diet-related information such as:
    • Diet-specific labeling: paleo, vegan, keto, low fat, gluten-free, etc.
    • Ingredient-focused labeling: No added sugars, grain-free, whole grain, sugar-free, no gluten, etc. 
    • Allergen information: Nut free, gluten-free, top allergen-free, etc.
  • Include regulatory information, such as specific health claims, the new nutrition facts labels, or sourcing information.
  • Environmental information, including whether or not your packaging is recyclable, compostable, etc. According to Nielsen, 90% of millennials are willing to pay more for products that contain environmentally friendly or sustainable ingredients.

Lastly, ensure you leave adequate space for any vendor requirements. 

A Great Design is Key

Most Americans (72%) agree that the design of a product’s packaging often influences their purchase decisions when selecting which products to buy. That number jumps to 81% when they are buying a gift, according to a study reported by Ipsos

Bottom line: your packaging design matters, big time. 

Whether you’re designing your packaging in house, or working with a packaging designer, ensure your key messaging is communicated while attracting new customers. A packaging designer will be able to help ensure that you have a clutter-free, balanced design

Consistent Branding Builds A Brand

Great design is paramount, but so is branding. Branding is a strong characteristic of good packaging for it helps to build a strong image and a loyal fan base. As you create your stand-out package, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do you want your package to convey? 
  • How do you want your consumers to feel when they interact with your packaging?
  • What do you want your consumers to take away in 3 seconds or less?
  • What story do you want your packaging to tell?

Have a clear sense of what your brand is and be sure the packaging conveys that, with all design elements, colors, graphics, and language following your branding guidelines

Boost Engagement with Digitally Enhanced Packaging Features 

Taking your design a step further with a digital element is a great way to not only engage with your consumers, but also gain valuable insight into your brand, supply chain logistics, and more. With digital print technology, you have the ability to do the following:

  • Consumer Engagement: Engage and connect with your customers on an entirely different level. Consider adding a QR code or guilloche code to share a giveaway, rewards program, game, recipe, or any additional information you want to share with your customers. 
  • Serialized Track & Trace: If sourcing is important to your brand, you can give your consumers visibility into your product’s journey from origin to retail. You also have the ability to gain insight into your supply chain and logistics efficiencies.
  • Product Authentication: If product authentication is necessary for your product, you can incorporate track and trace technology to your packaging. This can increase consumer loyalty and trust in your brand.

Partner with a Flexible Packaging Company 

At ePac, we specialize in digitally printing our high-quality flexible packaging. With digital printing, bright, vibrant, and precise graphics are our standard. You’ll enjoy endless personalization and differentiation options to create customized packaging so that your brand can reach various markets. Call us today at 844-623-8603 for more information, or click here to get a free quote.

Variable Data Printing: 6 Ways It Can Enhance Your Brand

Your packaging is one of your brands’ most powerful tools. Packaging builds brand awareness, communicates your brand’s message, attracts new customers, and more.

But how can your packaging build your brand? As we get closer to the fall and winter holidays, how can it make your holiday products stand out? What can you do to make all of your special edition products fly off the shelves? And how can you build brand loyalty and consumer interest, with just the design of your packaging?

The answer to all these questions and more is variable data printing (VDP). 

Whether you’re looking for a way to differentiate yourself on the shelf, boost consumer engagement, utilize track-and-trace for security and/or authentication reasons, or even improve your supply chain, digital print technology can help take your brand to the next level. With the help of variable data printing, brands of all sizes can easily take advantage of a variety of different technologies.

In this post, we’re going to dive into:

  • What is variable data printing and how does it work?
  • The different types of variable data printing solutions: both design-based solutions and track-and-trace/consumer engagement based solutions.
  • How brands can utilize each of the solutions.

So how does variable data printing work?

VDP is a form of digital printing that uses information from a database or external file. With VDP, elements such as text, graphics, and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process. There are no printing plates, so it’s just as simple to print one SKU, or design, in a print run as it is to print 10,000 unique designs. 

Variable data printing helps consumer brands take an innovative and unique approach to their packaging, both with design and consumer engagement. There are many ways to utilize VDP and we’re discussing just a few of those options below:

Variable Data Printing: Design Options

It’s no secret that today’s consumers love personalization and customization. Consumers respond to variety in their products, be it flavors, colors, designs or package sizes. With digital printing and VDP, you can easily create a variety of package options all in the same run — whether it be personalized packaging or seasonal packaging with unique design features that shift and change from package to package. 

Product Differentiation

VDP can help brands create product differentiation across the whole package line-up. Think of the popular Coca-Cola campaign with the different bottle labels printed with various names on each. This is created using variable data printing. Each label features a different design, and the process is not slowed as each unique label is printed.

Source: Coca Cola

 

Randomized Designs

There are other design solutions that create randomized designs on each package for a unique experience. At ePac, we leverage HP’s two different technologies to create highly customized designs: mosaic and collage.

With mosaic, there is one seed pattern (or file) that is automatically randomized to print a unique design on each package printed. It works by rotating, zooming, and transposing the colors of that file to create individual designs. Skratch Labs, a Boulder-based nutritional supplement brand, teamed up with ePac to use the HP Mosaic technology to create 10,000 unique pouches for the EF Education First Cycling Team in celebration of the teams’ involvement in The Tour. Click here to read the full story.

Collage automatically randomizes too but differs in that you can control various elements, so that there is some consistency on each package. Both deliver highly visual, entirely unique packaging for each SKU in the run.

Image Source: HP

Variable Data Printing: Interactive Options

The next four solutions are interactive solutions that use unique digital identities, such as a visible QR code or hidden watermark. These marks allow brands to securely track individual products throughout the entire supply chain, and provide customized digital experiences to individual consumers through a mobile interface. These track-and-trace solutions give each product its own special number so brands can associate specific data to a specific package.

Consumer Engagement

Want to increase consumer engagement with the help of your packaging? Using VDP, you’ll be able to print a unique QR code on each package that will take consumers to a specific location, like a webpage or video. There, they can view a recipe, video message, promotion, product instructions, or play a game… the options here are endless.

 

Brand Authentication

For brands looking to highlight a product’s authentication or sourcing information, a QR code can be used on the package to deliver detailed information unique to that individual item. Things like a product verification page, to confirm the authenticity of the product, or a page highlighting where and when it was produced, as well as batch number, manufacturing location and date/time. This also allows consumers to trace a specific product’s journey, from ingredient sourcing to retail.

 

Interactive Recycling Instructions

With interactive recycling instructions, you’re helping consumers learn how and where to recycle your product. The consumer would scan the QR code on the package and go to a webpage or video highlighting information on how to recycle the product. You can also include a rewards program to incentivize consumers to participate. 

Supply Chain Analytics

While the other four solutions are consumer-facing solutions, the fifth one is brand facing, meaning the code is meant for you, the brand owner, not the consumer. With supply chain analytics, you’ll have real-time supply chain data, business intelligence, and anti-counterfeit/diversion intelligence. With this solution, you can capture data at the point of purchase, as well as information from when it was scanned at the warehouse to distribution, all the way to retail. This will enable you to see where the package is and whether it went to the appropriate places. This is all captured and conveyed in an analytics dashboard. Plus, you have the ability to capture consumer data to build a consumer profile, to better understand their purchase habits.

Variable data printing allows you to track the lifecycle of each package that you produce, from where it moves within the warehouse and distribution chain, to how consumers engage with it, and even where it ends up in the recycling stream. You’ll also enjoy endless personalization and differentiation options to create packaging that is as unique as each of your consumers. Plus, you’ll create an engaging experience from a mobile interface, all in your consumers’ hands. 

Partnering with a Digital Printer for Your VDP Project 

Variable data imaging and printing are only available with digital printing. With digital printing at ePac, consumers enjoy all of the solutions VDP has to offer, plus low minimum orders and fast turnaround time. This allows you to be more reactive to market trends, and create personalized or unique packaging for different regions, consumer demographics, or seasons and holidays. At ePac, we can help you with variable data printing services so you can have the right package functionality that your brand needs. Contact us today for a free quote.

Know Your Market: Leveraging Package Design to Influence Buyers

When you think about product packaging, it’s hard not to consider design. What your package looks like is often the first impression you’re making on your customer. And as we know, first impressions are everything. In fact, you have approximately 3 seconds to capture a consumer’s attention.

Let’s say you’ve got a great product that you know consumers will love. The next step is to create the perfect package that will practically leap off the shelf into consumers’ carts. But, how? What are the design elements to consider when creating the right package design? And is design that important?

At ePac, we specialize in digital printing and flexible packaging, and while our team is extremely talented, we aren’t designers. But, what we know for a fact is that high-quality design (including the elements discussed in this post) paired with state of the art packaging drives more sales for your brand. In this post, we’ll discuss the different elements of successful packaging design and how they impact your business.

The Importance of Packaging Design

According to Nielsen, package design is one of the most effective marketing levers, reaching 100% of in-store shoppers at the critical moment of purchase.

The package itself does a lot to capture attention, and ultimately, drive purchase. Nielsen reported that 64% of consumers try a new product because the package catches their eye, and 41% will continue to purchase a product because they prefer its packaging.

So, what design elements should you consider to ensure that it is your package that is catching their eye?

Packaging Design Elements That Sell

First thing is first, you must take the time to really know your consumer and know what your consumer wants.

Consider the target market and all the traits of your consumer. Where do they live? How old are they? What’s important to them? What are their daily struggles? What do they like? Dislike? How do they want to feel? What do they enjoy doing? We recommend doing a quick Google search for ‘Customer Avatar Questions’ to really dial down your target market if you haven’t done so already.

Maybe your ideal customers are busy moms that are looking for products for healthy and easy meal prep. Or maybe it’s the guy that loves the outdoors and needs a perfect on-the-go snack. Maybe it’s a product geared toward Millennials, who love to talk about their favorite brands on social media. A great design should be tailored to your target market(s) and what’s important to them.

When creating the package design, also consider where the consumer will purchase your product; at the grocery store, convenience store, or online, and consider the story your package will tell in that environment.

Another consideration in today’s market is how your package will look on social media and on online retailers. Design in person is very different than design that lives primarily on an ecommerce platform. Focus on how your product looks on the shelf and on a screen if you plan to sell in multiple channels. If you hope to see your packaging being shared on social media platforms, consider if your packaging is“Instagram-worthy”. Will your consumers be photographing themselves using it?

Photo credit: Sarah’s Snacks

Use the colors and design that best fit your consumer base and how they will engage with your package.

Understanding Color Psychology

The use of color can be more powerful than you think. According to Empowered By Color, “the colors you choose should send the right subliminal messages to inspire any potential customer to buy your product.”

Different colors stand for different things and encourage different feelings. For example, green evokes a feeling of nature and well-being and because of this is commonly used for natural, healthy and organic foods. Consider the color red, which means energy, action, passion, and excitement. Red helps you to make a bold statement. Purple packaging implies luxury and uniqueness. It is also the color for imagination and spirituality. Blue signals trust, honesty and strength, and the color blue are generally liked by both male and female.

The brightness, dullness, and tone of a color can also elicit different emotions in consumers.

A simple Google search can reveal the psychological meanings of just about every color you can imagine.

When looking at color, consider the target market’s age, sex, economic status, and culture. Keep in mind that different cultures respond differently to color, so have a firm grasp of your target market before choosing the color for your package.

In other words, do your research! We encourage you to partner with a branding agency or designer when deciding on your packaging colors and design to ensure you’re communicating with your target market(s) effectively.

Design and Graphics Speak Louder Than Words

According to a study from WePack, color and imagery are what most catches the attention of consumers. We already covered the importance of color; now consider what sort of design or imagery you can use to quickly tell the brand story.

Maybe it’s an image of the key ingredient of the food, like whole grains, to promote the healthfulness of the product. Or, maybe it’s a picture of how to use the product, such as a bathtub for bubble bath. This is when the design experts really come in — how can you quickly communicate who you are as a brand in a couple of seconds?

Photo credit: Evolve Brands

Choose an image that will resonate with your consumer, and don’t forget to have fun with your package design. This is your chance to share with consumers what’s important to your brand, and relay who your brand is. A good package design should make consumers feel something, whether it’s calm, happy, empowered, nostalgic, empowered, or even just hungry.

Digital Printing for High Definition Design

Whether you opt for fun and playful images, bright or pastel colors, or a more serious design, high-impact graphics go a long way to capture consumer attention and keep them engaged. With digital printing, bright, vibrant, and precise graphics are a standard. The quality of graphics exceeds that of conventional printing methods, is capable of matching existing product lines, and registers perfectly for every image printed.

At ePac, our wide-web digital printing technology gives you the freedom of personalization for customized packaging and messaging for your brand to reach various markets. Shorter runs mean more opportunity to create various flavors and customization to meet consumer demand in target markets.

Contact us today to learn how digital printing creates perfect high-definition graphics on each package, every time.