Inflation Is Hitting Every Manufacturing Sector

Everyone is feeling the pain of inflation from rising prices in goods, materials, chemicals, fuel, and supplies. Whether you serve B2B/B2C every sector is experiencing the avalanche from inflation, supply chain disruptions, Covid19, labor shortages, and a lack of available materials. A trip to the grocery store with empty shelves or purchase limits on certain products is proof enough. It is cliche, but all of these factors have produced the “perfect storm”.

Manufacturers are scrambling to find new supply lines and vendors. Shortages from food, chemicals, lumber, metals, microchips, rubber goods, paper, laminates, and countless other goods have moved businesses from a competitive price focus to sheer availability. Shortages and availability only tighten the vise grip of competing manufacturers. Auto manufacturers are now competing with consumer electronics for computer chips. Before the storm, each had different suppliers and there was no shortage. During the storm, you may produce cars, but your computer or television producer has landed in your backyard competing for the same chips.

The printing and packaging industry is not immune to this economic reality. The supply chain gridlock and inflationary pressures have created a challenging environment for the industry. Previously fully stocked vendor’s distribution centers of paper, ink, boxes, laminate, substrate materials, and film are running empty. Lead times of these materials have drastically expanded. Shipping costs due to rising fuel prices and container shortages have only added to the inflationary pressures. These dynamics are unique because the combination of factors has impacted every aspect of business regardless of category. In the past, Wall Street cycles have come and gone, but typically it’s been one industry or just a few that have experienced serious disruption and challenges. Today, EVERY industry and business is affected by these colliding factors.

The interdependency within the global economy can best be explained by dominoes falling one over the other throughout a massive display. Everything relates to the other. Loaded ships sit in harbors and can’t get unloaded, a pandemic wiped out 700,000 people in the U.S. alone to date. Many of those were workers and paying taxes. The printing and packaging industry is experiencing supply and material increases between 7-12%, if not more. Polypropylene resin has increased 150% since January of 2020, and PET resin has risen over 20% in the same period (CDI October 2021 Report). Some Industry experts are projecting continued shortages of raw material and polymers to last through Q4 2022.

No reputable and successful business enjoys price increases. Their success is built upon providing a high-quality product/service at a competitive price backed with extraordinary customer service. These companies thrive on long-term customer relationships by exceeding customer expectations. However, there is a point at which even the strongest cannot resist anymore because they start losing money.

Craig Austin writing for PBS said: “Economists surveyed by Bloomberg in October expect inflation to slow to 3.4% next summer and hit 2.6% by the end of the year. While that would be encouraging, it’s still well above the pre-pandemic average of 1.8% and outside the Fed’s target. It’s unclear whether economists are recalibrating their expectations after the October Consumer Price Index report. Regardless, consumers should get used to the higher prices. They’re the new normal.”

Smart companies and businesses are concentrating on minimizing price increases while extending their vendor partnerships to have access to the materials and supplies they need to do their jobs. Increased costs are inevitable given the global market, but smart and reputable suppliers and manufacturers are working with their clients and suppliers to keep prices as low as they can. Material and supply shortages can be expected well into 2022. Plan way ahead to get ahead of this troubling trend. Hopefully, supply, logistics, and labor will self-correct in 2022.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have worked internally to increase efficiency and deliver the same high level of quality that helped us earn our customer’s trust during these challenging days. This combination has allowed us to only raise prices on products once this year. We are well aware of the market fluctuations and we are working with our customers and suppliers to provide solutions despite price increases to supply and rising material costs. We have been printing labels that stick, but have great eye appeal and consistently tell your brand story. We don’t mind tackling a challenging problem if it means we can help you produce something that is more appealing and of higher quality. We have produced labels and packaging for almost 25 years, so trust us to work with you as a partner instead of a job number.

Ben Waldrop, President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
Tel: 800.344.7509

Metalized Film

Rollstock film for flexible packaging has attributes and advantages beyond simply serving as a product container. Flexible packaging typically has multiple layers of film with each layer being responsible for one or more properties and protection.

Rollstock film can be metalized with a thin layer of aluminum to provide various levels of protection or application depending on the product and its requirements. There are several advantages to rollstock. For example, does the product require dimensional stability and need to stand up on the shelf at the point of sale? Does it require package integrity like a resistance to puncture and tear strength?

Shelf life is another consideration when considering the metalized film. What is the oxygen transfer rate required for the product inside? This is the OTR and the measure of how well the film structure will prevent oxygen loss. No one wants stale chips or trail bars! Another shelf life consideration is the water vapor transfer rate (WVTR ). This measures how well the film structure will keep moisture in, or out of the actual bag. The third consideration is the aroma barrier. This is the ability of the film to contain the product’s scent. This is very important in food-grade packaging.

Metalized film is simply a thin layer of aluminum to provide a greater barrier when needed for the considerations above and others. It has a high barrier at a medium price point when required. For example, a ziplock plastic bag does not require a high barrier but often the package for a food product does. Typically polypropylene and polyester are films that are metalized by they are also used in non-metalized packaging and printing.

The advantages of the metalized film are many. Compared to foil it creates a higher barrier at a medium price point where the foil is its own layer of material providing the highest barrier but at a higher cost. In comparison to standardized, or non-metalized films it’s cheaper but with less of a barrier.

Metalized films can be used in the applications and content of potato chips, nutrition bars, cookies, bakery, health, and beauty products. The difference is the cost which is based on the material cost and driven by the performance values required in the package itself.

Producers must ask themselves if the potato chips will go stale in 8-16 weeks? Will the moist-towelette stay wet in the single service package or will it dry out when the customer needs it to clean their hands?

Will the fat in a food product oxidize, or bacteria grow inside the package, potentially causing a health risk to the consumer? These are important questions the manufacturer must address with their packaging and printing company.

At Century Printing and Packaging, our metalized film runs with an added part to our Corona Treater allow us to treat this type of film for better printability and ink adhesion. Metalized film can run at faster speeds than foil increasing productivity for a greater ROI and high-quality sealing.

Having the ability to run short volumes of a film which is good for the slow movers of a product family, seasonal items, and test marketing is an advantage. Combined with medium and large volume capability, we are a great fit for companies using printed rollstock film.

Ben Waldrop
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651

Rollstock Film

Rollstock film is a popular flexible packaging option with multiple applications. Roll stock is a manufacturing and printing term to describe an engineered film that is used on “form, fill & seal” packaging machines. There are a variety of films that are engineered in regard to the specific properties of the content it will contain and if it is sensitive to light, moisture, air, and fragility. Typically you will find roll stock film used in granola and trail bars, nutrition bars, cookies, and potato or other kinds of chips.

This type of application involves flexographic printing which allows vibrant color and design details. The plates are made onsite cutting down wait times for proofs and getting to production as soon as possible. The film is blown from resin into film and then converted to blank film to printed roll stock. The printer is able to work their magic creating a finished bag that meets or exceeds the customer’s specific graphic, design, and layout content.

Roll stock film has many benefits. It can be food safe. It lowers production costs by producing less waste as the bags are made in line. The film provides producers vibrant colors and distinct clarity through flexographic printing enhancing end-user appeal and increasing brand awareness by standing out from the competition. Depending on the film usage context it can provide an oxygen barrier and the manufacturer can inject an air mix to prolong the life of the product ensuring freshness at the point of sale. It also speeds up the producer’s manufacturing process using the “form-fill & seal” machine.

Low Country Kettle (pictured here) is a good example of a pressure-sealed application. The bags are form-fill & seal. There is a barrier layer and the film side is printed with a laminate that is heat sealable so when the manufacturer creates the finished product bag and seals it, it heats to the right temperature and seals the bag. When filling the bags with product Low Country Kettle introduces an air mix that is food grade rated and helps preserve the chips so they stay fresh longer. This prevents the product from going stale before the end-user purchases the product.

There are certain requirements for food printed film with various grades of thickness and barriers depending on the customers manufacturing requirements and specifications.

Century Printing & Packaging is experienced in roll stock printing in diverse product contexts. We can print in quantities ranging from 5,000 to 1M ft. We use content-specific and diverse materials.

Ben Waldrop
Century Printing & Packaging

Film/Packaging Options Abound

Manufacturer’s have so many options in today’s label packaging and printing industry. Depending upon the product application or context there is more variety than ever before in choosing the packaging option that best suits your product. Constant improvements, changes, updates and creation of new kinds of film packaging options offer less waste and increase sustainability.

Among the recent film packaging options are:

Polyethylene bags provide strength, square bottoms, side gusseted, side welded, and wicketed bags for everything from dog food to dishwasher, or laundry pouches. These bags offer multiple printing options whether it is food, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, agricultural grade and more.

Standup Resealable pouches. Think like a Roo! These pouches offer flexibility and innovative storage opportunities that no longer require glass, or larger plastic containers. Resealable pouches can also be food grade for pet treats, pickles, baking ingredients (e.g., sugar, flour), or dry pharmaceutical products. powder, sugar and other products. Both of these options can be punched to allow for hooked sales display.

Rollstock film offers flexibility and printing options for a variety of product and packaging applications. It can be manipulated and printed to conform to several packaging options. The most critical aspect of rollstock film is beginning with the highest quality of film for the specific kind of printing and packaging you need.

Bladder/Chamber pouches offer single, or dual bladders to hold liquids, pastes, granules from food to pharma/ag, cleaners, athletic supplements and other applications.

Today’s packaging and printing material is as diverse and creative as ever. It continues to grow through ingenuity and innovation.

Talk to your label printing, or packaging company about these and other creative packaging and label solutions. Strong printing and packaging companies are consulted on the front end of the design process because of their breadth of experience in the industry. If you are struggling to find the right application ask your printer.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have been designing and producing label and packaging solutions for years. We serve pharmaceutical (e.g, CBD oil & tincture), food grade, agricultural, janitorial, dry goods, craft beer/distilleries, and many more products. Whether it’s a flexo press, or digital application we can help you find the right solution, color, and quality.

Ben Waldrop President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651

Barrier Films

Barrier films allow a very diverse group of materials to be packaged directly in the film. Food packaging is one of the biggest product categories using barrier films. The application is fast while continuing to preserve the aesthetic appeal of the product.

One of the main concerns with using film in regard to food packaging is the oxygen transfer rate. Most food products need limited oxygen exposure so they require a high barrier film. The (OTR) oxygen transfer rate is the measurement of oxygen that can pass through the film. Certain foods spoil faster when exposed to oxygen during shelf life. Other considerations like odor control, ultraviolet and moisture exposure help determine the gauge and clarity of the film to be used. Certain light can color a food if it is not using the right barrier film. Food products have specific lamination requirements and standards to meet. Among the barrier films used in food packaging:

  • EVOH (ethylene vinyl alcohol film)
  • PET (polyester film) high performance used as a laminate substrate
  • KPET is PET film coated with a soft saran laminate (strong odor control)
  • Nylon (designed for microwave/cooking)
  • LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene) ideal for fresh produce
  • Polypropylene (moisture control and high OTR) for food

There is a wide variety of barrier films available in the food packaging industry depending upon your product needs, or limitations. The demand for barrier films is only going to increase given the versatility and variety of applications within the film industry. High barrier film is also used for household chemicals and nutraceutical products. Barrier film is a vital part of modern-day packaging and its use is increasing.

Having the right barrier film for a food product, nutraceutical, or non-food product is essential. Barrier film offers manufacturers incredible options. At Century Printing and Packaging we have extensive experience using barrier film with our customers.

Ben Waldrop
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651