The food industry is a very demanding trade. Big grocery shelf names took years to perfect not only their recipes but also their marketing strategies.

How do you even begin to break through, you ask

One of the most important elements of their successful campaigns is the food label design. Experts in the business will tell you that this is a good place to start.

The label is the most conspicuous feature of the food packaging, and it is the main tool that lets you start a relationship with customers. In this article, we discuss the food labeling aspects that consumers value most. We also provide some basic tips on creating food labels that will let you compete even with industry giants.

Label Design for Your Food Business

What Attracts Customers to a Food Label?

Courting a consumer bracket requires research and planning. Going in blind is not only costly but also risky for your brand. You need to know what label components tick with your target market before selling your product, or else you might be forced to close up shop prematurely. Below, we rounded up some of the aspects of food labeling that, according to research, greatly influence buying decisions.


How Nifty Is Your Food Label Design?

Your food packaging is the first thing that catches customers’ attention, and your label design can make or break it. The majority of Americans make purchasing decisions based on packaging design alone, and not even the pandemic-triggered online shopping surge has changed that.

When we talk about food label design, it’s not only the label’s visual appeal that matters. The way you place it on the container also makes an impact. Research shows that the sight of food inside a transparent package is more enticing to the average consumer than a mere label picture. So if you’re using see-through packaging, know that creating gaps between different label parts allows customers to imagine tasting your product.

If you just began taking your first steps in the food industry and your logo is not yet recognizable, it’s best to use this tidbit to your advantage.


Did You Disclose Your Product’s Nutrition Information?

If the design gets their attention, it’s the amount and quality of information that will sustain their interest in your label… and product, for that matter.

Thanks to the FDA and HHS’s healthy eating campaigns, more Americans have become portion-conscious. Seven out of ten consumers check the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list before they purchase food.

People also watch out for the presence of allergens, potentially toxic substances, ingredients banned by certain groups, etc. and avoid them whenever possible. So even if small businesses are exempt from including a nutrition facts panel on food labels, doing so early benefits you immensely.

At enKo Products, we are committed to helping small business owners in various aspects of food labeling. Below are links to some of the articles that we wrote about making food labels FDA-compliant:


Who Doesn’t Take Labeling Integrity Seriously?

Certainly not you. So if you expect it from companies you do business with, assume that your customers expect it from you, too.

People cannot help but act on their beliefs, and some of them can be unwittingly misguided. Fake news also magnifies the problem. Information like food origin, traceability and health claims can make loyal customers out of some but turn away the others.

Do not be tempted to conceal product information. Consumers always have a way of knowing, and the law forbids it. If you’re confident about your food’s quality and safety, you should disclose all pertinent information on your label.


Where Do You Stand on Environmental Issues?

Americans support companies that openly protect the environment. Among food retailers, they can tell who is truly a sustainability advocate by the quality of their packaging and the messaging on their label.

So how do you win over the environmentally conscious? Here are some tips:

  • Do not overdo your packaging or labels. Wastefulness is not a sign that you support resource conservation.
  • Emphasize on your label the company practices that allow you to protect the planet. Does your company encourage recycling among employees and customers? Do you use only green cleaning products? Are your manufacturing processes energy-efficient? Saying yes to these questions will rank you high on the consumers’ minds as a green business.
  • Saying that a product is organic does not always guarantee safety. Compliance with FDA and state labeling rules does. However, if you insist on labeling your food as organic, you may have it certified by the USDA through the National Organic Program.
Where Do You Stand on Environmental Issues


How Do You Make Them See Your Accountability?

Your food label must enable you to respond to consumers’ questions, feedback and requests to initiate a product return. It’s best to include your business address and a hotline in the information panel, as this shows your accountability. You may also put your email address or social media account, but remember that neither one can legally replace your company address or phone number.


How Neat Is Your Packaging?

Neatness speaks a lot about your business standards, which is critical when you’re selling edibles. When you apply your label, make sure that:

    • Your label adhesive is not sticking out.
    • The label stays on the container until the customer removes it.
    • The printing is clean.
    • The label is not lopsided, etc.


Why Should They Buy from You and Not the Others?

You can make the tastiest salsa on the planet, but people still won’t buy from you if you don’t spell out its best qualities.

Have you defined your unique selling proposition? Put in another way, do you know what makes your product unique and lovable? Once you’ve figured it out, say it using a short, catchy slogan. That should help imprint your brand in the public’s memory.

All of these attributes are important when designing your food label. It’s best to know what to say about your product and how to say it before you head to the drawing board.

Why Should They Buy from You and Not the Others

How Do You Make a Food Label Design that Keeps Them Dunking Your Product in Their Carts?

You may not have enough funding for custom-made labels at the start of your business. But that shouldn’t stop you from creating great designs on your own. Here is a quick and dirty guide for making eye-catching food labels:


Choose Your Food Packaging

Food packaging does more than just attract customers—it also protects your product. Startups can choose from a wide array of inexpensive materials, including cardstock, plastic, glass, metal, foam, etc.

Many aspects of the food packaging, e. g. type, shape, and color, will impact your label design. You can find more information on choosing the right food packaging in the following enKo Products articles:


Conceptualize Your Label Architecture

How should you present all the necessary information on your food label? Here are some things to consider:

  • Label color—it should match the color of your packaging. Use the Pantone color space for the best results.              
  • Label shape—intricate borders are generally used on pricey products, whereas simple ones are used on less expensive merchandise. If you can mix them up without dampening people’s expectations of your product, by all means, do it. 
  • Logo design—it should represent your company values and be appealing to your target crowd at the same time. Simpler logos are usually more memorable than complex ones.
  • Typography—refers to the font type, color, size and other visual aspects of your label’s text. The most important goal is to make food labeling information hard to miss. Visual appeal comes second, and it should complement the other design aspects. Use the CMYK color space for the best results.
  • Graphical elements other than your logo—curved lines are associated with elegance and straight ones with efficiency. Certification seals and other images must not stifle mandatory information. You may opt to create a food label design from scratch or use a downloadable template. Keep in mind that black and white designs are cheaper than colored ones.
  • Photos—as previously mentioned, including food pictures on the label can be less effective than making your product visible inside its packaging. Photos are no different. If you plan to include them anyway, use the appropriate photo-editing app so you can create professional-looking labels every time.
  • Spaces between different sets of information—create enough space between the principal display and information panels. Overcrowding the text will make food labels look boring and ward off customers.

For more information on food label visual elements, check out what the enKo Products team wrote on these subjects:


Decide What Printing Technology to Use

It’s perfectly fine to print your labels using an inexpensive inkjet or laser printer. Some tradeoffs, however, are:

  • You are limited to using only paper as your facestock material.
  • Glossy labels smear when you print with inkjet.
  • Inkjet and laser prints do not have the same quality as that of a custom-made label.
  • Inkjet-printed materials smudge when wet.

An alternative to these printer types is the thermal transfer printer. It is pricier, but it has the following advantages:

  • Thermal transfer prints are smudge-proof and fade-resistant.
  • Aside from paper and thin cardstock, this kind of printer also works well with plastic, latex and fabric labels. It also lets you use any label finish.
  • The printing quality is comparable to retail store labels, even though printing costs are less than what you would pay for custom-made labels.

Prices of new thermal transfer printers start at $280, depending on the brand and make. You can buy second-hand ones for half the price.

Decide What Printing Technology to Use


Find Excellent Labeling Materials

When it comes to food labeling materials, the most popular choice is always the sheet label, like the high-quality ones that enKo Products customers love. Sheet labels have the following advantages:

  • They are made of paper, the least expensive labeling material.
  • Paper is non-toxic. It is FDA-approved for food packaging and labeling.
  • Sheet labels are easy to design. Templates are easy to access online.
  • They are widely available.
  • They can go with any packaging material.
  • They remain stable over a wide range of temperatures. You can use them for ice cream or hot dips. They can even withstand hot ovens.
  • They are self-adhesive labels, so they are convenient to use.

The major downside to a sheet label is its tendency to tear up easily when wet. If you need more durable food labels, don’t hesitate to use plastic.

BOPP and polyethylene labels have great visual appeal. They are also recyclable and non-toxic. However, they are more expensive than sheet labels, and they melt at very high temperatures.

PVC is another commonly used alternative. You can also create great designs from this material. However, aside from its price, PVC may pose some health risks, as it is made from the known carcinogen vinyl chloride. The latter is included in the Prop 65 list.


Print a Test Label

After finishing your design and finding the right labeling materials, you are now ready to print a test label. Note any color smudges, margin lopsidedness, text crowding, spelling errors and other elements that can reduce its appeal. If you find anything off, chances are, it will also repel potential buyers.

Try sticking it on your packaging to see how they blend. Show it to friends and family, in person and on social media. Crowdsource some ideas.

Take advantage of this stage to perfect your label before you release your product in the market.


Print a Batch of Labels and Start Selling

Finally, when you think you’ve created the perfect food label, it’s time to make money off of your investment. Most startups will sell at the nearest mom-and-pop grocery store, if not on their own property. But do not forget that selling food online also has its advantages. Here are some of our articles on this topic:

With our no-fuss guide here, you’re now ready to make not just any food label but a food label that effectively sells.


To sum it up, when designing a food label, the first thing you need to do is determine the amount of information you will put on it. Then figure out a way to deliver the message to potential customers that reflects your brand personality. Doing these lets you create a food label design strategically.

Once you start designing your food label, it is important to remember that its visual elements should blend well with your packaging. Decide what materials to use. Print a test label before making multiples. Being thoughtful about the label design process will take you far in the business.

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