The new EU labelling regulation with its obligatory nutritional value information is in the starting blocks. For manufacturers, this means an increase in printing effort, costs and an increase in data traffic.
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In order to prepare them for this future workload, Bizerba has increased the performance of its labellers whilst also developing a system solution for QR codes so that the new data can be prepared on the Internet in a way that will be effective from an advertising point of view – meaning that they can off-set part of their costs. Experts discussed the future of this technology at a Bizerba round table.
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The new obligations
The European Parliament adopted the new EU labelling regulation 1169/2011 at the end of last year. According to this regulation, as of 13 December 2014, all manufacturers of prepacked foods must highlight any and all allergens and food modifications, list the big five nutritional values in table form and indicate the exact origin of the product. This obligatory information is designed to enable the consumer to select products according to his or her individual nutritional needs. However, more transparency for the consumer means more time and money for the manufacturer.
Background technology is going from strength to strength
Bizerba increased the performance of its labellers as early as last year. The GLM-Imaxx has a stronger CPU, a faster graphics processor and new communication architecture that displays high performance even in the case of large volumes of data. In addition, Bizerba has set up new database fields for nutritional values and developed an applicator to apply the C-Wrap labels to the packaging. These labels are enjoying a high degree of popularity in the market as they wrap around the product on three sides and facilitate optimum space management. As a result, manufacturers are prepared for the future workload and throughput remains stable – despite the increase in data traffic, space needs and printing effort.
In for a penny, in for a pound: reuse data in a manner perfect for advertising – offset costs
Quite a while ago, before the new regulation was adopted, Bizerba worked on a new communication system that allowed food manufacturers to produce QR codes with dynamic content for their products. They can manage origin and production data with the help of the _datamaintenance.BRAIN software and pass this on to external data providers, for example to mynetfair and fTrace, via the Internet. Here, recipes, photos and additional purchase recommendations can be stored. Using mobile tagging, consumers can access this information by scanning the QR code with their smartphone.
So what's the point of all of this? Dieter Conzelmann, Director of Industry Solutions at Bizerba, explains: "The new EU regulation will cost manufacturers time and money. We have found a solution to help them compensate for the majority of costs in sourcing and management of the data using online marketing: for example, if I know the location and conditions of the rearing, I can reuse this information in a way that is effective from an advertising point of view and show it on a Google map."
How does the future look? Experts held discussions at Anuga FoodTec
Experts from the food industry met during the Anuga FoodTec trade fair in Cologne in order to attend the Bizerba round table meeting and discuss how food manufacturers, retailers and machine suppliers can best implement the requirements of the new EU labelling regulation. Participants included Dieter Conzelmann (Director of Industry Solutions at Bizerba), Angela Schillings-Schmitz (Senior Manager for the Meat Industry at GS1 Germany) and Christoph Rösener (Head of IT at Bauerngut Fleisch- und Wurstwaren).
As manufacturers will soon need to make more data available, they can also put this straight into the QR code and use it for additional online marketing in order to develop their profile and recoup some of the new costs. The experts even believe that they need to do this in order to remain competitive. However, they have observed a lack of standardisation and tendency towards proliferation as big companies are creating expensive individual solutions to collect their own production data and that of their suppliers and pass it on to external data providers. Christoph Rösener emphasised that suppliers are becoming frustrated with constantly different interfaces whilst the experts also highlighted that small companies lack the capital for such development work.
The experts were agreed that the industry now needs a standard. Conzelmann was convinced that GS1 could be of great help when considering how a concept could be rolled out all over Europe. He hoped that in future there would be clear orientation, the opportunity to provide the customer with a standardised low-investment system and emphasised that Bizerba could set the technology to such a standard within a short reaction period. Angela Schillings-Schmitz was on the same wavelength but highlighted the enormous challenges in terms of the coordination process. She believed that there was a lack of companies who would be willing to actively participate in developing a standardised message format. However, the experts were agreed that the QR code would be of great value in terms of this considerable effort and expense, as it offers new options not only for marketing but also for retraceability and crisis management.