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Labeling for Small Businesses: Where to Start & Why It’s Important


Designing food product labels can be exciting

Creating a great design that exemplifies the food and the company behind it can be fun

Planning a merchandisable design that wins sales can be… challenging

Your label is the first thing consumers see, so having an effectively designed label is crucial to your business. A well-designed label will positively portray your brand personality and voice to potential customers and hopefully get them to buy. 

Luckily, creative labels are an affordable solution compared to custom packaging. Food label marketing is fun, but it’s not easy. Follow these tips and work with your label provider to get your products from the shelf and into your customers’ hands and kitchens!

Know your audience

Before you begin, you need to know what your customers are looking for. What problems do your customers have? How does your food product help solve them? Your label should promote quality, fresh ingredients and sanitary production processes as well as convey delicious flavor. You also need to understand customer expectations. If you’re transparent and honest, the message on your labels can do wonders for your sales and result in greater consumer recognition and trust.

Know your competition

It doesn’t matter what kind of food product you’re retailing (BBQ sauce, salad dressing or hummus), it is likely to be on a shelf surrounded by a plethora of competing products. Your food product label design should be marked differently from your competitors’. You should meet customer expectations in a new and profound way that gets attention and sets you apart from your competitors.

Show the food

Consider a label design with a clear see-through section so shoppers can see the food inside. Images of food on the labels are one thing, but seeing the tasty treat that could be theirs in just a few short minutes is priceless.

Highlight ingredients and features

Instead of depicting your food on the packaging, show the fresh ingredients that went into making it. Don’t be afraid to highlight unique features so they’re easy to see – organic logos, award/contest winnings, family-owned, taste-test votes, preparation techniques, the original ingredient – anything that sets you apart!

Design for post-sale marketing

The label is prime real estate for your marketing efforts. Whenever possible, include a QR code or website so customers can learn more about your product or maybe lookup recipes. When launching a food product for retail, the label is one of the few weapons you have against the big brands, and in most cases, it’s the #1 deciding factor for consumers making their purchasing decisions.

FDA Compliance

Finally, your food product labels must be FDA compliant. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has five elements that must be included on your retail food packaging labels: 

  1. Statement of Identity – Product must be clearly identified along with the intended use. Most people know how to use the package’s food, however suggestions are a great way to inspire a purchase.
  2. Net Weight – The net weight is the weight of the food or consumable contents without packaging.
  3. Manufacturer Information – Include the name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor. You’ll also need to include a qualifying phrase that describes your company’s relationship to the firm (‘distributed by’, ‘manufactured for’, etc…)
  4. Nutrition Facts – The nutrition facts and ingredients should be on the same panel to make it easier for the intended audience to easily read the facts. The nutritional panel must be perfectly readable with:
    • Serving Size 
    • Nutrients 
    • Vitamins and Minerals 
  1. Ingredients – Everything that went into the food or liquid needs to be on the label. Ingredients need to be listed in order of most to least in the amount used for the product. Be sure to include any disclaimers about allergens. 

Ready to build your brand and start creating an effectively designed label for your food product? 

Bollin Label can assist you with every step. From concept, design and material selection, to proper ink usage and printing. Bollin Label provides quality labeling for small businesses, solutions and an outstanding customer experience. Discover your brand with Bollin Label from concept to container!

Learn more about CIFT’s small business assistance program and the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen to get your business going.

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