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FLEXO Magazine : September 2010
Industry Indicators Image Improvement report: Flexography advantages continue to spur Growth against Biases Early in its life, flexographic printing has had a bad rap for low-quality output. Enlightened folks in the industry, however, always understood that flexographic printing and converting can often be performed entirely in-line, on a wide range of materials and substrates, and that the process is forever improving. These factors equate to a cost-effective process that produces minimal waste. And, in fact, many would be surprised to learn that flexo is the fastest growing global analog print method. Since packaging is a key growth engine for the graphic communications industry, and flexography is a dominant process for many packaging applications, PRIMIR recently commissioned LPC Inc. to conduct research on the topic. The resulting outcome is a new 266 page report, “Benchmark- ing and Worldwide Market Trends for Flexographic Print- ing,” which was released in May 2010. The study provides a comprehensive assessment of the global flexographic industry, while answering how this analog print process fits into a world that is increasingly going digital and which world regions are likely to provide opportunities for future growth. The report investigates flexo in packaging, as well as non- packaging applications. Power In PackagIng According to the new PRIMIR study, packaging comprises nearly 92 percent of the global flexographic volume; the remaining volume is in non-package printing applications, such as security printing, pharmaceutical products and com- mercially printed electronics. In the next several years, flexo will enjoy a 4 to 5 percent growth rate—largely coming from growth in the developing regions, more specifically the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). LPC reports in the study that flexography accounts for near- ly 60 percent, or just more than $260 billion, of the $440 billion printed packaging market. In 2009, flexo’s market share for packaging applications included: $125 billion for corrugated, $81 billion for flexible packaging, $56 billion for labels and tags, and $1.2 billion for folding carton. Not surprisingly, North America and Western Europe fea- tured the most flexo press installations. However, global growth opportunities lie in the emerging markets where flexo is not currently the dominant process. As urbanization occurs and in- comes rise in these countries, consumers will increasingly pur- chase packaged foods at retail stores versus fresh foods from local outdoor markets. This trend will increase the demand for packaging, and in many cases, flexography. The adoption of flexo in these markets depends on numerous variables such as: training, consumable costs, and changing perceptions about the flexo process—mainly quality concerns. 12 FLEXO septemBer 2010 www.flexography.org • Packaging comprises nearly 92 percent of the global flexographic volume. • Flexography accounts for nearly 60 percent of the $440 billion printed packaging market. • CPC Perception: Print quality issues, longer lead times, plates are too costly, and concern with authen- tication of packaging. • Fflexo quality is highest in the tag and label market- place, where the narrow to mid web presses produce six- to 10-color, 175lpi applications with sophisticated graphics. source: primir “Benchmarking and Worldwide market trends for Flexographic printing” by Lpc inc. 2010 FLX_Sept2010_mech.indd 12 8/31/10 5:40 PM