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Editor's note: In praise of label industry essential workers

Editor's note: In praise of label industry essential workers

Since the lockdown was implemented in the UK in March, a ‘clap for carers’ has seen people step into gardens and onto balconies in their droves to applaud National Health Service staff and other key workers every Thursday night at 8pm. Millions are reported to have taken part.

The phenomenon of people cheering in the evenings began in mid-January in the shut-down Chinese city of Wuhan. It took off in Italy, with people emerging to bang on pots and pans and play accordions. Similar initiatives – including standing ovations and singing – have become commonplace around the world: Paris, Madrid, Atlanta, Buenos Aires, Istanbul and many more. 

In this issue of Labels & Labeling, allow us to pay tribute to those in our industry who have continued to work in such difficult conditions – a written ‘clap for converters’, so to speak. 

As Mike Fairley sets out in his column, the label industry has been largely overlooked in its key role of supplying all those necessary label products and components that enable manufacturing, distribution, tracking and tracing of essential medical or hospital goods, food and household products. The global supply chain relies on labels of many different kinds to convey all sorts of information, as well as protect against counterfeiting. In collaboration with Finat – which, alongside other associations around the world, has worked diligently to support converters and lobby on behalf of the industry – he outlines which labels should be classified as essential supplies for manufacturing and distribution. 

In the United States and South Africa, we report on industry suppliers’ and converters’ efforts to keep production going, as well as highlighting some of the numerous cases of companies retooling production lines to support healthcare, first responders and other front-line workers with critical personal protection equipment (PPE). 

Elsewhere in the issue, branding and design columnist Vicki Strull considers what impact the coronavirusinduced boom in e-commerce might have on the label and packaging sector, while Andy Thomas-Emans looks at how converters have adapted to the situation, and which of these new measures might become commonplace even after the pandemic subsides. 

The label industry has shown tremendous resilience in responding to these challenging conditions. Its response has been highly impressive and deserves much praise. 


James Quirk is group managing editor of Labels & Labeling.

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