Sales of conventional label presses will top those for digital presses this year, according to self adhesive labels industry association group Finat.
Its managing director Jules Lejeune told delegates at the association’s annual conference in Copenhagen that according to a survey of members, planned investments of analogue presses will outnumber those of digital presses for 2019 and 2020. This might be a case of replacing older, less efficient machinery, because converters are well equipped with up to date digital machines or because the efficiency of a modern flexo press has lowered the inflexion point between digital and flexo printing.
He also provided data to show that in 2018 non paper rolls now accounted for 27% of total demand in Europe and sheet label consumption had slipped a further 2%. There had been growth across the sector where France, UK, Germany, Italy and Spain account for 60% of the market. Only two countries in 2018 reported any level of decline, the UK and Turkey.
The environmental question is being taken very seriously with around a fifth recycling all spent release liner, 11% currently recycling some of the waste material and 33% engaged in creating a recycling system. The prospects for labels continue to be promising said Lejeune.
This was the message from speaker after speaker during the two-day event. It was leavened with the need to keep abreast of change. Corey Reardon, president and CEO of Alexander Watson Associates, provided further analysis of market trends. While self adhesive labels continue to grow, by 5% in 2018, sheet labelling grew faster and now accounts of 19% of the market. Inmould labelling is also growing fast and wet labels still account for 35% of total volume.
It was not all good news: the release liner and matrix waste in pressure sensitive and similar problems with shrink films for sleeves add up to a sustainability issue that needs to be tackled. This was one of the problems that Scandinavian converters have to address said Lars Ole Nauta, CEO of Flexoprint and vice president of the Danish Label Association. He also named lead times, industry consolidation and the need to appeal to younger entrants to the sector.
This had been one of the themes highlighted by Chris Ellison, OPM Labels & Packaging in Leeds, who opened the conference. He identified the need to reach out to and engage the next generation of business leaders, engineers and designers and pointed to initiatives by Finat to tackle these issues.
Some of the appeal may come through being able to develop the roles that labels play, there is the regulatory role, the need to carry the brand and then changes wrought by evolving shopping habits: from in store to online and perhaps back again. In Asia online giant Alibaba is opening real stores and Amazon has plans to open 3,000 cashless shops in the next few years.
Wijnand Jongen, founder of Dutch e-commerce association Thuiswinkel.org, described the way the online/offline mix was changing with a video showing how Alexa can cut online activities to bring families together for mealtimes. This mix also meant changing requirements of labelling, from indicating freshness to personalisation and more.
This evolution demands more from converters: to become marketing experts and sales consultants for their customers; to supply chain managers and designers able to meet the needs for sustainability and corporate social responsibility and the need for consumer behaviour to change towards recycling as much as brands to switch away from plastics.
By Gareth Ward
The self adhesive labels sector continues to grow, but within this there are many currents with shifts to shrink, growing pressure on sustainability, the need to appeal to a younger generation, but Final members are confident of adapting.