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Labels for food products – how to choose the right material

FOOD LABELSThe huge variety of self-adhesive labels for the food industry can give you hundreds of opportunities and ways to present your brand and product in the best way but it is just this variety that makes the label material choice a difficult  task.


As a label manufacturer with many years of experience, we’ll try to provide you with information about the self-adhesive materials used for production of food labels.

Different materials have specific properties and characteristics such as appearance, feeling, resistance and ability to adhere to different surfaces.


Labels consist of three separate layers:

  • The paper face material for labels - the material, that is being printed on; most often paper or foil;
  • The adhesive, applied to the back of the face material;
  • The label liner - siliconized paper or foil on which the labels are initially glued.


The first thing to consider when choosing the material for your labels is the product package on which the label will be applied. Usually standard adhesives have some versatility and adhere well to plastic, metal, glass and cardboard, but you should always keep in mind that incompatibilities between the adhesive and the packaging material may cause label application problems.

Another factor when choosing a material for the production of labels is the environment it is housed. Many factors can negatively affect the process of manually or automatic label application: temperature of the labels or the product, humidity of the environment or labels, dustiness of the product, greasing, moisture or condensation, chemicals, etc. In order to avoid all these negative factors and to guarantee quality in the labeling process, it is necessary to have a good knowledge of the types of materials and adhesives to be able to select the most appropriate combination on a case by case basis.




White Semi-Gloss Paper - This is machine processed paper for receiving the needed smoothness, suitable for printing with most conventional printing technologies. Like most paper materials, it is not resistant to moisture, grease or chemicals. It is not suitable for labels that can withstand more aggressive conditions, does not have good mechanical resistance. Its specific characteristics and good value for money make it the most widely used paper for label production for the food industry. Most often it is combined with permanent/ universal adhesive, removable adhesive or such one for frozen products.


Direct thermal paper – This is a white matt coated paper with additional thermal-sensitive coating. Most often direct thermal labels are used for printing text, graphics and barcodes in one color by using direct thermal barcode printers and scales. Direct thermal labels can also be pre-printed in full color using standard printing technology. They can be combined with permanent/ universal adhesive, removable adhesive or adhesive for frozen products, depending on the specific purpose of the labels.

Most manufacturers of direct thermal adhesive papers for labels offer mainly two types - Thermal Eco - non-protective direct thermal paper, most commonly used by scales in supermarkets and stores, and Thermal Top - with additional protective coating on the thermal layer and the paper itself, which enhances the label resistance to moisture and grease and makes them suitable for frozen, dairy and meat products.


Foil materials

The most common foil materials used in the food industry are white or transparent polypropylene, glossy or matte. This material is available in a version with thermal coating and can be used for overprinting by scales or direct thermal printers. This combination can make the foil label both looks luxurious and at the same time functional and very resistant. Foil labels are suitable for products stored at extremely high humidity. They are resistant to fats and are suitable for dairy, meat, oil products, etc.




Permanent / universal adhesive

The universal adhesive is suitable for adhering to cardboard packaging, glass bottles, some plastic packaging and metal. It covers a wide range of applications, but in specific ones it is recommended to use specialized adhesives designed to meet the relevant requirements.


Removable glue

This adhesive is designed to adhere well to slightly rough surfaces. Removable adhesive labels can be easily peeled off and re-attached in case of improper adhesion. This adhesive is also used in cases where there should be no residue or traces when removing the label from the product. The adhesive may not be completely clean on very smooth surfaces.


Adhesive for frozen products

In case the labels will be applied to wet surfaces, frozen products or those to be stored or transported at low temperatures, a combination of face material and adhesive for frozen products may be used.



Siliconized paper is most commonly used as a liner, but in the case of using a high-performance label applicator, a foil liner is more appropriate. It is more durable and does not tear in the process of labeling. Another advantage is the ability to be recycled.


Our specialists will support you in making the right choice for your labels to fully meet the brand vision, the labeling process and the product storage requirements.


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