Industrial Marking & Coding: Pet Food Packaging Solutions

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The modern pet food industry is a thriving and valuable market. Driven by rising pet adoptions, an increased interest in premium formulas, and a growing e-commerce space, today’s pet food market is increasing in both value and product diversity. To satisfy growing customer demand, pet food producers now face higher production volumes and longer production runs than ever before.

Along with unprecedented product demand, pet food companies also need to comply with increasingly stringent traceability requirements to sell their products. As in the case of human food, the Food and Drug Administration enforces strict labeling requirements that require pet food products to display:

  • Product identification statements
  • Manufacturing/packaging location information 
  • Traceable information (e.g., lot codes, batch numbers, etc.)
  • Expiration date

If this information is improperly applied or absent, pet food companies are liable to face fines, product recalls, and, in the most extreme cases, legal action.

Fortunately, maintaining high operational efficiency and achieving code compliance isn’t difficult when you have the right solution with ink and hardware for the task. At InkJet, Inc., we offer a variety of custom inks complementing our industrial coding technologies that are ideal for marking & coding pet food packaging. Here’s how our equipment can improve your operation.

The Importance of Properly Coded Pet Food Packaging

In March 2007, the FDA discovered that a variety of pet foods were poisoning cats and dogs across the country. With this new information, the FDA launched an investigation into the cause of this widespread poisoning.

Working with the USDA, the FDA traced the contamination back to a single Chinese company that was supplying tainted ingredients to some of the most popular pet food brands on the market. As a result of this investigation, more than 150 brands of pet food voluntarily pulled their products off of the market.

Shelves of pet food

While this event is tragic, it clarifies just how important traceability is to the pet food industry. Traceable markings like lot codes and batch codes allow pet food manufacturers to keep a clear record of which ingredients they used to create a product and where they sourced these ingredients from. By applying these codes to every product unit, pet food companies can quickly respond to emergencies and keep pets safe.

Due to the importance of traceability, all pet food manufacturers today must place traceable markings on every product they produce. Together with labeling standards set by the Federal Trade Commission, pet food companies must place the following information on their products:

  • Name of the product
  • Product’s net quantity
  • Name and address of the manufacturer
  • Ingredient list
  • Expiration date
  • Lot code
  • Batch code

While a stock label can include much of this information, variable data and traceable information naturally vary from batch to batch. Therefore, companies need to apply this data on a product-by-product basis.

Thankfully, marking & coding pet food packaging is easy when you have the right combination of hardware and ink.

Multiple Printer Options To Meet Diverse Packaging Needs

The pet food industry is diverse in many ways. Not only do the products greatly vary from company to company, but other factors do as well, including:

  • Output volume
  • Preferred packaging material
  • Facility environmental factors

Each of these elements influences whether a marking system will be able to meet operational requirements.

To meet the needs of different companies, InkJet, Inc. offers a wide variety of marking equipment, ranging from compact thermal inkjet printers and high-resolution case coders to industrial-speed continuous inkjet printers and laser marking systems. With these options, pet food companies of all sizes and specialties can boost operational efficiency and ensure code compliance.

Some of our most popular coding options include:

Cans of pet food and loose dry formula

The DuraCode Continuous Inkjet Printer: Designed to mark packages at speeds above 300 m/min, the DuraCode codes both porous and non-porous substrates uninterrupted for up to 24 hours a day. Built with an IP55 outer structure and able to operate in temperatures ranging from 41-113° F, the DuraCode CIJ can withstand potentially hazardous environmental elements to deliver quality coding results.

The Anser U2 Pro-S Thermal Inkjet Printer: Compact and cost-effective, the Anser U2 Pro-S is a great hardware choice for operations that don’t require the industrial marking speeds offered by CIJ printers. Although the Pro-S’s physical footprint is small, it can still create required product markings at speeds up to 120 m/min and machine-scannable codes at 600 x 300 DPI on a variety of porous and non-porous materials.

The Anser X1 Thermal Inkjet Printer: While the Anser X1 may be a thermal inkjet printer, you wouldn’t know it from its high-speed marking capabilities. Printing at speeds up to 300 m/min, the Anser X1 is one of the most powerful TIJ models on the market today. Beyond industrial speed marking, the Anser X1 offers a number of other impressive features, including a max resolution of 600 x 600 DPI, a 1.97-inch print height (with stitched printheads), IP66 protection, and the ability to control two different production lines simultaneously.

LightJet F8200 Series Laser Marking System: Fast, accurate, and capable of delivering high-quality code results, laser systems are becoming increasingly more popular across the pet food packaging spectrum. InkJet, Inc.’s own LightJet system offers a max marking speed of 2,000 characters per second, making it a great option for high-volume production lines.

Precision Series 72 High-Resolution Case Coder

Precision Series 72 High-Resolution Case Coder: Designed to print directly onto cardboard shipping cartons, the Precision Series 72 allows users to replace physical labels with directly applied codes, text, and images. If you’re looking to improve your secondary packaging processes, the Precision Series 72 can help you reduce physical labeling needs for higher overall efficiency.

Of course, if you are planning to use a printer to mark your pet food packaging, it’s crucial to find the perfect ink as well. At InkJet, Inc., we offer a wide selection of inks, as well as custom formulas, to suit most operational needs and printer compatibility.

Successful Marking & Coding on Pet Food Packaging Hinges on Ink Choice

When it comes to efficiently marking & coding pet food packaging, hardware choice is only one piece of the puzzle. Unless you are using a laser marking system to code your pet food packaging, you will also need to consider what kind of ink will work best for your needs.

Just as there is no “one size fits all” printer when it comes to pet food marking, there is no single ink formula, either. Instead, the market is filled with different inks that all have their own unique properties and substrate compatibility.

Icon showing the different kinds of pet food packaging

At InkJet, Inc., we maintain a diverse ink portfolio that meets the needs of different pet food packaging operations. Our offerings include formulas that are compatible with the most popular pet food packaging materials, such as:

Further, our ink development team has created a variety of specialty inks intended to aid processing techniques unique to the pet food packaging field. Some of our most popular specialty inks offer the following properties:

  • Heat-resistance
  • Alcohol-resistance
  • Moisture-resistance
  • Thermochromic/color changing qualities
  • Fast drying times
  • Food safe qualities 
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Ready To Improve Your Pet Food Packaging Processes? Call InkJet, Inc. Today

If you’re in the pet food business, you likely already know the importance of product traceability.

Not only is properly coded product packaging essential to keeping animals safe and healthy, but federal and state laws also require traceable markings and other label elements. To ensure that your products are up to code, it’s crucial to have the right marking solution to meet your needs. At InkJet, Inc., we can help you find it.

Over the last 30 years, the team at InkJet, Inc. has been helping companies across the packaging world achieve code compliance with the help of custom-built marking solutions. Contact us today to learn which solution may be right for you.

To learn more about how InkJet, Inc. can help you complete marking & coding on pet food packaging, contact us online today or call 1(800) 280-3245.

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