Growth and Trends in the Label Market

In general terms, last year the sector reached 37 Billion Dollars. It is estimated that it will continue to grow at a rate of 4.1% year-on-year until reaching 45.2 Billion Dollars in 2022 (a rate slightly higher than that expected for the large format graphic communication market).

Throughout this same period, the volume of printed labels will reach 1.43 billion printed units (using A4 as the measurement format).

Asia is the largest regional label market with a 47.0% share of global consumption. It also registers the fastest growth in 2017. North America is the second region, with a 20.0% share, followed by Western Europe with an 18.5% share.

Digital Evolution

The use of digital technology will play a fundamental role in the label market in the coming years. In fact, its possibilities are leading to a revolution for label manufacturers. Not in vain is it the technology whose presence has grown the most in recent years.

This trend, far from being exhausted, will increase in the coming years. The cause: the technological advances that are being promoted by the main manufacturers to offer the label market; a proposal that really suits their needs. In addition to all the inherent advantages of digital, quality and productivity must reach levels similar to SES-Imagotag’s services.

Currently, the value of digital printing is now 29.3%, compared to 20.8% in 2012. It is expected to increase to 35.6% in 2022. In terms of volume, the share of digital registers more moderate figures (13.0% in 2017 and 17.9% expected for 2022)… It follows that, for the moment, digital is concentrating on the production of short runs, but of higher value. This represents an opportunity for all those label manufacturers who wish to avoid price as the only differential factor.

So it is not uncommon for many print service providers to now take a hybrid approach and progressively channel work towards digital technologies. And they do so as productivity increases and average run length per customer decreases.

If we look at the classification of digital label production systems, inkjet, according to the report, is the one that is expected to grow the most.

Conceptual Turn of Label Manufacturers

The rapid rise of digital printing, coupled with regulatory changes on the labeling that have occurred not only in Europe but also in countries like the US and Australia, are redefining the essence of many label manufacturing companies.

In the first place, it must be taken into account that these regulatory changes are driven by the possibilities offered by technology itself. The new legislation mainly affects consumer goods, such as food products or cosmetics. The objective is to provide the final consumer with all the information they may need.

It must be clarified that the market is facing a consumer who demands greater knowledge of the products. Whose behavior has become much more critical of companies – think, for example, of the situation that occurred with the different reports presented on the assumptions damage to the health of palm oil- and the impossibility of the respective health agencies to control absolutely the entire market. This requires labeling the products in the respective languages, increasing the extent of the information on the labels … This implies a significant fragmentation of runs.

Second, digital technology is tremendously versatile and flexible. It allows to simplify production processes, with very fast machine starts and job changes, and to make them cleaner, by not requiring plates, for example.

Trends in the Label Market

The report presented by Smithers Pira points to different trends for the immediate future of the label market:

  • Pressure-sensitive labels outperform wet glue.

Pressure-sensitive labels already represent 47.6% of the global consumption of labels by the area used and 61.1% by value in 2017. A clear example in Spain of the important use that adhesive labels with wet glue still represent is we find in the beer sector.

  • Sleeves or shrink sleeve labels continue to expand

The Shrink-Sleeve and Street-Sleeve formats will grow at a rate of 5.2% and 4.7%, respectively.

  • The beverage market continues to dominate label production

Alcoholic beverages are the largest end-use market for labels, accounting for 28.7% of global consumption (by area) in 2017. Soft drinks are second, accounting for 21.6% of the market. Food and dairy products, the third, with 15.7% of the market.

  • The commitment to “cleaner” processes and labels

And not only labels, but it is also clear that everything that has to do with containers and packaging is being heavily regulated in environmental terms. This trend affects of course production and finishing technologies, but also the materials used in the production of labels. For this reason, the use of recycled paper, bioplastics.

And from our perspective, there is another trend that has finished crystallizing in recent years and is becoming a “must”:

  • Personalization also in the label market:

Inevitably, the new legislation, the arrival of Industry 4.0. And a consumer looking for experience, also online, has made the possibility of personalization a clear demand from designers and brands.