By Cassandra Balentine
Brands producing relatively small amounts of many products require variability in labeling. Food product companies also run into freshness and compliance concerns in this department. Without a proper labeling strategy, these brands face many challenges for growth.
One food provider, Kanani Foods, based in Las Vegas, NV, decided to gain control of its in-house label production as part of a strategic growth plan.
Committed to Success
Founded in 1999 as a wholesale food provider, Kanani Foods offers a variety of products. The company underwent management restructuring in 2010 and started a period of growth that it has sustained for the past six years. It currently employs a staff of 130 and operates two production facilities in Las Vegas. One facility handles bakery production and the other ready-to-eat, or “grab-and-go” items.
The company operates distribution routes for these foods in Southern CA as well as AZ and NV and is planning expansion to Northern CA.
A lot has changed since its beginning. “Back in 1999, Kanani Foods was a small company and not that worried about compliance,” suggests Tim Cruz, GM, Kanani Foods. From 2004 to 2006 it printed A3 labels using Microsoft templates. The need to advance its label production was clear at this point.
The company invested in thermal print technology from Century Systems, Inc., utilizing a Monarch thermal printer and related software for labels. The setup accommodated up to ten different SKUs and 100 labels for each SKU. “This solution was effective until the company reached 2,000 units a day in production. At that number, the thermal printing solution became too cumbersome and time consuming,” says Cruz.
The food provider needed a way to print a variety of labels on demand and decided to look into digital alternatives. “We knew nothing about printing labels, but we knew that we needed to change the way we produced them,” explains Cruz.
Kanani Foods sought advice from someone more experienced in this area. After meeting Glen Fullerton, project manager, Vivid Data Group, the company decided it had found its expert and consulted with him on a list of issues that were holding them back, as well as future goals. Fullerton recommended the Afinia L801 printer, an inkjet device powered by Memjet technology.
Cruz says the Afinia L801 printer is a great fit. Soon after implementation, it performed daily, in-house production of high-quality labels with graphics for an expanding number of products. “This printer has the capability to produce all these labels, with all these variations, quickly and efficiently. That’s powerful for our small company.”
Because it is a small organization, its employees tend to wear many hats. “The company’s chef is also in charge of label production. Because he was familiar with the old label printing system—and was familiar with a number of computer programs involved in the process—it wasn’t a big stretch for him to begin using the new printer,” shares Cruz.
After training provided by Fullerton, the company’s label printing process was up and running, without the need to hire anyone with printing or design expertise.
“The move to digital printing was a key part in our growth,” explains Cruz. “If you think about how to grow, labels are one of the biggest factors to consider.”
The company believes that as the business and demand for more labels continues to grow, its existing team will be able to use the Afinia L801 to support label production.
Kanani Foods produces over 300 SKUs a day, each requiring a different number of labels. This can be anywhere from ten to 500 labels. “All of these labels need to be in compliance with all required regulations, including best-buy date, ingredients, and USDA details,” explains Cruz.
Its own label designs are created in house, along with all compliance information. The label dimensions vary by product and include 2×2, 4×2, 4×4, and 6×2 inches, and three inches round.
The Afinia L801 allows the company to print all of its labels using a batch print. The data needed for daily production is received from the accounting system and fed into NiceLabel Software and the labels are produced.
Labels are sent to the printer in batches based on label size. For example, 50 labels are produced in a batch, once that batch is completed, the printer cuts the labels and begins printing the next set.
Once printed, the labels are manually applied to food products. The company operates a top-aunto and clamshell labeler, and plans to use the backroller feature of the Afinia to feed the labels into an automated label solution in the near future.
Kanani Foods prints onto plain gloss labels of various sizes.
The physical labor of printing labels was a large cost for the food company. When it used thermal printing, it took two and a half seconds to print one label, and because there was no batch process, jobs were sent manually to the printer over and over again. “As a result, it would take one person about seven hours to print the labels each day,” estimates Cruz.
The Afinia L801 enables the company to “pump out labels,” says Cruz. Because of this, a process that used to take all day now takes 25 minutes. This speed enables Kanini Foods to report a 94 percent savings in labor by transitioning to digital print technology. “This breakdown comes from the labor and materials savings from printing 20,000 labels a day,” explains Cruz. “The labor required for print went from 12 hours to two hours a day, an 84 percent savings. The price of purchasing blank labels at three to four cents versus preprinted at an average of ten cents dropped the overall label cost an additional ten percent,” he continues.
“This efficiency of printing, combined with the savings in the cost of media has resulted in a total cost savings that cannot be underestimated,” stresses Cruz.
A Day in the Life
Kanani Foods took control over its labeling bottleneck, consulting with professionals and installing a solution that best fit current and future needs.
“Labels were an obstacle in the way of growth for Kanani Foods. Having the ability to handle a wide range of SKUs and produce so many types of labels on demand digitally has made all the difference and enabled us to grow,” says Cruz.
The company is currently looking to undergo a geographical expansion of its business by building a central database repository for its labels to service combined distributed locations.
Apr2017, Industrial Print Magazine