by Greg Kishbaugh
Recent news from retail giant Walmart has put Consumer Packaged Goods companies on high alert and could have huge ramifications for the flexo industry.
The announcement, called Master Case Labeling Standards and Expectations, rules out the use of inkjet print on cases for the 14-digit Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and its accompanying bar code symbol. Instead, Walmart has ordered that only flexo printing will be accepted for the printing of GTIN on corrugated boxes. The company issued a statement saying bar codes printed with inkjet technology are not as consistently legible as those printed flexographically.
Additionally, Walmart has also stipulated that it will now require that all four sides of a corrugated case must carry trade item information. In this regard, Walmart’s argument is that store associates are not currently able to get merchandise onto store shelves efficiently enough when the master corrugated cases do not have the trade item information on all four sides or if the printing quality makes it impossible to scan.
Naturally, this announcement has brought forth many questions and concerns. The use of inkjet allows corrugated providers to keep inventory low and reduce cost in many cases. Through the use of inkjet, converters can use the same same box, for instance, for any number of different flavors or styles of a product, and then use inkjet to indicate the different variations, as well as the applicable GTIN.
Having to now print GTIN and bar code information on all four sides of a corrugated box will also require converters to make changes to their current production workflow.
Corrugated converters would be wise to analyze the ways in which this new measure might affect their business and what steps they will need to take to ensure a smooth production transition.