- Food and beverage manufacturers' packaging teams will be busy over the next two months as they prepare for the July 1 deadline of Vermont's mandatory GMO labeling law.
- Because packaging engineers will have to focus on the product development side of their job responsibilities, other areas could be neglected until the GMO labeling changes are finalized. These include productivity and cost-saving measures.
- Packaging teams will be taking care of a number of tasks related to preparation and implementation of the new GMO labels, including new packaging graphics, new print plates, and new printed packaging.
Just over two months is not a lot of time for manufacturers to redesign packaging for all SKUs across their portfolios, or at least those sold in Vermont. Many manufacturers have been working on changes, including the handful of large companies that committed to GMO labeling for all of their products sold across the U.S. earlier this year. This option is seen as more logical, because it can be costly to change the label needs for only one state's market.
Other companies have decided to pull their products from Vermont altogether. This option has its own costs involved, however, including the costs of lost sales potential.
Once a manufacturer determines whether its products contain GMO ingredients, it then needs to determine whether the product or an ingredient is exempt from the law. Cost is a major concern for manufacturers when it comes to packaging redesigns. The company may need to add a statement about GMO ingredients, such as "(partially/may be) produced with genetic engineering," per the law's requirements.
New packaging graphics have to be developed to reflect those changes. With new graphics comes the need for new print plates. Factors like material, number of colors, and size could significantly impact the price of those new plates — as much as thousands of dollars per unique SKU, according to Packaging Digest. Packaging engineers may pursue cost management strategies to offset the costs of the redesign, such as to change materials, ink selection, coating, or decorating techniques (such as embossing or hot vs. cold-plate stamping).