Increased product demand and an extensive supply chain mean traditional coffee packaging may no longer be the best way to meet consumers’ needs.
Smart packaging is an emerging technology in the food packaging industry, and can help address consumer questions and demands. A form of smart packaging that has recently become popular is Quick Response (QR) codes.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, brands began using QR codes to facilitate contact-free customer communication. As people become familiar with the concept, a growing number of brands are using them to relay more information than packaging can provide.
A QR code on coffee bags can offer consumers additional information on a coffee’s quality, origins, and flavour notes. As more consumers are demanding accountability from their coffee brands, QR codes can help roasters communicate details on a coffee’s journey from seed to cup.
Read on to find out more about how to custom-print coffee bags with QR codes and how it can benefit roasters.
What are QR codes?
QR codes were invented in 1994 to help Japanese company Toyota streamline manufacturing processes.
Essentially, a QR code is a data carrier mark encoded with data – much like a sophisticated barcode. Scanning the QR code will typically redirect the user to a website that contains additional information.
QR codes were initially introduced to the consumer market in 2017 when smartphones began integrating code reading software into their cameras. Since then, they have been approved by major standardisation bodies.
The global use of smartphones and access to high-speed internet have increased the number of customers who are able to access QR codes.
Notably, between 2018 and 2020, the number of QR code interactions, as well as the number of people reached via QR codes, increased by over 90%. This shows more people are scanning QR codes, and usually, more than once.
A 2021 study revealed more than half of respondents would scan a QR code to learn more about a brand.
Additionally, they are more likely to buy something if it has a QR code on the packaging. More so, over 70% would use their smartphone to learn more about a potential purchase.
Using QR codes on coffee packaging
QR codes offer roasters a unique opportunity to connect and communicate with customers.
While many businesses choose to use it as a payment mechanism, this may not apply to roasters. This is because a decent percentage of sales may come from online orders.
Furthermore, this means roasters can avoid safety and security concerns that come with using QR codes to facilitate payments.
That said, there are a number of ways roasters can use QR codes on coffee packaging.
For the majority of roasters, including a coffee’s origin story on packaging can be a challenge.
Whether a roaster is working with a single large producer, or offering limited edition micro lots, QR codes can be used to trace the coffee’s journey from farm to cup. For example, 1850 Coffee encourages customers to scan the code to pull up information on their coffee’s growth, processing, exportation, and roast location.
Additionally, it shows customers how the money from their purchase helps coffee farmers through sustainable water and agricultural initiatives.
Coffee waste often happens among customers who do not know their consumption levels, or are unaware of how to store coffee properly at home.
QR codes can help prevent this by advising customers of a coffee’s lifespan. A 2020 study of best-by dates on milk cartons shows QR codes are more effective at conveying a product’s shelf life.
An increasing number of coffee brands are adopting sustainable business practices.
At the same time, more consumers are aware of what “greenwashing” is, and how often it can take place. Greenwashing refers to a practice in which organisations make unsubstantiated or exaggerated claims to portray an environmentally friendly image.
A QR code can help roasters communicate how every point of the coffee’s journey from roasting to delivery is as eco-friendly as possible.
For instance, organic beauty brand Cocokind implemented QR codes when they began using sustainable packaging materials. By scanning the code, customers can learn more about how a product is formulated, as well as sustainability facts about their packaging.
QR codes on coffee packaging can take consumers to additional information about a coffee’s environmental impact during the processes of sourcing, roasting, and brewing.
Additionally, it can tell them what the packaging is made of, and how each aspect can be recycled correctly.
What to know before adding QR codes to coffee packaging
A common drawback to printing QR codes on packaging is the assumption that it can only be done during large print runs, which makes them less suited to small roasters.
Another issue is that any mistakes made cannot be corrected easily, and will cost the roaster more. Furthermore, it would not be cost effective to promote a seasonal coffee, or a time-limited messaging, as roasters would have to pay for an entirely new print run.
However, this is typically an issue with traditional packaging printers. A solution to these problems would be to use digital printing to add QR codes to coffee bags.
Digital printing allows roasters to request low minimum order quantities with a quick turnaround time. More so, it can help roasters update their codes to reflect any changes to their business without having to invest more time or money.
QR codes have changed the way information about the coffee industry is shared. Rather than inputting full web addresses or including the story on the side of coffee bags, roasters can now insert these simple barcodes to give access to a whole world of information.
At MTPak Coffee, we are able to digitally print QR codes onto sustainable coffee packaging, with a 40-hour turnaround and 24-hour shipping time. QR codes can contain as much information as a roaster desires.
Our range of sustainable packaging options is made from eco-friendly materials, such as kraft or rice paper with a LDPE or PLA lining, and we are able to offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) of packaging, no matter what size or material.