Understanding Coffee Bag Label Requirements

Today, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. In 2020, experts speculate that over 166.63 million 60 kilogram bags of coffee were consumed across the world. This level of popularity means coffee is a big business; the global coffee market is currently valued at around USD 102.02 billion

As in nearly all other forms of global trade, those participating in today’s coffee market are required to follow strict traceability guidelines. To ensure consumer safety and maintain accurate inventory, coffee companies must outfit their products with labels and text, including date codes, batch codes, origin location, and more. 

Without these codes, companies run the risk of incurring fines, losing inventory, and souring their distribution partnerships. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to comply with modern coffee bag label requirements when you know the regulations and have the right technology for product marking. 

Essential Coffee Bag Label Requirements

Although coffee beans are classified under ‘food/beverage’, coffee bags themselves are not required to follow many of the complex labeling standards laid out by the US Food and Drug Administration. Food/beverage label mainstays like nutritional fact tables and ingredient lists don’t apply to bags of coffee beans/grounds—as long as there are no additives or additional ingredients beyond stock beans/grounds within the product packaging. 

However, coffee companies are still required to follow the labeling guidelines laid out in the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, the FPLA requires that all consumer goods (including coffee bags) bear the following information on their packaging:

  1. A statement identifying the commodity (e.g., coffee beans, grounds, etc.)
  2. The name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor (i.e., the packaging group or roaster)
  3. The net quantity of the contents (i.e., the metric weight of the enclosed beans/grounds)

Generally speaking, coffee companies can most easily comply with these requirements by including the information on the stock bag itself. 

Beyond the FPLA, coffee companies are also frequently required by distribution partners to include traceable information on their product packaging. This required information most commonly includes:

  • Barcodes
  • Lot codes
  • Expiration dates

While barcodes are often made part of the product packaging along with FPLA information, lot codes and expiration dates by nature must be applied on a batch-by-batch basis. This requires the use of variable data marking technologies.

The Best Coffee Bag Marking Technologies

When choosing the best technology to mark coffee bags with variable data, one must consider several factors. First and foremost, consider output. 

For a small local roaster that’s selling coffee bags directly to consumers without distribution, for example, lot codes aren’t necessary, and date codes can be applied by hand. Conversely, larger roasters will find it necessary to invest in automated marking hardware to keep up with product demands. 

For those using large assembly line technologies such as pouch-filling machines and VSSF hardware to pack their coffee bags, high-speed marking machines are required to maintain operational efficiency. The two most common hardware options for these applications are:

  1. Continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers
  2. Laser coders

Coffee companies frequently choose these machines for their fast marking speeds, 24/7 marking capabilities, and compatibility with common coffee bag materials such as Kraft paper,  folding cartons and lightweight plastic. 

Despite CIJ printers and laser coders both being capable of marking industrial quantities of coffee bags, they do have very different associated costs and upkeep needs. When choosing between these technologies, coffee companies should be aware that:

  • Laser coders cost significantly more upfront than CIJ printers but have fewer ongoing expenses (e.g., marking consumables, maintenance needs, etc.).
  • Laser coders often last longer than CIJ printers, but CIJ printers can last years and years with proper upkeep. This upkeep does require CIJ users to perform more periodic maintenance than laser users, however.
  • Although both laser coders and CIJ machines can mark all common coffee bag materials, CIJ users must be diligent when selecting formulas for their bags because improper ink could impact indirect contact with the coffee through the material. Not all inks can be used on the non-food contact side of food packaging.

Given how many important factors there are when choosing between these two technologies, we always recommend consulting with an expert before investing in either option.

Need Help Complying With Coffee Bag Label Requirements? InkJet, Inc. Is Here To Support You

Although coffee bag label requirements are often stringent, they aren’t hard to comply with when you have the right technology. At InkJet, Inc., we’ve been helping businesses meet industry-specific labeling standards for over 30 years. 

We carry an array of labeling machines as well as a variety of in-house formulated inks that can help you get your coffee products up to code. Contact us today to discuss which marking solution will work best for you.

To learn more about coffee bag label requirements and how to comply with them, contact us online today or call 1(800) 280-3245