Convenience Foods

Printing onto Ready Meal Sleeves

Ready meal sleeve coding can be accomplished by different technologies; depending on the type of sleeve material, speed of packing line, artwork and code position it is possible to use continuous inkjet, thermal inkjet or laser coding.

Continuous inkjet printers can be used to print onto a variety of materials and therefore offer flexibility to print date codes and batch codes onto porous or non-porous sleeve material. They are also particularly effective at printing onto frozen meals where some condensation may be present.
Thermal inkjet printers offer great code quality and are service-free. Thermal inkjet printers can be used when the distance to the sleeve material is consistent and they can be positioned within a few millimetres of the surface.

For dark coloured sleeves where a white date code window isn’t available, laser coding can be used to produce a contrasting code by removing a layer of ink from the carton artwork. Laser coding is best used for medium to high speed production lines where consistent materials and product presentation are used. Read more about our printers for convenience food coding below.

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Printers for convenience food coding

Printing onto Ready Meal Tray and Film

Printing onto ready meal trays and film from tray sealers can be completed by using continuous inkjet printers or thermal inkjet printers.

Continuous inkjet printers offer flexibility and a wide range of inks including thermochromic or UV readable inks if discreet coding on trays or film is required. Continuous inkjet printers can print multiple lines of text onto film making them ideal for printing of ingredients, product descriptions and date coding.

Thermal Inkjet printers can be cost-effective if sleeve and film printing is possible on the same production or packing line. More than one printhead can be fitted to a single controller thereby allowing simple code set-up and line control. The distance from printheads to a controller can be up to 25m.

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Printers for convenience food coding

Printing onto Pouches

Pouches are increasingly used for convenience foods such as microwave rice or other grains and pulses. Printing these with a Citronix ci5300 is the ideal solution especially if thermochromic black to red ink is required which gives a colour change when exposed to high temperature and steam in a retort process. The Citronix ci5300 continuous inkjet printer can print up to 3 lines of date and batch codes onto plastic pouches at medium to high speeds.

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Printers for convenience food coding

Printing onto Sandwich Skillets

Sandwich skillets, typically cardboard, can be printed by ink jet or laser. Both continuous ink jet printers or thermal ink jet printers can be used successfully to print 2 or 3 lines of text including date codes or batch codes.

If the sandwich pack is moving narrow edge leading on the sandwich sealing machine a continuous ink jet printer mounted to a traverser can be used to print across multiple lanes when the packs are stationary. Different height fonts can be used to distinguish between ‘Best Before’ dates and batch codes.

As an alternative, thermal ink jet printers can be installed to print at 90 degrees to the direction of pack travel. An additional advantage of thermal ink jet printers is that multiple printheads can be fitted to a single controller giving a smaller, cost effective solution.

To eliminate consumable usage Laser coding can be used to ablate (remove) a layer of print from the skillet giving a contrasting code. Lasers are particularly effective when used on darker coloured materials.

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Printers for convenience food coding

Labelling Salad Bowls and Thermoformed Trays

Salad bowls and other forms of container are increasingly common. These are mostly labelled, most notably to provide a tamper evident seal on small containers with an over the edge label. Salad bowls in the food to go section of supermarkets are pre-labelled with product information and a barcode.

Our range of Intrex Label applicators has a wide variety of applicators with handling systems to match the most difficult of products. By adding a printer to the labeller it is possible to printer variable information such as date or batch codes onto the label before it is applied.

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Printing and Labelling Boxes, Cases and Trays

If you need to apply a label onto cases, boxes or tray our M230i print and apply labellers are ideal. With top, side, corner wrap or front apply labellers we can cope with almost any requirement or speed. For higher speeds we can supply tandem or alternative pack labelling systems. 4” and 6” labellers are available in thermal transfer or direct thermal (ribbonless) versions. 600m ribbon rolls and tool-less printhead mean downtime is kept to a minimum helping to improve overall line efficiencies.

Our labellers can be provided with label creation software or can be interfaced with existing software packages such as Bartender, Nicelabel or Easylabel.

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Printers for convenience food coding

Pallet Labelling

Pallet labelling needs to be precise, reliable and consistent. Our pallet labellers are compact with short labelling cycles to apply one, two or three A5 labels to the front and sides of pallets typically with only one stop of the pallet. This means that shorter pallet conveyor lengths are needed. The aluminium cabinet construction means this is a cost-effective solution; for beverage or dairy applications where large amounts of water may be present, stainless steel cabinets with sealed doors and pneumatic sliding doors for the applicator help protect the important components.

Software is provided with the pallet labellers for label creation and to interface into your own systems. Part pallets can also be accommodated.

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Convenience Foods Page

Still not sure which of our printers for convenience food coding is suitable for your production needs? Speak with one of our representatives about our range of machines today! Our friendly team are on hand to help.


Carrwood Park
Swillington Common Farm
Selby Road, Leeds
LS15 4LG

t: +44 113 337 2070

e: [email protected]