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Simple labeling changes can escalate sales

savSimple changes on a produce packaging label can drastically influence consumer purchases of that product.

Tony Cook, chief executive officer of Great Lakes Label LLC, said his customers have seen this immediately build retail sales by as much as 30 percent.

Cook, who in 1994 started the company in Comstock, MI, credits the fresh produce industry’s recent heightened sophistication to more effectively use produce labeling to boost sales. Great Lakes Label serves other sectors, including pre-cut products, private grocery labels, food and beverage companies, and quick-serve restaurants.

He noted that trade shows in other industries, which parallel the Produce Marketing Association, have a greater exhibit representation by label and packaging companies.

But in recent years, “I think the produce industry is starting to get more innovative through its appreciation of the potential of labeling,” he said.

In produce, one simple but productive change is to put recipes on clamshell labels’ adhesive side or they could use an extended content label, such as a tri-panel label. Consumers cannot read those recipes until the product is opened at home, but the top label can inform that the recipe will be seen on the interior.

“Everywhere that we’ve put in this additional message, the customers told us they had a huge growth in results,” he said. “There is not much more cost than printing just one side of the label.”

Cook advised another simple move; a company can use three similar but different lid labels — with three different inside recipes. This encourages consumers to buy a different label to get a second recipe.

Cook also suggested that produce packaging labels can maximize sales through product use suggestions. For example, if a packer ships two different commodities, such as strawberries and kiwifruit, these can be shown together in artwork on the strawberry package to suggest picking up the sister kiwifruit package. Or, of course, the same principle can be applied to crossing merchandising with complementary products.

Cook cautioned against redundancy. For instance, if strawberries are sold in a clear clamshell, consumers can see the contents. So, the label’s valuable and limited space can be put to more informative use beyond displaying a picture of strawberries.

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