November 16, 2021 

Choosing The Best Dairy Coding Solutions

Finding the best dairy coding solutions will depend on your packaging equipment, the packaging material, and the work environment.

Those who work in the U.S. dairy industry understand the importance of maintaining complete product traceability from the production line to grocery store shelves. However, only a few states, including California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Virginia, have published legislation explicitly demanding that all dairy products have expiration dates on their packaging

For some, this may come as a surprise. Many people assume that federal agencies such as the FDA and the USDA require dairy companies to place these expiration dates on their products. However, there is no federal law that requires product date coding on anything aside from infant formula. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that dairy companies can forego date coding. In addition to the numerous state laws that require expiration dates on milk cartons, cream products, and more, distribution networks often require them as well. To avoid violating state laws and distribution policies, dairy producers need to mark their products with reliable printing hardware and substrate-compatible ink formulas. 

If you’re looking for the best dairy coding solutions to maximize your operational efficiency, here’s how to find them.

Coding Solutions for Packaging Equipment

The dairy industry is large and diverse, both in product variety and packaging technology. For example, the equipment used to fill jugs and bottles with milk is vastly different from the equipment used to fill ice cream cartons or cups of yogurt. Given that product coding often occurs on the same packaging lines as product filling, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Instead, dairy operations will need to consult with an expert to determine which printing technology will best complement their existing packaging lines. 

Most often, we see the following combinations of production line technologies and coding solutions:

Liquid Filling MachinesLaser marking systems
Continuous inkjet printers 
Cup Filling MachinesLaser marking systems
Continuous inkjet printers 
Flow Wrapper MachinesLaser marking systems
Continuous inkjet printers
Thermal transfer overprinters
Cartoning MachinesLaser marking systems
Thermal transfer overprinters
Thermal Inkjet Printers
Shrink Wrapping MachinesPrint-and-apply labeling machines
Vertical Form Fill Seal MachinesContinuous inkjet printers
Thermal transfer overprinters
Case Packing MachinesPrint-and-apply labeling machines
High-resolution case coders

For production line technologies with multiple coding solution options, the best marking choice can depend on several factors, including:

  • Line speeds (e.g. high-speed laser marking systems vs. slower thermal inkjet printers).
  • Upfront costs (e.g. expensive laser marking systems vs. more affordable continuous inkjet printers).
  • Consumable expenses (e.g. continuous inkjet printers with ongoing ink and solvent purchases vs. laser marking systems that only need periodic filter purchases and time-based preventative maintenance).

It’s also essential to correctly match your marking equipment with your packaging substrates.

Coding Solutions for Packaging Materials

Dairy products can be packaged in many different materials, including glass, plastic, and paperboard.

Not only is the dairy industry filled with a wide variety of products ranging from ice cream and milk to butter and cheese, but these products can also be packaged in a multitude of ways. For example, milk can be packaged in:

  • Glass bottles.
  • Plastic jugs.
  • Aseptic packaging.
  • Paperboard cartons.

Each of these materials has different surface properties that affect how well they react to certain printing technologies and ink formulas. While laser marking systems and continuous inkjet printers can mark both porous and nonporous materials, for instance, many thermal inkjet printers have ink cartridge limitations and are unable to use ink formulas that are compatible with nonporous substrates (e.g. glass, metal, etc.). Without the right ink formula, markings such as lot codes and expiration dates are likely to become unreadable, destroying product traceability.

Consequently, it’s incredibly important to ensure substrate compatibility before investing in any marking equipment.

Coding Solutions for Work Environments

Like other industrial worksites, dairy packaging facilities often struggle with harsh environmental issues. Excessive humidity, wet conditions, and extremely cold temperatures can all lead to both messy codes and hardware failures if they aren’t properly accounted for. Fortunately, there are several printing technologies available today that are built to resist these traditionally challenging elements. 

Many of today’s top continuous inkjet printers can print on substrates at below-freezing temperatures. Ink formulas can also be created to withstand substantial moisture presence. IP-rated outer structures can protect laser systems, high-resolution case coders, and continuous inkjet printers from dust, airborne particles, and water presence, preventing a common source of hardware failure. 

Want More Information on Choosing the Best Dairy Coding Solutions? Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Product coding is an essential part of the modern dairy industry. However, finding the right equipment to get it done can be a difficult task. At C&M Digest, we aim to help those in the dairy field and beyond by providing educational resources on how to mark products in the best way possible. Subscribe to our newsletter today to make sure that you don’t miss out on the next piece of technology that will take your operation to the next level.

Want to learn more about the best dairy coding solutions? Stay connected with C&M Digest by subscribing to our newsletter. With information on hardware, formulas, and other important marking topics, our newsletter will keep you updated on the latest industry developments. To get in touch with us about possible collaborations or ideas for coverage, contact us today.

C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

Receive C&M Articles Directly to Your Inbox

Keep up with the latest coding and marking coverage by signing up for the C&M newsletter.

Search Our Blog

Contact Us Today

Have any thoughts on our coverage? Want to request an article? Looking to collaborate with our team? Fill out the form below to let us know!
Contact Us
C&M © 2021 Privacy Policy