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Navigating the New Era of Food Labelling: Transparency, Traceability, and Technology

Navigating the New Era of Food Labelling: Transparency, Traceability, and Technology Blockchain technology for food traceability, Consumer demand for ethical food sourcing, Digital labelling in food packaging, Impact of Natasha's Law on food packaging, Interactive packaging for consumer engagement, Mandatory front-of-pack nutritional labelling, Nutritional information labelling trends, Reducing food waste with date coding, Sustainability practices in food labelling, Transparency in the food and beverage industry Food and Beverage Business

In a world where consumers demand more information about the food they eat, the food and beverage industry is undergoing significant changes in labelling and coding practices. The push for transparency and traceability has led to new regulations and trends, shaping the way products are presented and information is conveyed. This article explores the updated 2024 landscape of food labelling, highlighting key developments and consumer-driven trends impacting the industry.

 

The Evolving Landscape of Food Labelling in 2024

One major shift is the push for enhanced transparency and traceability across the entire food supply chain. Mandatory country of origin labelling in many countries now provides consumers with more details on the geographic source of their foods. The EU recently expanded these rules to cover more food categories, underscoring the importance consumers place on localized production.

Digital technologies are also playing a growing role in improving traceability from farm to fork. Some milk brands now use QR code labels allowing customers to see the location and living conditions of the cows that produced the milk. Blockchain-enabled labels can trace ingredients back to their exact origins on farms and facilities. Terms like “ocean to plate” communicate broader sourcing sustainability practices to ethically-minded shoppers.

Navigating the New Era of Food Labelling: Transparency, Traceability, and Technology Blockchain technology for food traceability, Consumer demand for ethical food sourcing, Digital labelling in food packaging, Impact of Natasha's Law on food packaging, Interactive packaging for consumer engagement, Mandatory front-of-pack nutritional labelling, Nutritional information labelling trends, Reducing food waste with date coding, Sustainability practices in food labelling, Transparency in the food and beverage industry Food and Beverage Business

Another priority has been enhancing food nutrition, safety, and allergen labelling to better inform consumer health. Front-of-pack nutritional labels are now required in the EU, providing clear at-a-glance facts about calories, fats, sugars and salt. Some brands are experimenting with alternative formats like health star ratings. Allergen labelling has also been strengthened following high-profile cases like Natasha’s Law in the UK, which improved allergen traceability and mandated takeaways to list full ingredients. Consumers today also want more specifics on food additives, preservatives, production methods and certifications like “organic” or “non-GMO.”

Date labelling has also been overhauled in many countries to cut down on food waste. New guidance on the meaning of Use By and Best Before dates helps prevent consumers from prematurely discarding edible food. Manufacturers are pioneering new time-temperature sensors to provide dynamic expiration dates based on real-time conditions, increasing safety while reducing unnecessary waste. Consumer education campaigns reinforce that Best Before dates are about optimal quality rather than safety.

As populations become more diverse, food labels are also adapting to serve the needs of different groups and cultures. Labels increasingly appear in multiple languages, use more visual cues, and provide special dietary certifications like gluten-free, vegan, Halal and Kosher. GMO labels enable personal value-based choices. And regulations now mandate that nutritional labels are legible and clear regardless of age, literacy levels or disabilities.

Looking to the future, we can expect food labelling to keep evolving alongside technology and consumer demands. While labels will likely grow more sophisticated with innovations like digital integration, the core goal will remain the same – equipping shoppers with the details needed to make informed choices about the foods they buy. Achieving the ideal balance between simple clarity and comprehensive transparency will be key.

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The Importance of Product Traceability in Food and Beverage

Product traceability plays a vital role in upholding food safety across the supply chain. It provides manufacturers the ability to effectively manage operations and address any contamination issues or recalls.

Through traceability codes like barcodes and batch numbers, crucial data on a product’s origin, packaging date, and shelf life becomes readily accessible. This information conveys essential details on safety attributes and lifespan to assure consumers. In the event of a product recall, these codes allow swift, precise identification of affected items so manufacturers can quickly locate and isolate compromised products.

However, traceability involves more than just making data available. It also requires ensuring prints and markings are clear and durable enough to serve their purpose. High-quality coding and marking equipment is essential for consistent, accurate product coding.

Beyond fulfilling traceability needs, the right coding systems also enhance productivity through swift labeling speeds, streamlined code creation, minimized downtime, and reduced application errors. When selecting equipment, factors like printing resolution, durability, and integration with existing lines should be considered.

For high-speed production, Continuous Inkjet Printers apply sharp, lasting variable codes suitable for traceability. Thermal Inkjet Printers are compact and portable while still delivering high-resolution printing. Print and Apply Labeling streamlines the label process with user-friendly, continuous results.

With consumer demands rising, effective coding and marking solutions are imperative for brands to deliver the transparency, ethics, and safety today’s shoppers expect. The ability to quickly and reliably trace products from ingredients to table is no longer just a best practice – it is a requirement.