Food packaging is a critical field. If a problem occurs, such as a chemical migrating into the food, the public understandably gets worried, and the brand owner faces all sorts of legal issues and recalls.
There have been a variety of issues in recent years. Perhaps most notoriously, Nestle had to recall millions of liters of baby milk after isopropyl thioxanthone, or ITX, from the offset-printed packaging was found in the milk.
Needless to say, Nestle didn’t relish the cost or the publicity, and has since taken the global lead on ensuring safe food packaging, emphasizing low migration and clean facilities.
As a supplier with ties to the global packaging industry, Kustom Group has put an emphasis on its food packaging, and last month, broke ground of its new separate building for manufacturing Nestle compliant products as well as products which must be produced with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). The facility is expected to be operational in mid-2014.
Matthew Apke, product manager coatings development for Kustom Group, LLC, noted that printers and print suppliers in Europe are operating under these standards to meet the requirements of initiatives like Nestle Compliance and Swiss Ordinance, and U.S. customers expect the same standards.
“As we continue to operate in a global economy, our industry in the U.S. is feeling pressure to meet these requirements as well,” Apke said. “Our customers in the U.S. need a manufacturer domestically to provide GMP type materials, and we want to be a leader in providing them.”
The new facility is located on the current Kustom Group manufacturing site, but will be its own separate building. This allows for production of ink raw materials, overprints and coatings with no possibility of cross contamination.
“We will be manufacturing oil-based and energy curable additives, overprints, coatings and ink raw materials,” Apke said. “These GMP materials give our customers a known and reliable partner to supply the complete package of ink and finishing materials to print food, pharmaceutical, medical device and personal care packaging that meet the standards for low migration, mineral oil free and Swiss and Nestle compliance.
“Packaging in general is currently one of if not the largest growth segments of the print industry,” Apke added. “Our commitment to specialized and niche materials has already opened the door for us in the sales of overprints and coatings into the packaging market. Our customers continue to ask us for the types of materials required to print these types of packaging. This new facility is being constructed with all of that in mind.”
Apke noted that feedback from customers on this initiative has been extremely positive.
“Many of our customers have had to build similar facilities in Europe to meet the new guidelines,” Apke said. “Before deciding to build identical facilities in the U.S., they have been looking for a viable partner and contacting us about intent to supply this market. Our customers see an advantage to a domestic supplier, and do not have to rely on the capital investment to do it themselves. Some of them are still hesitant to move their materials toward this type of process, and are relying on us to be the leaders to help them get there.”