CPG Roundup: Latest Printing Trends in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry (Part 2)

In Part One of this look at the challenges facing the packaging for CPG industry and the opportunities that industrial inkjet provides, we looked at trends in consumer tastes and preferences as drivers of change.  In Part Two, we look at more macro, market-level forces driving change.

Megatrends in Packaging: Is Digital the Answer?

CPG and Retail Margin Compression

Many CPGs are losing the battle for shelf space and margin growth, which is increasing pressure on suppliers such as packaging manufacturers to decrease cost. That is likely to continue, and will likely have consequences on the full value chain that’s selling into consumer packaged goods,” said Feber.

inkjetted nescafe lid

Inkjet printed consumer packaging can make your products stand out on the grocery store shelf.

In addition, a shift is taking place in terms of which companies are gaining share in categories, with small and medium-sized brands growing dramatically over the larger brands in their categories. “It’s occurring everywhere, and it’s changing the way a lot of us are positioned, in terms of our companies and the assets and who we sell to and how we design product, and it’s putting a requirement on us to become a bit more agile,” said Feber. “The more agile players will likely be the ones that pick the right winners going forward.”

He emphasized that these trends are putting downward pressure on margins. Store sales are decreasing, and that’s trickling all the way through to EBITA and return on investment capital within retail and within CPG. “It is a real challenge for the industry, which is why you see a lot of pivoting and a lot of diversification,” he said. “It’s going to continue to create a lot of pressure back on the channel on packaging, in terms of cost effectiveness, in terms of making sure packaging is really enabling a brands’ narrative and all the elements of that that are required.”

What does this mean for packaging producers?  Quite simply, they are going to have to be more agile–they have to do more with their existing machinery by increasing throughput, perhaps through automated parts handling.  Or, they have to do more with their existing production-floor footprint, which tends to favor conversion to digital product-marking due to quick changeovers and the ability to run many skus on one machine.  Or perhaps they should opt to decrease unit costs, which again tends to favor industrial inkjet solutions since there are no clichés or negatives as there are with traditional contact forms of product marking, no wasted ink in inkcups at the end of the run with inkjet, and very little ink per part.

Rapidly Changing Consumer and Customer Preference

As discussed in greater detail in Part One, Feber identified rapidly-changing consumer tastes, preferences, and expectations as a trend driving change in the packaging industry.  “If you walk into a big-box retailer or Walmart or a big grocery store, you tend to see 10 to 15 different products on the shelf of a given category. When you go to Amazon, you can see up to 2,000 different products in a category. And it’s really feeding this consumer desire for variety and customization. What you’re seeing is that the world’s changing, and consumers are desiring more,” said Feber.

Increased Pressure on Sustainability

For the first time in a long time brands are making serious commitments to make a difference, said Feber, and the consumer perception in this area has grown almost exponentially in terms of how frequently sustainability is mentioned. As a result, Feber said, regulations have continued to grow fairly rapidly across the world.

Over the past 12 to 15 months, public awareness of plastics leakage into environment has increased significantly to an all-time high. “This is one indicator of what’s really driving a lot of the sustainability sensitivity across the industry and across the world,” Feber said. “This is really going to create unprecedented change.”

Inkjet printed cosmetics packaging.

Notwithstanding the challenges facing the packaging for CPG industry, all is not gloomy, as another McKinsey report suggests, and as we feel also, given the exciting applications we are building in our facility.  Despite narrowing margins in the CPG industry, certain product categories are projected to grow at twice the rate of overall consumer spending, according to the report’s authors.   The authors singled out anti-aging creams and mineral water as particular standouts.

Furthermore, the authors point out, a more granular perspective on geography yields micro-markets with aggressive growth forecasts, an environment that lends itself to digital inkjet product-marking solutions due to the ability to carry lean inventories, to produce just-in-time when and where needed, and to customize products at end-of-line stage, allowing for variation based on regional tastes and preferences.

“Partnering with players down the channel is more important than ever. What it really means is finding the right partners within your customers’ businesses to partner with.”

—David Feber, McKinsey & Company

“Number one is the investment in R&D and innovation,” Feber said. “Some of these products change very fast, but most of them have a very slow adoption, given risk aversion to change and high volumes, and if you’re on the machine side, it’s painfully slow because all of those are magnified. So the time to start innovating is now and to push your companies to think about where you should be spending your innovation dollars.”

Second, is to create more agile processes to adjust to SKU proliferation. A lot of packaging companies are set up for efficiency and high throughput, Feber notes, but the world is slowly changing to a lot more customization and SKU proliferation. So companies are going to need to be more agile and more flexibile to play in these spaces.

We hope you enjoyed this brief look at digital inkjet and the packaging for CPG industry.

CPG Roundup: Latest Printing Trends in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry (Part 1)

CPG packaging

Cosmetics containers are one example of CPG packaging.

The Consumer Packaged Goods industry provides a good illustration of the challenges and rewards associated with converting from analog to digital product decoration and marking.  Over the course of a two-part series, we plan to look at the challenges companies face in the marketplace and some of the solutions that digital inkjet adoption can provide through its ability to provide quick changeovers, short production runs, mass customization,  and lean inventories.  Part 1 will look at consumer trends that favor digital inkjet adoption, and Part 2 will look at supply-side challenges that drive adoption of inkjet product-decoration and -marking solutions.

But first, a few definitions.

What are Consumer Packaged Goods?

Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) is an industry term for merchandise that customers use up and replace on a frequent basis. Examples of consumer packaged goods include food, beverages, cosmetics and cleaning products.

Imagine, if you will, that over the next decade the world will gain an additional 81 Procter & Gambles or 458 equivalents of Kellogg’s. This is the sort of growth that will happen in the global consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) sector, which will nearly double in size—to $14 trillion—by 2025, from $8 trillion in 2014.

— McKinsey & Co.

According to McKinsey & Company, the Consumer Package Goods Industry is poised to nearly double in size by 2025.  This has tremendous implications for the direct-to-shape industrial product-marking industry, and this blogpost will look at some of these implications.

Already, digital inkjet is making its mark in the CPG industry, though not to the same degree in each sector.  For example, the cosmetics industry has seen digital adoption only in fits and starts, according to Cindy Cooperman, VP of Brand Global Strategic Accounts at X-Rite, a manufacturer of color measurement and management products and frequent consultant to the cosmetics industry. 

cosmetics container

Another example of CPG packaging

According to Cooperman, early attempts to harness the power of digital inkjet printing for packaging focused on personalization, but did not heed what consumers were clamoring for.  Early examples of packaging personalization centered on marking products with the end-user’s name, but In Danaher Product Identification’s latest study, Packaging and the Digital Shopper: Expectations in Health and Beauty 62 percent of shoppers did not see a value in health, beauty, and personal care items personalized with their names.  However, according to the survey, respondents did see value for products specifically customized for their skin or body type with personalized instructions; 22 percent of shoppers said they are highly likely to purchase or would like to see more customized products.  Cooperman cited mis-aligned consumer expectations regarding speed-to-market as a major stumbling block to wider adoption of digital inkjet for packaging. For instance, consumers expect packaging changes to take a mere 24 hours, but brands take 198 days to implement them (Source: Keypoint Intelligence).

“The premium personal care segment, which makes up 26% of the category, is growing at 8% while the total category is growing at 2%. On the beverage side, we continue to see growth from the premium beer category, as well as consumers trading up from mass beers to higher dollar wine, spirits and flavored malt beverages.”

—Michael Mapes

Forbes magazine looked at broad consumer trends and how the CPG industry can take advantage of them by converting to digital inkjet solutions.  In an interview with Michael Mapes, the CEO of EXAL Corporation, the largest manufacturer of aluminum containers in the Americas, Forbes contributor Jeff Fromm discussed three major trends currently shaping the CPG industry. First, says Mapes, consumers are choosing premium products across product categories, but particularly in the personal care and beverage spaces. Industrial inkjet product-marking solutions provide the premium experience with vivid package designs that are also “greener” since they use fewer raw materials—including energy—further enhancing the perception of premium value.

“The data supports that not only are consumers looking for sustainability claims, they are also voting with their wallets,” says Mapes. “Sustainable products grew at four times the rate of products without a commitment to sustainability. A McKinsey study showed that 55 percent of consumers are willing to pay 15 percent more for sustainable packaging, and Nielsen reports that 66 percent of all consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. Consumers are inspecting product labels for sustainability claims and supporting the brands that are sustainability focused–even if it costs them more.” In short, it can be a “win-win” for packaging producers: cut costs and command a higher price for goods sold.

The third trend that Mapes identified in the cosmetics industry is convenience, developments such as recloseable packaging, thin-film packaging, and sprays.

In sum, these three consumer-driven trends—the demand for premium quality, sustainability, and convenience—can all be addressed by converting from more traditional forms of packaging-decoration to digital inkjet.  And these three trends are most pronounced among the Millenials, already the largest consumer group in history. According to Nielsen, Millennials are the most willing cohort to pay more for sustainability, at 75% vs. 66% of total population. “Brands that are successful with Millennials today truly understand that the package should be considered part of the marketing spend,” says Mapes.  “Packaging is the first thing the consumer sees when they pick up the product off the shelf. No other marketing spend can impact a buyer at the moment of truth in the store and throughout the life of a product. According to Nielsen, approximately 60% of decision making happens at the shelf.”

We hope you enjoyed this look at consumer trends driving change in the packaging for CPG industry.  Be sure to read Part Two of this series, which will look at microeconomic trends within the CPG industry, the challenges packaging producers face in light of declining margins and increased competition for shelf space.

InPrint 2019 A Huge Success

Julian Joffe, Founder of EPS, cuts the ribbon at InPrint 2019.

From the 9th through the 11th of April, industrial print machine manufacturers and decision-makers from Fortune 500 companies in such diverse industries as Automotive, Tool/Hardware, and Ad Specialty converged on Louisville, Kentucky, for three days of meetings, presentations, and discussions about the emerging digital revolution in product-marking.

As the Platinum Sponsor of the event, Engineered Printing Solutions had a strong presence at the show.  “For three days, EPS had a midwest showroom,” said Ken Tyler, whose territory encompasses much of the Midwest.“  The ability to demonstrate the printing capabilities of our inkjet machines right before the eyes of prospective customers—and even to print on parts they bring us at the show—is invaluable.”

The show began with EPS’ own Julian Joffe cutting the ribbon.  Julian also gave a talk on the second day of the show, answering the question, “Why go digital?” by discussing the short-run production and variable-data capabilities presented by industrial inkjet printers.  Julian also mentioned the quick changeovers in the digital realm as compared to traditional “contact” forms of printing such as litho, flexo, and pad printing, as well as there being no need to store clichés, pads, and endless spot-color inks.  Julian concluded by presenting two case studies in which Engineered Printing Solutions helped an existing pad print customer convert their product-marking process to digital inkjet, showing that high initial capital costs were quickly recouped through both lower unit costs and labor efficiencies as well as higher revenues generated through expanded capabilities (just-in-time production, mass-customization, variable data), to say nothing of the higher perceived value of the end product.

Engineered Printing Solutions pays homage to an early technologist. Click on the image to see all images in the series.

At the InPrint show, EPS demonstrated variable data on a single pass machine by paying homage to the pioneering photographer Edward Muybridge.  Muybridge was famous for shooting a series of early photographs of a horse running, and is credited for creating one of the first motion pictures by combining these photographs in a stop-motion film.  Kevin Metcalfe of Engineered Printing Solutions created a series of artfiles using Muybridge’s photographs, and we printed the series of 20 images in at 14 inches per second.You can see the result at left.

Engineered Printing Solutions also Demonstrated the BottleJET 2.0 at InPrint.  In honor of the upcoming Kentucky Derby, we chose a design that mimicked a julep cup, complete with roses and a mint julep recipe.

Finally, we also demonstrated the FJet24 Gen2 by printing a colorful graphic onto hand sanitizer, because who doesn’t need hand sanitizer at a trade show?

All told, InPrint 2019 was a resounding success.  It was great to see current customers, to meet new ones, and to make the case for converting to digital product-marking by demonstrating our extensive line of inkjet printers.

Weren’t able to make the InPrint show?  We’re here for you!  Drop us a line and let us help you

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Ask the Expert: Q & A With Julian Joffe, President of EPS

Plastics Decorating recently sat down with Julian Joffe, President of Engineered Printing Solutions, to discuss the latest trends in product marking automation.  They discussed automation in pad printing as well as the trend away from analog product-marking methods such as pad printing toward digital product-marking solutions such as industrial inkjet.

PD:  Thank you for speaking with us.  How has pad printing technology changed in the last several years?

Julian Joffe, President of Engineered Printing Solutions

Julian Joffe, President of Engineered Printing Solutions

JJ:  The fundamentals of pad printing have remained unchanged for some years now-the biggest single change happened some 15 years back with the advent of the closed cup system. Since that time nothing has changed much– however the adoption of other technologies into the pad printing world is what has changed. The use of automation in the form of robotics has revolutionized the pad printers that are being used in certain industries by innovative companies. The use of more effective vision systems have also changed the Pad Printing world.  In order for a technology such as Pad Printing to remain a strong contender and work for Industry in a globally competitive market –automation must be the first line of defense for technology users to remain competitive in an every changing workforce environment. Innovative OEMS will always find a way to borrow and improve technologies to implement them into the machines they are building in order to better serve their customers and maintain their leadership status as an OEM in that sphere of Industry.

“The biggest single advantage of digital over analog is of course the ability to print on demand with minimal set up and tooling cost. This single feature will allow digital to continue its strong growth in direct to plastic object printing. As the cost of equipment continues to decline on a relative basis due to increased volumes due to increased demand so will the ROI become more attractive and this upward spiral of demand will accelerate.”

PD:  What developments or changes do you see happening with direct to plastics decorating in the next few years?

JJ:  Analog systems will continue to remain competitive but the consumer driven internet of things will continue to challenge those analog systems that will in some instances be replaced and supplemented by digital printing technologies due to variable data and personalization. The biggest single advantage of digital over analog is of course the ability to print on demand with minimal set up and tooling cost. This single feature will allow digital to continue its strong growth in direct to plastic object printing. As the cost of equipment continues to decline on a relative basis due to increased volumes due to increased demand so will the ROI become more attractive and this upward spiral of demand will accelerate.

Digital printing means 1) quicker time to market  2) Shortened development times for new products 3) Lowered inventories 4) ability to create later stage differentiation (within the production cycle) These are only some of the advantages that digital has over analog but these are some of the reasons that digital will eventually find its way into all manufacturing sectors and find a place together with analog systems to boost efficiencies especially when shorter run customization becomes a part of every manufacturers offerings to meet customers’ demands.

PD:  What type of questions should decorators ask when deciding between pad printing or digital inkjet for direct to plastic printing?

JJ:  Roughly in this order, decorators should ask themselves the following questions:

  1. What is my production run length?   How frequently will image changeovers be required?
  2. Is variable data a requirement now or in the future?
  3. How many colors are required?  Inkjet is great for full color while monochrome  single color image clichés can quickly be swapped out even for shorter runs.
  4. How often do the products being decorated change?   Tooling changeovers can become the bottleneck.
  5. Does the shape of the part indicate one product-marking method over another?  An example would be a cup or cap vacuum formed cavity.  Flatter symmetrical shapes are easier to print using inkjet, but other shapes can cause headaches and the biggest issue would be the distance of the print head to the surface.
  6. What is the substrate?  Some materials present a challenge in terms of adhesion.  Sometimes inkjet inks will require pretreatment for quality –not only adhesion-due to relative wet out on substrates with lower dynes (surface tension).

PD:  Thank you for your time.

Happy Holidays from EPS

EPS logo on a Christmas ornament
Best wishes to all!

BottleJET 2.0, Twice as Fast as Previous Model

Engineered Printing Solutions (EPS), an industry leader in bespoke product-marking solutions, announced the arrival of its latest cylindrical inkjet printer, the BottleJET 2.0.  The BottleJET 2.0 delivers the same high-quality 1200x900dpi at twice the speed. [Ed.– This model has been superseded by the BottleJet 2.1 bottle printer.]

BottleJET Cylindrical Inkjet PrinterAs the accompanying video shows, the new model is more than twice as fast as its predecessor, and like the previous model, the BottleJET 2.0 can accommodate either flat- or taper-walled objects. With synchronized printing and curing operation, a bottle-detection sensor and a collision sensor, the BottleJET 2.0 can be set up for either manual or automatic operation.  The BottleJET 2.0 will print diameters of 40mm to 140 mm with an image length up to 220mm width.  In addition, the BottleJET can be loaded with jettable varnish or primer for better adhesion to glass and metal. It’s fast, flexible and affordable.

Engineered Printing Solutions was founded in 1985 as Pad Print Machinery of Vermont.  As the company expanded its product offering to include digital inkjet, it changed its name to reflect this new reality.  Today, EPS offers a full range of both pad print and industrial inkjet custom automation solutions for every manufacturing sector. Please call (800) 272-7764 for details on the new BottleJet 2.0.

Want to find out more about the BottleJet bottle printer? Drop us a line!

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EPS’ Julian Joffe to Speak at Digital Print for Packaging Europe 2018

Engineered Printing Solutions’ founder Julian Joffe is scheduled to speak at the Digital Print for Packaging Europe 2018 (Twitter: @DigitalPrintPacconference on “The challenges of conversion from analog to digital”.  The three-day conference, taking place December 4 – 6 in Berlin, Germany, is Europe’s premier conference dedicated to digital print for packaging. This event covers all hot topics from direct-to-shape, corrugated printing, workflows, the latest market trends and technology updates, as well as case studies from leading brand owners and converters.  You can see the full program here.

EPS Announces New West Coast Office

Engineered Printing Solutions (EPS) is pleased to announce the opening of a West Coast office in Fremont, California.  “We felt this was necessary in order to better serve our West Coast customers,” said Julian Joffe, President of EPS.  “In addition to stocking consumables such as inks, pads, and printing plates, we will be able to demonstrate industrial inkjet and pad printing solutions right there in our showroom.”  Joffe also cited quicker response times for support calls, as well as lower cost to the customer, as being the impetus to open an office on the West Coast.

Located in the Clipper Court Commerce Center at 46728 Fremont Blvd. in Fremont, California, EPS’ West Coast office is expected to open September 1.

EPS Donates Tagless Printing Equipment

KP05 Pad Printing Machine

March 28—Engineered Printing Solutions (EPS) recently donated a KP05 Pad Printing Machine and a BR35M Exposure Unit to Spectrum Designs, a non-profit custom T-shirt store in Port Washington, NY.

In an effort to counter the 80 percent unemployment rate among adults on the autism spectrum, Spectrum Designs has as its mission to offer gainful employment and meaningful work to individuals within a social enterprise. With the addition of new pad printing equipment from EPS, Spectrum Designs will not only employ an additional worker to print direct-to-garment tagless labels, but Spectrum also has plans to widen their product offering to include customized golf balls, key chains, and many other promotional items that cannot be printed using a silk-screen process.


BR35M Exposure Unit

As part of our focus on best-fit solutions for every customer we serve, the Engineered Printing Solutions team includes a full engineering and software development group, technical services, customer service and management team in total, 75 highly-skilled and driven individuals. In pursuit of perfect customer service and satisfaction, we are constantly pushing the envelope, discovering more and more ways to seamlessly incorporate both pad printing and custom industrial inkjet solutions into the customer manufacturing process.

Skip the Label: Direct-to-Object Inkjet Takes Off

written by Debbie Thorp, Business Development Director – Global Inkjet Systems Ltd.  for Screen Print Magazine


The digital revolution has its sights on a new challenge, and decorating three-dimensional objects offers no shortage of puzzles or possibilities.

Product decoration using inkjet technology isn’t new – systems have in fact been on the market for many years. But recent developments have made decorating three-dimensional objects (not to be confused with 3D inkjet or additive manufacturing) one of the most talked-about segments in the industry.

Sales of small-format flatbed printers designed for decorating promotional items are increasing; more vendors are entering the market and the systems feature new capabilities. Also, we’ve seen significant developments in the mid- to high-end range of production printers. Systems that were demonstrated at tradeshows a few years ago are now proving themselves in real production environments.

Market Drivers
Personalization and engagement are buzzwords that have been permeating marketing campaigns and social media in recent years with companies vying for “likes” on Facebook and developing ever more innovative ways of enticing us to buy their products. Numerous fast-moving consumer goods companies are now using digital printing technologies to add value to their brands and increase the “user experience.” What arguably started with Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign has exploded into personalized Nutella jars, Heinz soups, My Heineken bottles, and even customized dog food with Purina’s Just Right range – and there are many, many more examples.

The benefits and drivers for using digital printing technologies are well-known, including cost-effective short runs; just-in-time production; design freedom; no screens, clichés, pads, or time-consuming setup costs; and variable-data capability offering the potential for every product to be different. Then there are the particular advantages that inkjet technology brings as a noncontact technology that can print onto different product shapes – not only flat objects, but also tubes, conical shapes, and even tubs. Inkjet can also print onto structured surfaces, creating unusual visual and haptic effects, enabling decoration in areas not possible with labels. In short, inkjet can potentially operate in the same space as screen, dry offset, and pad printing – and yet offer the additional high-value benefits of a digital print technology.

Printing onto spheres, cylinders, and uneven surfaces is a challenge inkjet developers have happily embraced, offering direct print alternatives in applications where pad printing or labels would have been used in the past. Courtesy of Roland DGA.

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