Forging ahead in digital printing

Digital technologies are having a profound impact on the way food is manufactured, sold, purchased and consumed, disrupting many traditional ways and approaches. Our goal is to stay ahead of the curve, anticipating changes, addressing challenges and delivering world-­leading solutions that will support the long-term success of our customers.

One specific area of focus for us right now is digital printing. Not many years from now, we expect that all printing will be digital. That’s why we are investing in a number of fledgling technologies, to better understand how they can support our customers’ growth ambitions, and to gain the experience and know-how needed to maximise the potential of these exciting opportunities.

DePrint provides unique codes in advance

DePrint is a laser ablation technology that can quickly and easily produce a unique digital code on every Tetra Pak package, allowing each one to be independently tracked through the supply chain. Customers can harness the code, linking it to the product they are filling into the package and delivering full traceability, all the way to the end consumer.

DePrint promises clear benefits in relation to product quality, food safety and sustainability, enabling data to be captured and linked to every unique code across all stages of the production process, regardless of volume or manufacturing type. DePrint testing is expected to start early 2019.

PICCO harnesses consumer information

PICCO is a Tetra Pak solution that enables the printing of QR codes, unique text or simple images on every package, enabling enhanced consumer interaction and full traceability. PICCO offers customers both the printing and the data structure around each code, at a lower cost than printing such unique information themselves.

The QR codes, text or images can be used by customers in marketing campaigns or promotions, and as a means to gather valuable information about their consumers’ purchasing habits and preferences. For example, QR codes can be used to create a contest or lottery that consumers enter simply by scanning the code with their smartphone. Each QR code is connected to both the specific package and to the consumer scanning the code,
reducing the risk of multiple entries while capturing statistics.

PICCO is already being field-tested with QR codes at our Hohhot converting factory in China, with the gradual commercial introduction of two more systems planned for 2018.

Supply chain benefits of digital printing

Tetra Pak is conducting feasibility studies in areas such as full digital printing in our converting factories. Today, digital printing is more economical for short orders, but there may be potential for our large-volume customers to order printed material for smaller batches. This could provide supply chain benefits by enabling customers to place short orders for products sold, thereby reducing their packaging inventory levels.

Ultimately, digital printing will also shape how consumers engage with packages, which will become carriers of information and enablers of new interactions through the entire value chain. It will allow a fundamental shift in the way products are marketed, providing a personalised channel to every end consumer.