Honey Bees Make Associated Labels and Packaging Their New Home!

Honey Bees Make Associated Labels and Packaging Their New Home!

March 31, 2016


Staff at Associated Labels and Packaging have revived a derelict piece of land on our property to house two colonies of honey bees! On April 4th, Shaun Ashworth (President) and employees will help install the two queens and their bees. Ongoing courses will be offered to staff to train them in caring for the bees year round. There has been lots of positive feedback from staff for the hives, as well as, growing interest in helping the environment in any way we can.

At Associated Labels and Packaging, we hope to be part of similar projects in the future and encourage other companies to do the same. Not only for the health of our bee population and plant pollination, but the health of our human population as well. Bees encourage new conversations, and new connections to nature and each other.

We would like to think that work doesn’t always have to be just about work!

Your 2016 Food Packaging Safety “To-Do List”

February 15, 2016

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Review and act upon these 5 recommendations and you’ll be more informed and prepared to identify and address the food packaging safety issues within your operation. You, your facility and management will all benefit.

Feedback collected from professionals connected to the food packaging industry suggests that years after the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has gone into effect, gaps remain between food packaging customer expectations and food packaging supplier safety control.

Gary Kestenbaum writes:

I’ve taken the liberty of interpreting information that I’ve collected in the 4 plus years since the FSMA was broadly announced to the food and packaging industries.  Broadly speaking, we in the packaging industry are not food scientists, we are not microbiologists, we are not HACCP experts, nor are we attorneys.

We are engineers, chemists, production managers, process developers, logistics and implementation experts and packaging material scientists. Hopefully, some of our cross-functional colleagues are quality-control professionals.  We respect them, and, maybe, once a year, we listen to their presentation at the annual division or department team meeting.

As packaging professionals, we exist to develop, commercialize and manufacture (or use) packaging and/or materials to convert them. In our business, quality refers to the integrity of the threads on the finish of a rigid container, the wall thickness at a critical point on a thermoformed part, the integrity of a die-cut ECT 36 corrugated display shipper or the COF (coefficient of friction) on a roll of printed film.

If we’re equipment-related engineers, quality relates to consistency of operation, proper design, assembly and satisfactory completion of the factory or customer acceptance test. Rarely do we walk through the halls of our technical centers or the aisles of our manufacturing facilities burdened by worries that the packaging or related equipment we sell, use or distribute is at risk of causing a food safety breach at the customer or consumer level.

Avoid the safety sin of omission

We are all aware of food packaging safety “events” which get occasionally publicized and we are oblivious to the ones that aren’t.  We are certainly experienced enough to understand that safe, suitable food packaging materials conversion doesn’t magically “happen.”  But we are often guilty of acting to the contrary. Many of us are oblivious to day-to-day food safety risks, or we act in a manner which makes us appears unprepared or uninvolved.

Food packaging safety awareness may never get to the level of importance applied against food ingredient safety, but it is well-advised for those of you involved in every aspect of food packaging, contact or not, to understand the basics of food safety in relation to the component(s) that you are providing.  In order to become or feel more connected to the food safety and quality discipline, I make the following recommendations:


  • Facilitate, organize or attend basic food and packaging safety training or introductory education.
  • Attend an “introduction to HACCP” course.
  • Attend a client/customer “supplier quality expectations” course or seminar.
  • Organize or become a member of a “food safety team” within your facility or organization.
  • Subject your internal food packaging safety programs (be you supplier or client) and vendor expectation requirements to external review.

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Judging a Book by its Cover: Packaging Perception Puts Pit in Purchasing

February 10, 2016

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You’re at the grocery store buying mayonnaise. It’s the last jar on the shelf and the label or flexible packaging is torn. What do you do?

Research recently published out of the University of B.C. suggests that, if you’re anything like the average busy shopper of today, you’ll likely dismiss the product due to its apparent flaw and perhaps shop somewhere else.

“If you wanted to make an evolutionary argument, it makes sense to avoid things that look like they’re damaged — they could be unhealthy, and you don’t want to have spoiled food,” said Kate White, chairwoman of the Marketing and Behavioural Science division at the Sauder School of Business.

She was the lead in a series of six experiments, conducted on students last year, that sought to prove the relationship between superficial damage to packaging on and consumer behaviour.

“There’s been a few news stories on consumers rejecting non-perfect produce — a cucumber that’s not straight or an apple that’s not the perfect shape — but they’re perfectly healthy,” White said on Tuesday.

It became clear this behaviour wasn’t restricted to products. Her team experimented with products ranging from BBQ sauce, soup, baking soda, and even non-food items like highlighters. In each case, the results showed if the flexible packaging was torn, the box was dented or looked like “a person might have touched it,” people were less likely to buy it.

Her research also looked into how simple labels — like calling something organic — can eliminate the negativity associated with dented boxes, ripped labels and the like.

“There’s an example of things called ‘vintage’ or ‘distressed’ — it’s not a food product … but it’s clothing or furniture, old and damaged because of some kind of contamination. But it gets viewed positively,” White said.

The findings also give argument in favour of overpackaging. It found where there were multiple layers, or additional “barriers” in the packaging, shoppers were more likely to overlook damage to the external wrapping.

“We didn’t find the effect when there was almost like two layers of packaging … there’s ways you can have the best of both worlds, using packaging that could either be recycled or compost in some way.”

Often, White said, many imperfect products are returned to the producer or discarded as they won’t sell.

Some things businesses could do is promote the damaged products through sales or other positive attributes. Consumers, meanwhile, should ask themselves whether the damage truly impacts quality.

Associated Labels and Packaging can help you meet the needs of producing the right label, film or flexible packaging for your product. For recommendations on the right sub straight for you, please contact sales@associated-labels.com

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