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FLEXO Magazine : September 2012
tions on label shape have held this format back, but develop- ments continue and this is an area to watch. On-press trends include an ever-broader toolcase of special finishes for labels, such as photochromic and high-gloss metal- lic inks; time-temperature indicators; holograms; and tactile varnishes. Designed to enhance the consumer 's experience of a product's packaging and create shelf "stand-out," they part- ner highly-engineered permanent and removable adhesives to deliver the perfect performance for the brand owner 's needs. Label content is becoming increasingly an issue as the requirements of brand owner and retailer are transcended by the requirements of legislation on information and food safety, security and logistics input, and customer-accessible additional information via QR codes and similar devices. As a result of this broader agenda for label content, label size has increased; and leaflet label usage has grown con- siderably, particularly for pharmaceuticals, where in the face of growing instances of counterfeiting, the addition of Braille content, and overt and covert security and track-and-trace devices is extensive. In this context, there are real opportunities for label printers to engage with commercial packaging companies--in cartons, for example--to add value in terms of enhanced customer experience and engagement with a particular brand. Self-adhesive labels can certainly enable mainstream sec- tors of the packaging industry to benefit from current brand identification strategies, without the need to change their core technology base. Even in the 21st century, self-adhesive labels are adding value to products and brands in new and developing ways, around the world, in partnership with an ever-changing base of packaging materials. Label converters benefit---almost uniquely in a manufacturing environment---from being part of a harmonized but complex value chain that embraces raw materials suppliers, self-adhesive laminators, ink, die, and other press consumables suppliers. DEMAND & DEMOGRAPHICS Global label demand (across all technologies) is expected to reach over 50 billion square meters by 2015. World label demand growth for 2012/2013 will be approximately 6 per- cent-7 percent. Prime volume markets are foods, beverages, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals. The world's emerging economies---particularly Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC countries)---are driving that growth. Self-adhesive labels, together with glue-applied labels, still represent nearly four fifths (80 percent) of the total label market, but face competition today from sleeving and in-mold labels---both of which are exhibiting positive growth, particularly in the food and beverage markets. • In Europe, the dynamic development in recent years in the eastern countries has slowed somewhat, but remains a key factor in the region's positive growth • North American self-adhesive label demand growth has been driven primarily by specialty applications • Asia Pacific takes the largest global share of the overall label market today, and here self-adhesive labels demon- strate healthy growth, with new label laminating compa- nies, as well as converters, proliferating • The newest label market, Africa and the Middle East, combines both mature and unstable economies, but is evidencing healthy overall growth for self-adhesive labels ECONOMIC REALITIES Prices for platinum---the initiator for silicone release coat- ings---remain extremely high, and crude oil prices, fluctuating in response to world political issues, continue to be of high concern, particularly in relation to plastic films. While paper labels and release liners continue to dominate self- adhesive label use, film facestocks and release liners are gaining market share. Environmental concerns and the quest for sustain- ability are encouraging the use of "downgauged'' self-adhesive labelstocks, in order to reduce material usage, save cost, cut inventory storage space and trim transportation expenses. In papers, manufacturers have more limited opportuni- ties to downgauge, but are concentrating on specialties, like wash-off labelstocks for bottles, security papers embedded with forensic and other taggants, and wine label laminates offering "ice bucket" performance. The proven recyclability of glassine release liner is now beginning to encourage the continuing use of paper labelstocks. The continuing popularity of the "no label look," created using clear film label facestocks, is not the only driver for film usage in self-adhesive labels today. The combination of film facestock and film liner enables serious downgauging of label laminate, to deliver more labels per reel, fewer roll changes on press and on the labelling line, and therefore significant time and cost savings. Self-adhesive label converters today are embracing the con- cept of "one-stop shopping" and offering their customers both the self-adhesive path and the non-adhesive technologies which can be profitably and ably printed on narrow-web presses. STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS As a relatively young industry in the context of printing, and a downstream user of a variety of raw materials, there are many things label converters can learn from old-established industries like paper and board, and from new packaging formats like flexible packaging. Their successes can be analyzed, and could indeed be replicated in part in label converting businesses. Self-adhesive labels have proved themselves perfect, innova- tive partners and continue to represent a dynamic and creative sector of the packaging chain, offering unparalleled flexibility and versatility. They are the product of a value chain that is deep- ly committed to sustainability, lean manufacturing, and above all, meeting the buyers' needs in terms of aesthetics, applied performance, and price. About the Author: Jules Lejeune is managing director, FINAT. FINAT, founded in Paris in 1958, with headquarters in The Hague (The Netherlands), is a worldwide association for manufacturers of self-adhesive labels and related products and services. It boasts of 600 members in more than 50 countries. Jules Lejeune, managing director, FINAT. 26 FLEXO SEPTEMBER 2012 www.flexography.org