In conversation with Baker Labels
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We caught up with Steve Baker, managing director of UK based label converter Baker Labels, who explains how they made the transition into flexible packaging. Speaking ahead of his Labelexpo Europe 2023 flexible packaging master class session, he gives us a sneak preview of what he’ll be covering….
So Steve, how’s it going at Baker Labels? What’s new?
All is going well, there has obviously been a slight drop off over the last few months, but overall we are in good shape.
As always, we have continued to invest in the business, be that equipment, systems and process, employees or the building – we have a new pouch maker and automatic spouter being installed in the coming months, which will give us a lot more production capabilities
It’s great to have you join us at the Label Academy hosted master class dedicated to flexible packaging! Tell us a bit about what you and son Harry will be presenting in your session….
The main areas will be why we took the decision to start up BakPac to supply flexible packaging, the initial hurdles, our assumptions along with the realities, the investment involved, and with hindsight would I do it again!
Why did Baker make the move into flexible packaging, and can you tell us about the process?
Without giving too much away before the master class session, the truth is we are always looking for opportunities in print, that could be shrink sleeve, embellishments, automation, cartons, multilayer, web to print etc. We had been looking at flexible packaging for a while and felt the time was good to go for this at that time.
The process required is to set up a separate division within the main business, as virtually everything that you know re labels and label production becomes irrelevant!
It’s said that moving into flexible packaging is fraught with challenges. Can you expand on that a little from your own experience?
It really is – labels is secondary packaging and the worst case scenario if things go wrong are reprinting and maybe re-labelling the product. Flexible packaging is all about the function and safety as the product has direct contact with what you have produced, any contamination or failure in the integrity of the pouch could lead to not only a reject but also a product recall and liability for the entire product! Very scary when starting out!
In what ways do you think advancements in flexible packaging have changed the label industry, and how do you foresee this in the next five years?
Here in the UK, we haven’t seen any major changes yet but it is coming, I recently visited India and they are fully embracing the cost savings associated with flexible packaging – products like shampoo, mayonnaise, sauces, soap powder, cereals etc. were all in pouches, all removing the need for rigid containers with a front and back label or a carton.
Over the next 5 years, more and more producers will go with the environmental advantages of flexible packaging, I think currently there is a concern on how the public will react to the convenience of just buying a product rather than looking to a refill, but it will change and the demand will become huge.
What single piece of advice would you give to other converters considering moving into flexibles?
Buy from a trusted partner – BakPac – develop your market and understand the pitfalls before you invest!
What are you most looking forward to seeing at Labelexpo Europe 2023?
Anything new and exciting! It’s been a long time coming so there should be plenty to see
Hear Steve present “From labels to flexibles - a converter perspective” from 1.05-1.30pm on Tuesday 12 September 2023. For the full program, visit www.labelexpo-europe.com/label-academy-master-class-flexible-packaging.