The European label manufacturers association, FINAT, has released details of its latest research that suggest demand is growing for more sophisticated labels.
According to FINAT, paper-based materials continue to dominate the demand amongst label converters but there has been a shift from basic primary and VIP labels towards more sophisticated, high-end applications. The survey revealed that the demand for PP-based materials has grown by 78 percent since 2010, with the use of direct thermal papers over the same period up by 51 percent and an increase in white coated papers by 24 percent.
Jules Lejeune, managing director of FINAT, commented: “The continued growth in demand for packaged consumer goods, especially in emerging economies, has increased the need for white, coated materials as end-users are looking to differentiate their branded products on the shelf. Labels containing variable product data in sectors like retail, logistics, process automation and inventory management demand an ever-growing volume of direct thermal papers. But above all, the need for high quality (transparent) product decoration in high speed, high volumes sectors like food, health and beauty care and premium beverages is driving the surge in the consumption of PP-based labels.”
FINAT suggests that this trend to more sophisticated films is behind another trend for label producers to offer packaging solutions like pouches, sleeves and other flexible packaging items though I think that it’s just as likely that it’s the other way around – that the use of more sophisticated labels follows the trend amongst label converters to expand into packaging. After all, this also depends heavily on converters having invested in wider label presses, typically 430mm and above, that are capable of taking flexible films – meaning those fitted with servo drives and with some degree of automated register settings. Most people making that sort of investment are going to look at expanding their likely applications such as moving into some form of packaging.
The research also finds that the highest growth rates were recorded in non-prime markets like automotive, consumer durables and industrial chemicals while the largest labelling sectors of food and beverages continue to be among the top five growth markets. FINAT concludes that the two dominant trends are that prime labels are becoming increasingly complex while non-prime labels are becoming increasingly functional.
FINAT, or at least its statistical agency Panteia, claims that there is “clear statistical correlation between roll labelstock demand and the general economic climate, pointing out that labels are widely used throughout most sectors of the business community. Not surprisingly, the research sees growth in labelling in several eastern European markets though the big five – Germany, UK, Italy, France and Spain – still dominate.
Lejeune warns: “Given the present uncertainties associated with Brexit, escalating trade wars between the EU and the US, continued trade sanctions against Russia and, finally, re-emerging concerns about the euro following the installation of the new Italian government, it should come as no surprise that the gap between annualised growth rates in the label industry and GDP has been shrinking in recent quarters after five years of continued well above GPP growth rates.”