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Label printers for Natasha’s Law: what are my options?

“While thermal printers can be pricier, the cost saving and the return on investment is far superior than the inkjet printer.”
31st Aug 2021

In just two months, the UK Food Information Amendment 2019 will apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to all businesses selling Prepacked for Direct Sale Foods (PPDS Foods).

According to the new rules, food outlets offering PPDS food items will have to clearly display the following information on the PPDS packaging:

  • name of the food

  • full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised (for example in bold, italics or a different colour)

The need for a Natasha’s Law label printer solution:

In order to meet new FSA requirements, it is recommended that food outlets forego old school handwritten labels in preference to printed. We understand finding the right hardware solution can be challenging, so wanted to provide an overview of the widely available printer types in 2021, and what we consider their best applications.

We sat down with Ben Toft, Solutions Sales Consultant with Peak Ryzex, End-to-End Provider of Supply Chain, Mobility and Retail Solutions in the UK, who talked us through the food business' printer options. For over 35 years, Peak Technologies has been at the forefront of providing end-to-end enterprise mobility, managed services, printing and mobile data capture solutions for performance-driven organizations focused on the optimization of supply chain and field-based business processes. Ben, who has 7 years of experience in the hospitality industry, joined Peak in 2020, after serving as Key Account and Sales Channel Manager with Navitas.

Read our conversation with Ben below:

How can accurate and efficient food labelling improve customer experience?

"I think the current legislation change [Natasha’s Law] will only benefit the industry. It provides transparency to those who need it. Customers definitely deserve to know what's in their food, and accurate food labelling is the most powerful vehicle we have in getting that information across. And at the end of the day, better informed customers are happier customers."

Describe the challenges faced by smaller vs. larger food businesses in providing accurate food labels?

"I think for the smaller outlets, when there are so many options out there, choosing a labelling solution can be difficult. In addition, the pandemic has hit many small businesses hard, making the implementation of a new solution very difficult from a revenue perspective.

For this reason, some small businesses will opt for pre printed labels. The difficulty is that if an outlet changes the menu multiple times, they will require an end-to-end automated solution capable of reflecting recipe changes in labels.

From the larger outlet business perspective, where multi site operators are concerned, the workload will be shaved down considerably. They can implement the same solution across multiple outlets, making life a lot easier. This way, recipe management for the chain can be controlled from one production for example."

Can you briefly describe the difference between thermal and inkjet printers?

"Inkjet printers actually use ink to print. These printers are most common in homes and small offices, though some businesses choose to use them for printing food labels. The problem is that meeting demands for ink on an ongoing basis can be pricey. In addition, inkjet printers demand A4 sheets with set label quantities. If printing for example 4 required labels on a 6 label sheet, 2 are wasted.

Thermal printers do not use ink and instead use heating elements to activate or transfer pigments, meaning no ink is required. In addition, label rolls are used in thermal printing, meaning on demand printing and no label waste. While thermal printers can be pricier, the cost saving and the return on investment is far superior than the inkjet printer. Cartridges can be expensive!"

Note: In a label cost analysis done by Nutritics, thermal printing was found to save a business 25% over a three year period. For businesses printing 4000 labels a month, Inkjet is estimated to cost £62/month vs. £46/month for thermal printing.

Would you have one piece of advice for people hoping to get their labels in order for Natasha’s Law?

"The pandemic and Brexit have seen the hardware supply take a hit so if you're intending to buy a printer in time for Natasha’s Law implementation, go out and order one or as soon as possible, because there is a huge shortage of printers."

Key Takeaways:

  • Multisite operators should prioritise implementing the same solution across multiple outlets to cut down on labour.

  • Thermal printers provide far superior return on investment than the inkjet printer, due to absence of ongoing ink costs and label wastage.

  • The pandemic and Brexit have slowed our supply chains… If you require a printer in time for Natasha’s Law, buy now!