Australian company Prepared Foods Australia, which was formerly Eurest Prepared Foods, is using bi-jet printing technology from Imaje to ensure that the company's diverse range of products can be quickly and simply traced.
Australia Prepared Foods specialises in ready meals for institutions and domestic customers. It produces some 8,000 tons of food a year in the form of 400 different recipes, and is required to accurately label and code everything to ensure it can be traced.
Approximately 10 per cent of the products made by Prepared Foods Australia are routinely exported to Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
"The legislation and the requirements for traceability demand that we display a lot of information on the packaging, including a list of ingredients, the best before date, the batch references, the weight and the product name," said general manager Shane Bracken.
"Thanks to their reliability and performance, Imaje inkjet printers have proven to be the perfect answer for our very diverse applications."
Prepared Foods Australia handles a huge variety of products and therefore a lot of different messages. "Eleven different fonts are used," said Bracken. "The messages can often take up four lines and are printed at speeds of up to 1m a second. These levels of performance are only possible due to the use of Imaje bi-jet inkjet printers."
Imaje claims that bi-jet technology offers incredible flexibility and is unique to the company. The technology is applicable on many different packaging types including microwaveable plastic trays and dishes, plastic pouches or sachets for sauces and cartons made of polypropylene-coated card.
"One of the important advantages of the printers is their flexibility, since this means that they can be moved around and used wherever they are needed," said Bracken. "In addition to the humidity, both the machines and the inks must be able to withstand low temperatures and meet the requirements for marking applications on very cold media, since some products are stored for 12 to 24 months at- 20°C."
The drive towards complete supply chain traceability is putting incredible pressure on food manufacturers, especially private-label processors such as Prepared Foods Australia. Retailers intent on building up customer loyalty and trust are driving traceability measures down the supply chain, putting into place guarantees that if there is ever a recall, then any problem could be contained quickly without losing credibility.
The best way of ensuring this is to ensure that suppliers have full control. This is why retailers are leaning heavily on manufacturers to install technology that will guarantee complete traceability.