The Sweet People invests in SurePress digital label press

The Sweet People has invested in an Epson SurePress label press

The Sweet People invests in SurePress digital label press

Promotional confectionery supplier The Sweet People (formerly Liquid Lens) has invested in an Epson SurePress L-4033AW digital label press for its short-run, personalised label and packaging production. The SurePress has enabled the company to cut output time and also reduce production costs considerably.

The Sweet People enjoys sweet taste of success

Founded in 1998, the company is an award-winning, UK leader in branded confectionery production for promotional campaigns, events and product launches. The Sweet People currently employs around 50 staff at its Leighton Buzzard site, servicing a network of around 600 UK distributors supplying blue chip and major retail brands.

The business started by producing domed labels. These adhesive polyurethane labels have a domed lens effect (hence the original company name) and can be used to personalise practically anything. The company also supplied a low-cost, turn-key desktop system enabling its clients to produce their own domed labels, primarily into the awards and trophy industry, allowing them to personalise small quantities of cups, medals, etc. on-demand and on-site. These systems are now supplied worldwide by sister company Liquid Lens Systems and complement the label production side of the business perfectly.

In addition to labels and labelling systems, Liquid Lens originally created a range of small promotional products to supply to its trade customers such as pens, keyrings and coasters that can be personalised with the domed labels in-house. As the business expanded its range of brandable items, confectionery-based products were introduced.  Mandy Hastie, Director, The Sweet People, says: “One of the very first confectionery products we introduced were jelly beans. We matched the colour of the beans to the client’s logo which were then packaged in a retro sweet pot. It was and remains a very popular item for us.”

All design, assembly, printing, finishing, packing and distribution takes place in-house at the The Sweet People site.  Producing superior-quality products while keeping costs low, is of particular importance to the business and its customers. Mandy says: “We researched high-quality products that we would be able to supply to our trade customers for about £1 each and they happened to be confectionery-based, so we decided to expand the range considerably. At the same time we looked at more creative packaging – not just domed labels but different shapes and sizes of labels and printed wrapping for example.”

The SurePress investment

The creation of new products and the move into packaging required more sophisticated print technology, evolving over time until the need for faster, more cost-effective production led to the company investing in an Epson SurePress L-4033AW digital label press. The press runs alongside an offline die-cutting machine that die-cuts, varnishes, strips and slices the labels.

Since installing the seven-colour SurePress L-4033AW digital label press with white ink, The Sweet People has found high-quality, short-run label printing very easy and efficient. It delivers exceptional print quality and accurate colour reproduction on a wide variety of standard label substrates, without the need for pre-treatments or coatings. The press uses SurePress AQ inks which are low migration for PET, PP and PE and meet food regulation standards – an important component for a company producing confectionery labels and packaging.

The Sweet People can produce up to 200,000 labels per week at peak times, 50% of which goes through the SurePress. Previously, the company quoted a lead time of two weeks to its customers but this is now reduced to under a week.

Quality is key. Whether it’s a run of 250 or 10,000 labels, The Sweet People offers a completely bespoke and highly personalised service for each client. The company also works on themed events, printing everything from the invitation to giveaway items, goody bags, pillow gifts and much more.

Mandy says: “As we have complete control over production, we can create promotional items to suit the budget, from the largest blue chip company to the smallest client.  There are no limits on orders and we handle large volume runs with the same care and attention as we do small campaigns. Brands demand consistency when it comes to colour and quality which is something we take very seriously and is reflected in the amount of repeat business we secure. One product we have supplied to the same customer for over 10 years is on repeat order every three to four months.”

Brightly-coloured sweets and creative ideas

From confectionary such as branded jelly beans, retro sweets, mints and chocolate beanies, to key chains, domed labels, coasters, cufflinks and badges, every promotional product is designed and packaged by The Sweet People. The most popular confectionery line continues to be jelly beans in pots and pouches. With a typical order size being 250 pieces, the company is producing around 1 million per year for product launches, exhibitions and sales conferences. For example, it has recently produced packs of cookies and jelly beans as giveaways during the train strikes and pots of jelly beans to promote a car launch – matching the colour of the jelly beans to the new car interior.

Christmas is a peak time for the company with a rapidly-expanding range of products, from Christmas tree-shaped tins of biscuits to bags of chocolate sprouts.  Mandy says: “We are constantly looking at new product ideas and take a lot of influence from the luxury retail sector. For instance, the Christmas tree-shaped tin was designed around something I saw in a high street store. We modified the design to fit our production and customer requirements and it is a really popular line for us.”

The Sweet People are very happy with the performance of the Epson SurePress and Mandy is confident that in time more projects will be produced on it: “The SurePress is wonderful and has been an excellent investment for the business. It’s introduced a whole new way of working for us and I can see that we are going to be able to utilise it for a number of new products in the future.”

Domed labels – how it works

A very common question is what are domed labels and how do you make them?

Domed labels are self-adhesive labels that can be applied to products at the end of the production cycle. They are coated with clear, flexible polyurethane which makes the label chemical resistant and durable. The clear, glossy bubble of plastic is very eye-catching and can be used for full colour images and logos and special effects such as metallic, holographic, fluorescent and reflective substrates and inks.

Doming is a simple process of pouring an exact volume of liquid polyurethane resin onto a label. The surface tension caused by the label’s surface edge creates the domed bubble, which is then cured to produce the final label:

  • high-quality digital artwork is either supplied or designed
  • design is printed on to required label substrate
  • labels are cut with the excess material removed to leave the labels sitting on the backing sheet ready for doming
  • the labels are laid into trays and a liquid polyurethane resin is applied
  • the labels are left to cure – this can take a few days but the labels can be handled after approx. 24 hours or quicker if an oven is used
  • visit for more information in doming