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21-12-16 - Jules Lejeune

Labels & Labeling – Predictions 2017

The world of ‘the label’ is growing in every way, and in every direction. Today a label encompasses not only product identification data, but also an increasing tranche of regulatory information and delivers brand identity in ways we could not have imagined ten years ago – through personalisation, tactile and colour-changing features, and devices such as QR codes. Increasing sophistication in product authentication and security devices are an important additional feature; and sleeve labels, flexible packaging, in-mould labels and direct-to-container print will increasingly feature in label converters’ 2017 offer to brand owners. These are all areas where FINAT is committed to keeping its members informed on this broadening technical agenda; on representing their interests on legal and regulatory issues; and on continuing its established and respected technical research programme – which will next year include new editions of test methods and the RADAR.

The increasing complexity of the ‘label’ has been largely enabled by the developments in the converting technologies employed by our FINAT members. Our FINAT RADAR market research across Europe indicates that, in the coming years, we expect to see ongoing refinements in digital capabilities and in hybrid analogue/digital presses, partnered by advanced ink formulations that deliver specific high-performance features – for example, for food-safe print without migration or setoff – and a range of print substrates to match. LED ink curing is set to grow substantially next year.

Digital print has made product multi-versioning and label multi-language versioning easy and quick. FINAT members confirm that print runs are now around just 1500 linear metres per label; and the downward trend is forecast to continue.

While brand owners will continue to demand higher quality at lower prices from their packaging suppliers, sustainability will be a headline topic in the agenda of the entire supply chain. Waste management will be the prime concern of FINAT and its sister associations around the world in 2017. Spent release liner – a high-value, high-quality feature of the pressure-sensitive laminate – will be a particular focus for recycling efforts, and in FINAT we are encouraging increasing formalisation in the relationship between label converters, co-packers, and brand owners to establish a formal release liner collection and recycling system.

In the face of all the technological developments, the globalisation of end-user brand markets, and the capabilities of online business, we also expect a continuation of the M&A activity that has seen local and regional label converting companies join together to form multinational suppliers.