A Smarter Future For Labels
By Mike Fairley, global label industry expert
The future potential and growth for labels will not so much be about the printed content and presentation, but increasingly about making labels cleverer, smarter and more intelligent.
Why is the marketplace actively looking for smarter, more intelligent label solutions? There are many diverse answers:
• To aid distribution, handling and storage operations
• To keep food fresher longer in transit, on store shelves and in consumers’ refrigerators
• To indicate damage or shocks to packs and goods in transit
• To show product deterioration with food and pharmaceuticals
• To help asset management and assist returns control
• To help eliminate counterfeiting and improve brand protection
• To speed up checking and reading processes
• To offer a means of authenticating products and packs
This list does not include some of the more traditional, clever label solutions, or the developments that have been taking place in RFID smart labels over the past three or four years. I’m talking about many of the newer intelligent and smart solutions that have been introduced in the past one or two years, and products that are only just being launched in the market.
Just take some of the most recent advances in labels that have been developed for keeping food—and some types of drugs—fresher for longer or at least can stop the products from deteriorating before use. Labels for example, that are oxygen or ethylene scavenging; moisture or odor absorbing; and those that are freshness, microbial growth or pack leakage indicators.
Perhaps some of the more sophisticated solutions are labels that are hydrogen sulphide-indicating, to warn of specific pack leakage and/or provide information on disruption in the cold chain, or specially designed oxygen indicating labels that warn of pack leakage in modified atmosphere packaging, or labels that can be used to indicate the freshness of fruit or to stop it deteriorating too quickly.