PaperAge Magazine

Walmart Turns Case Printing On Its Head

Injet Barcoding on corrugated boxes Among other things, Walmart wants to rule out ink-jet printing on cases for the 14-digit Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and the bar code symbol representing that number due to problems with legibility.

By By Pat Reynolds, VP Editor, Packaging World

March 22, 2016 - A February 2016 announcement from Walmart titled “Master Case Labeling Standards and Expectations” sent tremors through Consumer Packaged Goods companies across the country.

Not only does it rule out ink-jet printing on cases for the 14-digit Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and the bar code symbol representing that number, but it also stipulates that all four sides of a corrugated case must carry trade item information.

Driving this announcement — which affects primarily dry grocery and food items, excluding fresh meat, fish, poultry, and produce — is Walmart's claim that its store associates aren't able to get merchandise onto a store shelf efficiently enough when master cases don't have trade item information on all four sides or when the bar code is illegible and thus can't be scanned. And because, claims Walmart, bar codes printed with ink-jet technology are not as consistently legible as those printed flexographically, henceforth only flexo will be accepted by Walmart where printing of GTIN on corrugated cases is concerned.

To understand why this edict has CPG companies scratching their heads, it's important to analyze separately its two key components: A) Walmart's dim view of ink jet and B) Walmart's requirement for four-side-printing. Let's start with ink jet.

Ink-jet printing is a key strategy that CPG companies rely on to keep corrugated inventories to a minimum. Suppose, for example, that ABC Yogurt Company makes the same 6-oz yogurt product in grape, cherry, pineapple, peach, and strawberry varieties. The identical case can be used for all five varieties. The firm's corrugated supplier uses a flexographic press to print the ABC Yogurt Company logo on all of the cases, and because the artwork is the same for all the cases it means large orders, long runs, and fewer printing plate costs. All of this maximizes efficiency and reduces overall cost. And the flavor variations? They get ink-jet-printed on ABC Yogurt's packaging lines along with the GTIN that is specific to each flavor variety as well as lot and date code info.

Now imagine that ink-jet printing is no longer in compliance and only flexographic printing is allowed.

Go to the full story at Packaging World: www.packworld.com/trends-and-issues/validation-compliance-and-documentation/walmart-turns-case-printing-its-head.

SOURCE: Packaging World