Every food product or package of anything you buy usually has a label on it, but these labels can be applied in a large variety of ways. The three main types of labeling are top, bottom and side labeling.
First of all, side labeling involves both the sides of the box and the front and back. It is most often used in case and box labeling because having side labels makes products easy to identify and scan after the boxes are palletized. Side labels often have barcodes for this very reason.
Side labeling is most commonly done with the use of some sort of tamping arm. On the side, a tamping piston can push the label directly onto the side of the box in a proper location. On the front/back, a tamping arm is used to quickly swing out and slap the label onto the box.
Top and bottom labeling are used more often for retail packaging. Top labels are often used for brand recognition and costs.
Bottom labels often reflect safe handling and nutritional information for foods.
Top labeling is done through a variety of applicators. Top labeling can tamp like the side labeling, wipe the label on directly, or jet the label onto the top with a blast of pressurized air.
There are even applicators that use a combination, like a piston that moves downward as if to tamp but instead uses air to apply when it gets close to the package.
Tamp labeling and wipe-on labeling are used in most cases, but for products that have an uneven package surface, air works better.
Finally, bottom labeling is done primarily with wipe-on labeling. As a package goes by, a label sticks upward to contact it. When the label grabs onto the package surface, it passes by a wiper that smooths it flat onto the surface.
With automated labeling systems, you can label just about anything with the right application!