At Labelexpo Americas two years ago, Latin American label converters had made their presence felt as never before. Visitor numbers from the region had not notably risen from the previous event – the difference had been felt thanks to their numerous orders of advanced machinery.
Before this year’s event, a note of caution might have been forgiven. Despite strong label sector growth, Brazil’s economic development has been slow since the middle of last year. In neighboring Argentina, meanwhile, currency controls and import restrictions are an unlikely precursor to the country’s converters splashing money at a foreign trade show.
But their impact was even greater this year, as Labelexpo Americas 2012 saw a 25 percent increase in attendees from Latin America. The higher visitor numbers from the region – combined with their increasing purchasing power – had a tangible impact on the show, with a large number of exhibitors reporting interest – and often orders – from Latin American converters.
L&L spoke to the regional sales managers of the major press manufacturers during the event; all reported multiple installations in the region over the last 12 months, with Peru, Colombia and Venezuela the most often-cited destinations. Even Argentine converters are finding ways around the restrictions – one press manufacturer is currently installing three new machines in the country.
Mexico sent the largest delegation of label converters to Labelexpo this year, with a 20 percent rise from two years ago. Brazil was next, sending the same number as in 2010. Colombia, in third, saw its attendance leap by 75 percent, while fourth-placed Argentina had a 21 percent rise. Peru saw visitor numbers increase by a whopping two and a half times; Venezuela and Chile had rises of 30 percent and 20 percent respectively.
Of particular significance is the large increase in visitors from Peru and Colombia. The countries are two of the region’s current success stories, with strong GDP growth, rising local demand and increasing exports all combining for strong development in their respective label markets.
As reflected in the increased number of Latin American attendees as Labelexpo, the region’s label industry growth continues apace. AWA’s recent analysis of the South American market estimated regional label volume growth to be nearly 12 percent in 2011 – the same figure as China, and three percent more than India.
A final thought – the region has seen extensive merger and acquisition activity in recent years, with companies such as CCL, UPM Raflatac, MultiColor, CTI Invest and Sato all investing to acquire local businesses. Industry gatherings such as Labelexpo Americas are always likely territory for the first whispered breaths of such deals; what M&A news to be seen before the end of the year?
James Quirk, Latin America editor, L&L