Most food packaging must be adapted to comply with the EU´s new Food Information to Consumers Regulations (FIC) by the end of 2014. Quality conscious companies have to find solutions to control changes efficiently and avoid costly errors. Hamlet – with worldwide sales of chocolates, biscuits, confectionery, chewing gum and pastry – has chosen the EyeC Proofiler Content to face this challenge.
The FIC is one of the key challenges of 2014. Designed to make food labelling easier to understand for consumers, it combines rules on general food and nutrition labelling into a single EU regulation. The regulations will apply mostly from 13 December 2014. Food producers will have a further two years to comply with the other requirements of the FIC.
All the packaging pieces need to be adapted
The way allergen information is presented on the pack is one of the key changes. Under the new rules, allergen information will have to be provided on all food packages and included in the list of ingredients. For pre-packed foods, allergens will have to be highlighted on the ingredient list. A minimum font size has also been set for all mandatory information on most food labels. Other changes follow including: mandatory nutrition labelling on pre-packaged food, enhanced country of origin labelling, improved date marking, labelling of non pre-packed foods, changes in the name of the food.
For food producers, such as Hamlet, these changes have a big impact. This Belgian confectionery producer has provided a 'sweet' experience to its customers worldwide for more than half a century. Hamlet, Cupido, Forum, B&C, Smart, Fun and Deco Fun are some of the well-known brands of the Company. Their success is due largely to their attractive packaging. Elke Van Pee, employee of the Packaging Project Department at Hamlet, explains: "All our packaging pieces need to be modified. That represents more than 1,000 artwork files". A huge amount of work.
Automation: the key to success
Until now, the Company used to proof its artwork files manually. Three persons were assigned to this task. To handle this extra workload, Hamlet needed to find a solution that speeds up and secures the revision and approval processes. It soon became clear that investing in technology was the best option. Elke Van Pee explains: "Unfortunately manual proofing is not 100% reliable. It is hard for a person to stay focussed 100% of the time. Especially when she/he has to review the same artwork file several times. We were convinced that it was better to invest in an automated proofreading system than to hire someone new."
For Hamlet, it was important to find a very accurate solution that will perform a complete inspection, while at the same time being quick and easy to use. The system will have to focus especially on the following aspects. First it will have to control changes in texts, such as changes in font attributes or font size. Second it will have to inspect modifications in graphics, such as logos and outlined texts (the latter being often used for complicated languages). And last but not least, it will have to check and decode barcodes.
Accuracy and completeness: two critical factors
With these criteria in mind, Hamlet tested three different proofreading systems. But, only one proved to fully meet its requirements: the EyeC Proofiler Content, the new solution from EyeC – specialist in artwork and print inspection. Elke explains: "The other solutions that we have tested are not complete. This is not useful if you still have to check parts of the artwork manually. Moreover they did not find some changes such as texts in bold".
The EyeC Proofiler Content on the contrary perfectly matches Hamlet´s criteria. "We contacted EyeC due to the recommendation of one of our printers", says Elke. "The biggest advantage of this inspection system - she adds - is that it checks at the same time texts, graphics and barcodes." Based on a new (patented) technology, the EyeC Proofiler Content allows quick and accurate comparison of two versions of a file. It is the only solution in the market that proofs the entire content of an artwork in a single operation. The inspection is simple, fast, and reproducible. Significant deviations between the two inspected files are displayed for the operator to evaluate and then listed in a report.
10 times faster than before
After several months of use, Hamlet is really satisfied by the EyeC Proofiler Content. The system has been welcomed by the employees with great enthusiasm. What they really appreciate is that it is easy to use and is "much, much quicker than manual proofing" emphasizes Elke. "With the EyeC Proofiler Content, proofing is in average ten times faster than before". "It is faster and more accurate. What could you have against it", she adds with a smile.
With the collaboration of its suppliers, Hamlet has also introduced some best practices to increase quality. Now, whenever an artwork file is modified, design agencies and print shops send to Hamlet for approval a PDF that is not protected and contains mainly live text. Although technically easy to implement, this change was met with some surprise by some print shops. Nevertheless, it took only a few phone calls to EyeC to enable them to see the mutual benefits.
More control over artwork files and quality
Working with proper pdf files drastically improves inspection results. Live text provides a greater control over changes than outlined text. It allows the EyeC Proofiler Content to analyse with more accuracy complex changes and shows the user exactly the origin of those differences.
With the EyeC Proofiler Content, Hamlet is now well equipped to handle the vast number of artwork changes required to meet the new labelling requirements that have to be completed before the end of the year. However an additional benefit is that Hamlet now has greater control over the artwork that it receives from its suppliers. It can find errors much sooner in the cycle than before and correct them before going to print, saving a lot of money and time.