• 06 FEB 18

    Meeting Consumers’ Expectations

    Consistency and conformity of product and package presentation give consumers the confidence in their brand choice. In this blog, concerning conformity of packaged food, we consider the top four consumer expectations and the inspection technologies which meet them.

     

    1. The Product Must be Safe to Consume

    Consumers expect packaged food to be:

    • Free from physical contaminants.
    • Of high quality.
    • Free of bacterial contamination.
    • Safe to consume with applicable ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates.
    • Labelled clearly, displaying all nutritional information and allergen declarations.

    Inspection solutions for manufacturers:

    Physical contaminant detection technologies inspect all packages in real time and remove those containing unwanted foreign bodies from production. The potential types of contaminants that could enter the product and the type of packaging material will determine the choice of detection system. For example, metal detection is best placed to detect ferrous, non-ferrous and stainless steel metals in packaging including products packed in metallized film.

    There are certain factors which can affect the quality of the product and potentially lead to bacterial contamination. These range from dense product trapped underneath the seal or film to incorrect vacuum to product ratio causing a risk of bacteria to form. Advanced x-ray technology simultaneously conducts all these quality assurance checks whilst vision inspection software verifies the content of all labels at high production speeds, according to pre-programmed information. Vision technologies ensure that the correct allergen information and expiration dates are clearly displayed.

    2. The Packaged Product is High Quality

    Consumers need to have confidence in the integrity of the product and how it is presented, this includes:

    • Every pack and each item within a package is uniform e.g. no missing or broken components, and at the same fill level.
    • It is at the correct weight.
    • No packaging defects, for example no dents.
    • The label is correctly positioned.
    • The packaged product is complete with the appropriate cap or closure.
    • If a tamper-proof seal if used, then this must still be intact.
    • Branding guidelines are upheld.

    Inspection solutions for manufacturers:

    • Presentation integrity examinations, such as confirming the correct amount or counts, for example number of items and/or fill levels, plus inspecting for packaging imperfections is made possible by x-ray technology.  X-ray can also verify the presence of closures (e.g. lids or caps).
    • Checkweighing technology confirms the product weight is within pre-agreed weight tolerances.
    • Vision technology inspects label positioning, checks that the correct closure is used and verifies the integrity of tamper-proof seal. The software can also confirm that branding guidelines, such as the correct use of colours, have been upheld.

    3. The Product is as Advertised

    Consumers expect all packaged products to:

    • Contain the correct instructions e.g. refrigeration details.
    • Weigh the advertised amount.
    • Have the correct number of packs, for example within a multipack.

    Inspection solutions for manufacturers:

    4. Consumers Can Trust the Brand

    Consumers are ideally looking for consistency and reliability in their choice of repeat purchase.

    Inspection solutions for manufacturers:

    • Repeated conformity evokes consumer confidence. Irrespective of where a brand sits, within a low to premium price range, the quality values need to be repeatedly upheld. This can only be achieved by integrating real time integrity checks into a robust food safety and quality assurance programme.
    • For food safety regulation requirements, and in the event of a product recall, manufacturers need to prove due diligence to authorities. To uphold brand reputation, brand owners should quickly communicate the fault to the public, be able to trace products and effectively rectify the error. Product inspection technologies monitor and collect all quality assurance activities to give manufacturers the information they need to achieve this.

    To accomplish the four main expectations, manufacturers do not need a large number of stand-alone product inspection machines. Advancements in inspection technologies enable x-ray and vision systems to perform multiple brand integrity checks simultaneously plus combination machines are available. Checkweighing technology can easily combine with metal detection, x-ray and/or vision within one machine. This not only overcomes production space constraints but improves production line efficiencies to ensure that consumer expectations are continually met.

    For more detailed information about how to achieve conformity, please download ‘Ensuring Conformity of Packaged Food’.

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