Personalized cakes have long been an important part of any instore bakery’s business. When the technology evolved enough to allow for photos to be printed onto cakes, personalization hit a whole new level.

Now, more than 20 years later, the options are seemingly limitless.

“The science behind this product is ever evolving to meet the changing needs of the market,” says Shawna LeMott, marketing manager for Lucks Food Decoration Company, which supplies companies with the products and solutions needed to produce print-on-demand cakes.

One of those companies is DecoPac, whose PhotoCake was first introduced in 1998.

“Over the years we have improved the technology,” says Amanda Griffith, product marketing manager for DecoPac. “We update the system twice a year and introduce new images, and also new features within the system.”

Recent additions include photo collages, DecoSet backgrounds, image strips, photo frames and updated fonts. “We are constantly exploring new technologies and new printers to ensure our customers have the best user experience,” Griffith says.

Lucks, according to LeMott, has recently rolled out improvements in color retention and image enhancement. “We’ve seen technology advance, making equipment more robust and user friendly,” she says. “We developed a variety of edible substrates to choose from depending on the topping and decorated dessert, which yields better results. Whether you’re decorating ice cream cakes or cupcakes, we have the right print on demand solution.”

Expanding usage

LeMott points out that the technological advances have made print on demand more mainstream. It’s now being used for special events beyond the typical birthday and graduation cake. Weddings, holidays and more are now popular events for the associated products.

“We also see trends with birthday, anniversary and key movie and sporting events,” says Griffith.  That said, she also points out that graduations still tend to be the top season for DecoPac’s PhotoCakes.

PhotoCakes is a complete print on demand cake decorating solution that includes software, print and an expansive image library. Bakeries can easily print licensed and non-licensed images as well as consumers’ photos onto edible paper with edible ink.

And outside of cakes, LeMott says the surface is only being scratched when it comes to print on demand technology.

“There are certainly opportunities to expand beyond bakery and customize other food items,” she says. “Whether it’s a deli platter with a dip, a burger bun or a cheese pizza, there’s a use for edible decorations.”

DecoPac’s line of DecoSet backgrounds are a new option being utilized by retailers, Griffith says. The enhanced backgrounds are designed to coordinate with DecoSets, a line of cake decorations that range from Batman, Paw Patrol and Mickey Mouse to coconut cabana beach scenes. The backgrounds feature enhanced artwork that is perfect for the cake case, special order or last-minute customer order.

“The DecoSet backgrounds also offer bakeries the ability to execute amazing cakes, no matter the skill of their staff,” Griffith says.

DecoPac has the largest portfolio of licensed and non-licensed images to use for any occasion, which includes an entire collection of Lucks designs.

“Access to this library makes it easy to create unique personalized cakes,” LeMott says. “Virtual decorations are never out of stock and their library is always updated with new, trendy seasonal designs.”

Taste test

As important as the decorations, personalized photos and backgrounds are, the cakes still need to taste good. That makes the edible papers used in the process that much more important.  

Lucks’ line of Edible Image designs stresses this importance with edible paper that melds to icing, providing a clean cut with each bite. Lucks also says it proudly provides the thinnest media for on demand printing in the industry,

“However, we also provide very thick substrate for printing as well,” LaMott says. “It’s important that we offer the best options for all needs of the customer. We are always researching and testing new ways to meet changing needs.”

DecoPac’s line of edible sheets — produced by Lucks — are designed to “ensure beautifully delicious results every time,” according to Griffith. The PhotoCake premium edible sheets offer quality overall performance, with paper formulated to resist high-humidity and designed to perform on both buttercream and whipped icing. Frosting sheets are the company’s most popular edible paper, developed from a blend of fondant and sugar.

Lucsk’ Print-Ons are the company’s most versatile product, LeMott says. “Print-Ons paper offers the widest range of usability,” she says. “Even so, we offer specific sheets for specific applications. It’s very important to use the proper substrate for the decorating process and materials.”

Lucks also boasts the resistance of its edible paper to fading and bleeding, although how that achievement came to be is a trade secret.

“We have developed a deep understanding of how food color interacts with our edible paper, different dessert toppings and even other types of food color,” LeMott says. “it’s been a passion of ours for years. Our paper is advanced in that it holds true color longer than other paper on the market.”

Room to grow

While print on demand solutions are a big hit for bakeries, it could soon see success elsewhere as well.

LeMott says the technology has merchandising ability in the photo department for home bakers and pastry chefs.

“The next logical space for print on demand would be foodservice, specialty restaurants, caterers, theme parks and maybe even the home enthusiast,” she says. “Sending messages on food is a big trend, especially desserts. The ability to order and send personalized messages on food, without leaving home, is a sure possibility. It’s an edible world out there and we want to decorate it.”