The world of labelling is unquestionably one of the most dynamic and innovative industry sectors today. Thomas Hagmaier, current President of FINAT and CEO of Hagmaier Etiketten, offers an informed summary of current status of 2016: “Delivering a fine piece of label design and print that sells the product on the retail shelf is still essential, but today our industry is challenged to provide so much more, for the brand owner and the consumer. To meet an ever-growing raft of brand owner demands, the label supply chain has to meet challenges posed not only by industry innovation, but also by new packaging and labelling choices, online retailing, incredible refinements in imaging technologies, the need for sustainable solutions and, of course, international regulations.”
As the knowledge hub for its member companies - who represent the entire label supply chain - FINAT is well-positioned to provide a unique, expert evaluation of what 2016 will bring for the label market and for self-adhesive labelling in particular. It is a complex picture, and FINAT defines some of the major areas where change, development and innovation are evident.
The changing world of label print
The coming together of digital and analogue print technologies for label and packaging print will continue apace in 2016. Enhancements like UV/EB curing, will make it possible for the label printer to embrace both short and long print runs and a wider portfolio of label formats, from self-adhesive and wet glue labels to wraparound, in-mould, shrink- and stretch-sleeve labels, and even flexible packaging. Traditional roll-to-roll print technologies are also evolving to accommodate a choice of label types in addition to self-adhesive labels.
Increasing numbers of label printers will offer brand owners this extended label supply service, delivering the opportunity for brand owners’ packaging managers to fine-tune their supplier base. Digital pre-press for high-definition print, and even more sophisticated colour management systems to deliver image consistency across the print processes, are currently a high-level focus.
Label print is also reflecting the increasingly important role of digital technology in everyday life. The addition of QR codes and other devices, printed electronics and personalisation as part of label print is expected to grow in 2016.
The complexity of the self-adhesive label substrate’s construction led to the establishment of FINAT’s highly-proactive Recycling Committee, and the provision of in-depth information on all aspects of label and label waste recycling. Label release liner, a high-value, recyclable product, now benefits from a number of appropriate locations for recycling. In 2016 FINAT is committed to place a strong emphasis on encouraging brand owners and label printers – the two closest industry links in the supply chain – to make more meaningful use of these facilities in the interests of sustainability. Labelling film and paper suppliers will contribute too in this arena, with continuing innovation in lower-caliper substrates and enhanced recyclability features.
FINAT research indicates that overall label volumes will increase again in 2016 over prior year. Internet sales are increasing, but a product’s primary label still represents the prime medium for establishing branding and the first contact with a potential customer. In a recent end-user survey, FINAT learned that over 80% of brand owners/packaging buyers do not believe the e-commerce platform will affect label design. The label product ‘mix’ will, however, increasingly reflect a move to shorter label print runs and just-in-time delivery as, in the international consumer market, product packaging (bearing local-language labels) relocates to regional centres.
International health and safety legislation will continue to make demands on the available space on a label, particularly on food labels. The finite limits of the label space will challenge design and print. This will encourage the use of such options as multi-layer leaflet labels, linerless labels and clear film labels on clear container substrates (the ‘no-label’ look) where back print on the label is possible.
A profitable outcome
“The label industry supply chain is extended, representing several different specialties in both equipment and substrates. That is why FINAT’s role in providing a leading-edge knowledge base and maintaining reliable market data is so important, particularly in today’s fast-changing environment”, says Jules Lejeune, FINAT Managing Director. “Our members believe 2016 will bring more profitable business for them as suppliers of label print, print equipment and label substrates, as they continue to innovate with even more sophisticated solutions to meet the demands of brand owners and consumers around the globe.”