The food we buy and the way we buy it are some of the major indicators of our health awareness, environmental concerns and shopping habits. Older consumers want more flexibility in their food choices, while younger shoppers demand easy-to-prepare, single-serve meals.

Today, consumers are also taking into account the needs of the planet as well as their stomachs. They often buy food and drink according to the size of the carbon footprint it creates. Is it worth buying, for example, those blueberries flown in from Israel, or should you wait until they’re in season where you live?

Along with health consideration and nutritional awareness, the packaging of food has a huge role to play in helping a shopper make their decision to buy; we spend longer than ever poring over our purchasing decisions and need to get answers if we’re to go through with a purchase.

On the frontlines of the supermarket battleground, where big brands slug it out to grab attention and influence purchase decisions, the journey from shelf to cart to checkout starts with strong, branded packaging.

Food packaging printers are helping to make bolder and better packaging more commonplace.

Cans, boxes and bottles are making way for lighter, more portable packaging options. Food and beverage firms are having to come up with new forms of packaging to suit the rapidly expanding options the consumer tastes demand, at a consistently low price.

Folding cartons, flexible containers and limited edition one-offs are marks of more niche products. If these cottage-industry items and product line extensions come on to market, there’s a need for cost-effective and inventive packaging options that help to sell them.

The steady growth in folding carton production now accounts for almost $150 billion of end user value, within the global $900 billion print industry. Of that, $81 billion is generated in orders for the food and beverage industry, firmly cementing its position as the biggest sector of the folding carton market.

When it comes to branding this packaging, companies have called upon print technological solutions such as lithography, flexography and gravure. They have set the standard for quality, but they are struggling to meet the quick turnarounds, short runs and custom production requirements increasingly seen in the food and beverage industry.

Digital print technologies have been used satisfactorily to produce mainly niche packaging solutions, as they are constrained by limited substrate choices, fewer media formats and colours. It is also expensive, with hefty total cost of ownership investment (TCO) needed. Short-run digital printing is, therefore, rarely profitable.

Landa Nanography could be the way forward in terms of food packaging printers. These printing presses support all off-the-shelf food packaging substrates, without the need for pre-treatment. They will also work conveniently alongside existing flexo and gravure converting apparatuses, with no bespoke operating environments being needed.

This solution boasts the lowest cost per sheet of any digital print system, easing the TCO burden on budgets, showing real promise of being the golden solution to delivering the flexible, high quality food packaging that the sector now craves.

The technology that is on a par with the high quality offered by traditional analogue print technology, while offering the flexibility of short-run, variable print output. The best of both worlds? Time will tell but they’ll be an awful lot of brands in the food industry watching on with interest.

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