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Label Summit Latin America 2019 largest held in Colombia

The conference sessions were well-attended at Label Summit Latin America 2019

Medellín, Colombia, was host to Label Summit Latin America’s best attended, most successful event in the country to date. Held on May 14-15, it attracted 749 label and package printing industry representatives.

Held at Plaza Mayor, Label Summit Latin America 2019 was held for the second time in the city (previously in 2014), and the third time in Colombia. Attendee numbers were the highest in the country to date, with key suppliers and delegates from 31 countries attending 15 conference sessions, chaired by Labels & Labeling group managing editor James Quirk. 

The conference included informative panel discussions and in-depth expert-led technical and practical presentations. An accompanying table-top exhibition running over the two days also offered delegates the opportunity to network and gain an exclusive preview of the latest technology. 

Jessika Bustamante Meisner, Label Summit Latin America 2019 event manager, said: ‘We are delighted with our most successful Label Summit in Colombia to date. When we introduced Medellín, Colombia, to the Label Summit Latin America sequence back in 2014, it closed with a record-breaking attendance level far exceeding expectations.

‘For this year’s edition to set a new record yet again is testament to the incredible growth seen in the country. Its buoyant market is bolstering Latin America’s fastest label and packaging expansion in the last decade, so it was fantastic to see such a strong representation from our host country along with the rest of the region at Label Summit Latin America 2019.’

The market 
In the table-top booths, the mood was buoyant. Colombia is Latin America’s fourth largest economy, and has maintained relative stability in the face of a growing influx of Venezuelan migrants, currency fluctuations and a new political landscape. 

Medellin has more label converters per capita than anywhere else in Colombia. They are investing and growing. Juan Da Silva, Latin American sales director for AVT, said: ‘I’m seeing a lot of customers who started as smaller companies that are now investing in more state-of-the-art machines and advanced equipment. In the past, these smaller companies weren’t able to compete with the large multinational label companies. But they’ve started investing in advanced technology and machinery and now they can. We’re starting to see expansion where we didn’t see it before.’

Juan Bermudez, VP of sales for Latin America at Harper Corporation of America, said: ‘Colombia is a growing market for us, but all the markets in Latin America are affected by the local political environment. Colombia is still adjusting to a new president. People are investing, but they are always cautious.’ 

Alex Cruz, Latin America sales executive at Yupo, said: ‘Colombia is a very proactive market. Here you have a label industry that’s trying new equipment, trying new applications and more willing to take risks. They don’t wait for someone to introduce them to new technology and applications: they actively seek them out.’

In terms of technology, UV LED curing was a key talking point on the show floor. Mark Andy, which is now offering its newest Performance Series P9E press in the region, reported an increase in installations of presses equipped with UV LED curing. It has sold six such machines in Latin America, said the company’s John Vigna. 

Natural Ink was showcasing its range of UV LED inks. Kay Avila, general manager at Natural Ink said: ‘The market is finally starting to see the benefits of these inks and this technology. It’s really taking off.’ 

Part of the reason UV LED curing is gaining momentum is due to high energy costs in Colombia, Mark Andy’s John Cavey said: ‘With the cost of electricity so high in Colombia, our ProLED solutions with Phoseon have done really well here. With LED curing, label converters are cutting out a lot of their electricity costs.’

Digital label printing was also of interest to attendees, with entry-level digital presses garnering attention at the Mark Andy and AstroNova booths, the suppliers said. The HP, Epson and Xeikon booths also appeared to have steady streams of traffic as converters in the region look to cater to growing demand in short-run work.

Lies De Laet, events manager at Flint Group, said: ‘Label Summit Latin America is a unique event where we can meet high profile and professional flexo customers from Latin America. The information that was shared during the presentations gave us a new vision that will be very useful for the future.’

Materials supplier UPM Raflatac took an environmental theme, and spent most of the two-day event speaking with customers about its Vanish PCR, a clear film with recycled content face and liner. 

Conference 
The conference program is an integral part of the success of the Label Summit events in Latin America, with converters in the region hungry for the latest tools and information to help run their businesses. The 2019 event was no different, with the program covering a range of topics with a strong business and strategy theme, as well as sessions on design and branding and new market opportunities. 

Opening the summit was a presentation on recent changes in Colombian legislation and the impact on the printing industry, given by Alexander Hernández Muñoz, head of product development, ICIPC. This was followed by a session led by Cesar Augusto Bernal Gonzalez, founder and managing director, Everest Printed Solutions. 

Diddier Solano, area sales director for gold sponsor UPM Raflatac, gave the keynote presentation. He discussed key trends in labels and packaging and cited minimalist design, bright gradients and vintage designs as some of the top trends. 

Tatiana Duarte, executive president of Colombian graphic arts association Andigraf, outlined ten packaging trends shaping up for 2020, including new packaging formats and enhanced print finishing technology. 

Iban Cid, managing director of Spanish label converter Germark, and a regular and popular speaker at Label Summit events, emphasized the influence of packaging on consumer purchasing decisions through various case studies.

What was perhaps the most popular session of the event overall was led by Guillermo Dufranc, graphic project manager at design agency Tridimage. His presentation ‘Design Playlist for Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z’ examined the end of ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to meeting consumer needs through tailored product branding. 

Building on this, the afternoon’s panel discussion focused on creating products with stand-out presence. A strong line-up of regional branding experts featured Luis Arevalo, design and packaging director Latin America, Colgate-Palmolive; Catalina Botero, brand development director, Grupo Familia; Luísa Garcia, brand manager, Compañía Nacional de Chocolates (Grupo Nutresa); and Ader Cárdenas, design manager, Quala Nova. 

The second day of the conference began with Juan Sebastián Estrada Hernández, CEO of Ideeo 4.0, who led a session on business diversification into label and packaging production from other industries. This was followed by a session on mergers and acquisitions led by Fernando Gabel, executive vice president and general manager, Latam, All4Labels Group. 

Fabián Domínguez, executive sales manager, labels and sheets at Paraguayan converter Zamphiropolos spoke about the importance of lean manufacturing and just-in-time production in the context of exporting labels to neighboring markets.

Tara Halpin, owner and CEO of US converter Steinhauser, spoke on creating a positive company culture to grow your business. ‘Happy people deliver results, and when your people are happy, they make your customers happy,’ she said, adding that her company saw increased profits, better recruitment and increased performance, satisfaction and longevity once Steinhauser put a focus on its culture. 

L&L editor James Quirk rounded up stats and trends from various markets around the world, and key technology trends unveiled at recent Labelexpo shows.

Daniel Alayón, designer at Colombian converter Etipress, discussed how to combat counterfeiting with invisible serialization.

A lively panel discussion on the future of print, including intelligent products and how the industry needs to respond to consumer expectations, rounded off the summit. It featured panelists José Gutierrez, MCA north country manager, HP; day one speaker Guillermo Dufranc of Tridimage; Juan Pablo Patino, Andean regional manager, Nilpeter; and Juana Mesa, partner and strategic director, Grupo imasD. 

Iban Cid, managing director of Germark, who presented on day one, said: ‘Label Summit Latin America 2019 was the best Summit I have attended. The conference sessions were of the highest level, especially the brand panel and the presentations which covered packaging trends. They were very interesting and useful for label converters like us.’

Diddier Solano, area sales director, Latin America, UPM Raflatac, added: ‘I enjoyed delivering the keynote address during the conference program, and teaching the attendees about the latest innovations and design trends in the pressure sensitive labeling industry.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chelsea McDougall is North America editor for Labels & Labeling.

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