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Fresh soups and new beginnings

Naomie Smith, general manager, with members of the enVie team

Brussels-based social enterprise enVie fights back against food waste by making delicious soups from fresh surplus vegetables supplied by Belgian farmers. 

Founded in 2018, enVie saved 50 tonnes of vegetables from becoming food waste in its first year. After two years, its goal is to save 100 tonnes of vegetables. enVie’s soups are produced by a passionate team of people re-entering the workforce after long-term unemployment. 

A young start-up, enVie is refining its workflows and identifying areas for operational efficiencies. One area that needed refining in terms of waste and cost savings was label printing. Each bottle of fresh soup requires an eye-catching label to communicate its quality and health benefits. enVie’s existing process entailed ordering pre-printed labels from a local print shop and adding variable information, such as expiry date and batch number, using a thermal printer.

With quality an issue, and enVie struggling to manage the stock of printed labels which were supplied in many different layouts, the result was wasted funds in the form of unused labels in the stock room as well as disposing of printed labels that were no longer required. 

In reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, enVie, alongside various other organizations, launched the ‘Robin Food’ project to transform food surpluses into healthy foods that are made accessible to vulnerable people and families during the crisis. This created a greater and more urgent demand for labels. 

Flexibility and quality
OKI’s label converter partner Tasco invited the enVie team to its showroom for a demo of OKI’s Pro1050 label printer. ‘After seeing the demo we were convinced that a color label printer like OKI’s Pro1050 could help us find the flexibility and quality we needed for our labels,’ says Naomie Smith, general manager, enVie. ‘Tasco was able to deliver OKI’s Pro1050 to our production facility, prepare it to produce 20,000 labels, and train our operators to use it – all in just a couple of days.’

OKI’s Pro1050 is designed to handle bespoke in-house label printing on demand. Using digital LED and dry toner technology it brings a new color dimension to label printing, providing a fifth color or ‘CMYK+1’ option. The printer would enable enVie to perform short-run label printing on-demand from a single label to thousands a day. This enabled the correct volume of labels to be printed for each batch of soup, reducing the need to store or dispose of surplus labels. The minimal training required is an additional advantage: print jobs can be set up in minutes as each new team member is recruited following a period of long-term unemployment. 

‘From the first day OKI’s Pro1050 was installed, we started printing our color labels. Our project started with 20,000 liters of soup and with the support of the public we collected funds to produce 70,000 liters. With our new printer we have complete flexibility to print colorful labels for both Robin Food and for our enVie soups,’ says Smith. 

enVie can now print its labels from scratch without having to order specific quantities from the local print shop that would eat up funds. enVie’s members can simply select the relevant print file using NiceLabel software and print as many labels as they need.

Variable information, including expiry date and batch number, is generated automatically by the software and included on the printed label. This makes the process of applying labels quicker as the additional thermal printer is no longer needed.

Whether enVie’s soups are moving through its production facility, being transported or stocked by retailers, or used by consumers, the labels need to be robust. OKI’s Pro1050 can produce labels that are resistant to water and UV fading, protecting the branding and important information such as use-by dates and ingredients.

The addition of OKI’s Pro1050 has also enabled enVie to experiment with different label designs and layouts. ‘As you start from a blank label and a minimum volume of one, any idea or request on design is possible, and in a very short time,’ says Smith. ‘As the printer can print 9 meters a minute, we can get the labels out very fast. Especially on the Covid-19 project, we saved a lot of time having the design ready and being able to start printing immediately. Normally we would have to send the design to the print shop, wait for the proof and wait again for the delivery of the printed labels.’

OKI’s Pro1050 has been instrumental in helping enVie make a social impact with the ‘Robin Food’ project, which has achieved coverage in both local and national press. ‘A couple of days ago, the King of Belgium skyped with us and our co-workers to get to know our project and to support us,’ says Smith. 

Guy Boxall, business development manager for narrow format printing at OKI Europe, said: ‘The work that enVie does to help people in need is truly fantastic. We are delighted that OKI’s Pro1050 label printer has helped enVie and the Robin Food project deliver a real social impact during these challenging times.’