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FLEXO Magazine : September 2013
bottled waters in the beverage sector to fruit juices and functional drinks, as well as into the food labeling market • In Mexico, particularly when it comes to beer bottles, glue-applied labels are benefiting from a move away from direct print on glass • Label print technologies are shifting in the direction of maturing digital print technologies, which are gain- ing market share—particularly for multi-version labels printed on a generic template for application to a stan- dardized container. This is noticeable in the health care and beauty markets MARKET SHARE Just shy of half—49 percent, or 10.7 million square meters (115 million sq. ft.)—of North America’s demand for labels goes to the pressure-sensitive variety, a clear indication of its shaping, multi-process imaging and speedy, accurate au- tomatic dispensing capabilities (See Figure 2). The growing importance of “shelf stand-out” helps drive this demand. Another force behind the commanding lead has been the variable information print label market’s reliance on pressure-sensitive labels—for example, track-and-trace/bar coding and in-store price-weigh applications, using thermal or uncoated paper stocks. And this sector of the market could continue to grow, particularly in high-value areas like security and durables labeling. Glue-applied labels are still the most-popular variety in Mexico and, looking at the entire North American market, take 32 percent. Commercial printers stand to benefit from utilizing glue-applied labels, as their lack of complex press- room requirements and ability to be printed sheet-fed or roll- fed on normal commercial presses make them more appro- priate for long printruns. With packaging print being the only area of the printed goods market growing globally, expect glue-applied labels to make modest gains. Also expected to grow, and at a faster rate than the entire market, are the shrink-fed, stretch-fed and RFS (reel-fed shrink)/ ROSO (roll-on/sleve-on) sleeve technologies, which now hold 13 percent of the North American label market (See Figure 3). Shelf stand-out, especially on beverages, tamper-evident properties and ability to act as a barrier to container breaks or damage, all increase popularity with consumers and brand owners. The proverbial “new kid on the block” in the label market is in-mold, which has 2 percent and was up 3.5 percent from 2011 to 2012. The technologies used—high-speed injection, blow-molding with robotics, expensive molds—create a com- plex manufacturing process, but in-mold labels work well for high-volume container decoration and thin-walled yogurt or margarine containers. North America has a knowledgeable and capable group of raw materials suppliers, which has helped in-mold label growth. On the flip side, the number of experienced in-mold la- bel printers is not as strong, both in the region and worldwide. CONCERNS & OPPORTUNITIES There are several key issues facing the North American label market as it continues to evolve and react to the world- wide business environment. They include: • Cost – The rising prices of film materials, inks, resins, adhesives and paper and wood pulp, as well as oil and petrochemicals have contributed to an overall difficulty in maintaining profitability for those involved in the label industry • The Environment – As consumers increase their aware- ness of what it means to be environmentally friendly, brand owners have moved to publish information on their carbon footprints and waste management efforts Pressure-Sensitive Sleeve Others Glue Applied In-Mold 49% 13% 6% 32% 2% Figure 3: Label Market Growth Rates by Format, 2012. Source: AWA Alexander Watson Associates Figure 2: North American Market Shares by Labeling Technology, 2012. Source: AWA Alexander Watson Associates www.flexography.org SepTeMbeR 2013 FLEXO 49