What’s in store for the year ahead? Industry experts have their say
3D AG, Aleksandar Milutinovic - AA Labels, Ian Axelsen - A B Graphic International, Al Spendalow - Actega, Mell Bishop - Actega Metal Print, Paolo Grasso - Acucote, Melissa Harton - AlpVision, Fred Jordan - Avery Dennison, Jeroen Diderich - Avery Dennison, Hassan Rmaile - Avery Dennison, Bill Podojil - AWT Labels & Packaging, Bruce Hanson - Bobst, Patrick Graber - Cerm, Geert Van Damme - Channeled Resources Group - Coatings & Adhesives Corporation, Steve Burleson - Cosmo Films, Kapil Anand - Coveris, Will Mercer - Creation Reprographics, Matt Francklow - Durst, Thomas Macina - Epson America, Victor R. Gomez - Etirama, Norberto Wiederkehr - EyeC, Ansgar Kaupp - Fix-a-Form, Rachel Littleboy - FlexoWash, Mette Laursen - Herma, Harald Wallner - Hybrid Software Group, Guido Van der Schueren - Huhtamaki India - Jetsci Global, Jimit Mittal - The Kennedy Group, Todd Kennedy - The Label Printers, Lori Campbell - Labels&Labeling, Mike Fairley - Lemorau, Natália Lopes - Lintec Label, Jorge Cordoba - Miraclon, Grant Blewett - Nilpeter, Jakob Landberg - Pulse Roll Label Products, Gary Steward - Schreiner MediPharm US, Gene Dul - Screen Europe, Taishi Motoshige - Signature Flexible Packaging, John Attayek - Signode India (Wintek), Lakshminarayanan - SPG Prints, Hank Guitjens - Tecnocut, Pol Estrada - Tonejet, Rob Day - Toyobo, Kyozo Kotani - The Open Approach, Bob Cronin - Vicki Strull Design, Vicki Strull - Wanjie Europe, Félix Prieto - Weldon Celloplast, Harveer Sahni - Xeikon, Danny Martens - Ranesh Bajaj, director, Vinsak
Mike Fairley, strategic consultant, Labels & Labeling
After almost two years of restrictions and lockdowns it appears that much of the world is at last beginning to experience a period of growth. However this growth looks to be coming with a number of challenges which will most likely have a key impact on the label industry's performance, profitability and investment decisions over the coming year.
Already being experienced are rising costs ̶ in materials, in energy, in labor, in shipping and in distribution. This in turn will put pressure on converters to look at trying to increase their prices. This will not be easy as label buyers will probably be looking to contain or even reduce the price they pay for their labels. No doubt the industry will be in for some interesting discussions on this with customers. It’s worth thinking how the converter can better add value so as to justify any increases.
To combat rising costs converters should also be looking at how they can improve production efficiency and flexibility, enhance workflow automation, reduce downtime and minimize wastage. This may mean further investment in MIS, in advanced web inspection and control systems, as well as faster and wider flexo or digital presses.
If the experience of other industries coming out of lockdown is anything to go by then the label industry may additionally be faced with labor and skills shortages in the coming year. Look to enhance recruitment, training and, particularly, job retention to ensure that employees are not tempted to move to a competitor or even another industry.
Finally, the label industry should expect to see increasing pressures from governments, brand owners and pressure groups on just about everything that can placed at the door of ‘climate change’, whether this is environmental issues, energy consumption, factory heating, carbon reduction, the use of sustainable materials, minimizing waste and increasing recycling, and rising pressures on the use of plastics.
Ideally, companies in the label industry should perhaps appoint a member of the management team to look at each of these four key areas ̶̶ cost reduction, efficiency and automation, recruitment and training, and climate change and the environment ̶ and make recommendations for implementation and growth.
Bob Cronin, managing partner, The Open Approach
This past year was quite favorable for labels and packaging, but entrepreneurs must navigate 2022 dynamics to stay ahead. First, consolidation will continue, and may speed up as investors – especially private equity – seek to dominate in our highly fragmented industry. Larger geographic footprints will be essential to avert material shortages and supply chain issues which will likely accelerate as more laborers leave in the ‘great resignation’. Smart companies will expand warehousing/inventory and extend supplier networks. Some will begin producing their own stocks to avoid price and availability issues. Customers are still adjusting/rebuilding from Covid-19 and will seek new partners who can offer more capabilities — and more confidence that they can get their products without delay.
This spells out great opportunity for 2022. Strong marketing, prospecting and follow-through are imperative. And initiatives to retain your existing base shouldn’t be missed. Your top customers may be the ones mentioned above. Many companies will gain ground through strategic partnerships, alliances, and perhaps an M&A venture. This spirit of the marketplace is still a little shaky. Make the moves to give your customers more control and assurances. With proper adjustments, you’ll be positioning your company for 2022 and beyond.
Vicki Strull, brand strategist, Vicki Strull Design
Sustainability will continue to evolve – not as a trend, but as a true change in corporate mindset. It must become intrinsic to the brand itself; part of its DNA. Not just because consumers care about it, but because brands are taking responsibility for the sustainability of every aspect of their business. And by the way, sustainability won’t just be about the environment; the mindset will expand to include a sustainable workforce, fair trade and fair labor practices.
Another development we’ll see regards how brands will lure consumers back to retail stores, since all of us have become so comfortable ordering online. I see this as an opportunity for point-of-purchase and packaging to embrace the combination of experience and convenience in the store – what I’m calling ‘experiential retail’. It might be through QR codes, for example; maybe you scan for more information about the product, or to self-checkout, or to see an inventory or get fashion tips. It’s an opportunity for converters to use what they already know about engaging print to help brands connect; that is, they already know how to make packaging experiential with shapes, haptics and special effects, to name a few. Experiences are going to lure people back to retail stores, not transactions.
Hassan Rmaile, GM/VP EMENA, Avery Dennison
While 2021 brought with it significant disruption for us all, encouraging signs such as the success of vaccine rollouts and people slowly returning to semi-normal or the ‘new normal’ social interactions give cause for optimism that 2022 will bring us another step closer to a familiar business environment.
We recognize that strong consumer sentiments center around the need to deliver sustainable packaging and continue to grow. Our industry must see this as a call to action for collaboration, promoting regenerative solutions and stepping out of our collective comfort zones to deliver meaningful change for packaging designers, converters, brand owners and consumers.
In regard to trends, we see the further implementation of RFID technology and E2E Digital ID solutions offering exciting possibilities at every step of the value chain across industries. Another important and welcome trend we hope will come to fruition is the resumption of large industry events such as Labelexpo. These events give us the opportunity to engage with our ecosystem in person which will be welcomed by all after the past 20+ months.
Matt Francklow, managing director, Creation Reprographics
In a year marked by instability and uncertainty, we’re all looking to regain normalcy in the industry. It’s clear that a major part of this is a strong re-focus on supply chain sustainability, which remains critical to the consumer. The coming year is set to mark real change for printers, not least when it comes to meeting environmental commitments.
We’re anticipating that solvent-free plate technology will play a significant role in flexo in 2022. From our unique perspective as a pre-press partner, we are seeing printers explore new ways to bring ‘green’ technology earlier into their supply chain, which is where water-washable flexo plates drive real value. The volatile cost of solvent through the global pandemic has only strengthened the case for solvent-free printing.
In the label and packaging sector, we’re always looking for signs of what that next major step-change for the industry will be, and how we can move the sustainability conversation forward. There's clear environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments from brands and retailers, and the packaging pre-press sector has the opportunity to make harmful pre-press VOC washout a thing of the past. As such, water washable plate solutions have to part of that trend and ultimately, we believe that solvent-free plates will be the standard, not the exception.
The biggest message for printers is that we need to get past this archaic idea that sustainable technology is a compromise or just marketing buzz. Today’s water washable flexo plates, like the selection we supply at Creation, actually boost quality, ink registration and consistency, as well as being faster to produce and to dry – freeing up print operators to do more. There are real commercial advantages to going solvent-free, which is why we’re expecting success in 2022.
Félix Prieto, general manager, Wanjie Europe
Needless to say, 2020 was unpredictable, especially during the second half of the year. We were not able to develop our sales work in the EU due to the travel restrictions. In addition, those customers that decided to invest often did it through their existing partners, so not too many chances for us. However, we were very lucky to sell, via video streaming, our Wanjie demo machine and installing in Slovakia a machine that was supposed to go to drupa.
2021 was a recovery year: customers have been accepting visits and, moreover, are ready to purchase different technology brands from their existing ones. In the first half of 2021 alone we were selling a machine a month. My perception is that 2022 will be a great year if we do not have another Covid variant, and Labelexpo Europe is the key factor for such a recovery.
Norberto Wiederkehr, commercial director, Etirama
This scenario will not be repeated in 2022 due to the inflationary trend that has been putting pressure on prices. In the first half of the year, this will influence consumer confidence, demand, and the growth of the world economy. The wage gap created by the pandemic, which impacted the consumption power of middle and low-income markets, will be systematically corrected during the year, and this could lead to a demand increase and consequently a more promising second semester.
These circumstances will guide our customers to be more cautious – avoiding capital expenditure for long-term returns. This will help those like us whose products offer less exposure to risk thanks to their a quick return on investment.
Lakshminarayanan, business unit head, Signode India (Wintek)
After the damage caused by the pandemic in 2020 and the first half of 2021, the economy is still yet to fully revive but we are optimistic thanks to improved results across the industry in Q3 2021. 2022 will see revival and turnaround.
2022’s outlook will be more dependent on surging e-commerce and changing consumer demand. We have seen the volume of smaller SKUs decline and consumers’ buying patterns shift to bigger SKUs and a reluctance to visit retail stores and buying off the shelf, in order to remain safe.
Many start-ups have emerged in the last year, taking advantage of the e-commerce surge particularly in personal care and cosmetics, wellness and health products and catered to by digital technology. Conventionally printed packaging has seen a decline; digital has evolved to cater to on-demand and quick turnaround.
With continued volatility in raw material costs, the response is to reduce wastage. The technology shift is towards digital, in order to reduce wastage and be cost-effective. Digital is the way forward for offering packaging and labels on-demand, with customized and seasonal promotions, to meet consumers’ expectations and the evolving trends in consumption and demand.
Harveer Sahni, chairman, Weldon Celloplast
While the situation prevalent due to Covid-19 seems to be softening, the after-effects are evident. The fear of yet another phase of the pandemic looms large. The industry which stayed locked in for most of last year and faced adverse impact has shown a fair amount of resilience and is fighting back. Increasing raw material prices, reduced workforce, and spiraling fuel and freight prices continue to trouble the label fraternity but the natural organic growth in the quantity of labels needed does drive a positive growth rate, despite depressed profit margins. The volume growth in India is driven largely by the younger median age of an increasing literate workforce with disposable income providing impetus to retail and finally an increase in need for labels and packaging. Pressure-sensitive labels continue to be the predominant format in a diverse range of label options. Wet-glue, despite decreasing market share, continues to hold substantial volumes and may remerge with new application techniques due to biodegradability and environmental concerns. Flexo continues to be the predominantly used printing technology though digital is now registering important installations due to an increasing requirement of short runs. If the pandemic continues to recede, the label industry can be expected to see a quantum jump when people start their visits to malls and markets and get back to their normal pre-Covid usage patterns.
Guido Van der Schueren, chairman, Hybrid Software
It’s never easy to predict the future but several trends are abundantly clear. First, the world is still fighting its way back to normalcy after an unprecedented pandemic, and this will continue well into 2022. Label and packaging production was not impacted as severely as many other industry segments, but the pandemic accelerated the migration of label converters to more automated production methods, especially digital printing, and I believe this trend will pick up speed in 2022 and beyond.
I believe that 2022 will be a year of shortages in many areas: manpower, energy, transportation and raw materials, to name a few. All of these trends favor digital label printing: labels can be produced faster and closer to the manufacturing process, in precise quantities which limit waste, with fewer human touchpoints. Variable data and personalization can also be added to increase the perception of value.
But automated manufacturing is a data-driven process, and this requires label designs that are printable, variable data sources that are correct, and manufacturing systems that efficiently map orders to available production equipment and substrates. What’s the common element? Software. Companies like Hybrid Software Group that produce software to automate label manufacturing will continue to grow in 2022, and so will label converters of all sizes that implement it properly. I see a very bright future ahead for the label and packaging industry as we recover from the pandemic together.
Taishi Motoshige, marketing director, Screen Europe
Sustainability is one of the biggest global trends, and one of the most common words in our collective vocabulary – for good reason. At Screen, we understand that environmental crises like global warming and chemical pollution are key issues affecting the sustainable development of society. For this reason, we make every effort to promote business activities aimed at maintaining an environment that is friendly to both people and the planet. When it comes to printing technology, Screen’s developments are very much focused on inkjet for the future, prioritizing water-based and UV inks that conform to relevant food safety regulations.
Further innovations include automation, not just in terms of submission, management, processing of the data within our Digital Front End (DFE) Equios, but also integrated with the whole production process – from JDF format instruction processing to real-time JMF job messaging generation. It’s all about reducing steps, as well as waste, and generally improving efficiencies in the printing process.
Another key focus area is getting the balance right between professional printing quality and shortening the job turnaround time. The SAI-S – with the inclusion of just two additional color modules, vibrant orange and unique blue – extends the gamut to cover as closely as possible the most common Pantone colors printed by converters. It enables them to reproduce such spot colors without using spot color ink in short time by a smart color management system.
Paolo Grasso, sales director, Actega Metal Print
Next year will represent a post pandemic business recovery, with some of the trends that we’ve seen over the last 18 months continuing into 2022. For instance, the adoption of the web-2-pack model will no doubt increase, in addition to the continued and general rise of digital print across the sector. And importantly, sustainability will remain a key objective for most in 2022 and the decades to come. We already see this from brands and converters who are interested in our digital embellishment technology to help them reduce or replace their use of hot and cold foils, which are notoriously unsustainable. Although still in its infancy, we predict that in a few decades time, digital embellishments will be mainstream and the industry standard. Beyond that, digital print across the industry will continue to increase next year as mentioned, but perhaps beginning to incorporate other digital communications such as microchips and connected apps for a smart, enhanced consumer experience.
Jimit Mittal, president, Jetsci Global
Due to Covid-19, the last two years have been challenging for every business. The fast pace of vaccination is easing the restricted travel across the countries, thus gradually increasing business opportunities. Businesses have completely changed the way it was done before Covid due to the increased requirement of faster turnaround and shrinking volumes, especially for the label converters.
In the coming year, more focus will be on automation in processes and on catering to the demand of short runs and faster turnarounds. Thus we will see a large number of installations of digital technology. The label and packaging market is expected to grow at a faster pace than ever before in the coming years. Labelexpo Europe 2022 will be the trendsetter for the label and packaging industry as we can see many new launches in technology and huge interest from label converters to upgrade their existing workflow and processes to adapt to the post-Covid changes.
Harald Wallner, director of international sales, Herma
We strongly expect the consequences of the Covid pandemic will continue to shape 2022. However, the fact that the world has managed to develop and produce highly effective vaccines in such a short time is a good sign. We should always remember the great success of this joint effort when we complain about the minor limitations we still have to live with at present.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming our customers in person again in 2022 at trade shows such as Labelexpo. These live events, in which we will increasingly participate next year, will probably have fewer visitors than usual. But talking directly to those who are seriously interested is invaluable. It creates understanding and trust – all over the world, these are two key factors for successful long-term partnerships.
In 2022, however, we will also see the digital infrastructure created in the previous two years become an even more natural part of the communication culture. Even to clarify more complex issues, you no longer necessarily have to jet around the globe. With our HERMAviEvent platform, our customers and discussion partners can choose whether they want to be there live or experience content relating to self-adhesive materials on a time-delayed basis. They can decide whether they prefer to explore content on their own, participate live in discussions with experts, or have innovations explained to them by their usual contact person using multimedia tools.
Further progress is urgently needed in another area: global warming threatens us all. More and more people around the world are feeling it firsthand. Sustainability is a big word that we need to breathe life into. Recycle, Reduce, Renew are the order of the day. In recent years, we have already shown what is possible in this respect with self-adhesive materials. This will also be the focus of Herma's products in 2022.
Gary Seward, managing director, Pulse Roll Label Products
2021 has been a year like no other, with the global supply chain crisis creating unprecedented challenges, affecting not just the label market but many other industries, and consumers, worldwide. Our sector has experienced exceptional circumstances shaped by factors that together have contributed to seeing prices rocket and supplies interrupted on a scale that could simply not have been predicted.
Raw material prices continue to escalate and conditions remain extremely volatile. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing if, or when, this situation will stabilize. Right now, it is difficult to predict a month ahead, so predicting how this will play out in 2022 is virtually impossible. We do however anticipate the situation is likely to continue early into next year.
Despite a turbulent year, Pulse Roll Label Products remains in a strong position. We continue to work closely with our customers, partners, raw material suppliers and transport companies and will continue to take pro-active steps wherever possible to ensure continuity of supply for our customers. Keeping the supply chain moving will be a key focus in 2022. At the same time, we expect the trend to continue for innovative products that add value, save time and money, and that are more sustainable.
Al Spendalow, director, A B Graphic International
Steve Burleson, sales and marketing segment business manager for label products, Coatings & Adhesives Corporation
Lori Campbell, president, The Label Printers
John Attayek, CEO, Signature Flexible Packaging
Jorge Cordoba, general manager, Lintec Label
Pharmaceuticals, cannabis, food, flexible packaging and smart labels are all growing sectors that will continue to expand through 2022; we are looking to increase our business in these sectors as our customers are demanding their dedicated partners grow along with them in those fields.
Todd Kennedy, owner, The Kennedy Group
Cynthia Frost White, president and CEO, Channeled Resources Group
It's hard to put what is going to happen in 2022 into words. I doubt any of us forecast the crisis that happened due to Covid and supply constraints in 2020 and 2021. Twice in the last two weeks, I have heard that we have 16 to 18 more months of supply chain issues to look forward to. We have had three price increases from our paper suppliers in the past six months, and we expect one more in early January. I'm afraid until demand drops, that will not be the last increase. On top of that, labor and freight constraints will increase costs and lead times on materials for the inevitable future. We are repeating the rapid inflation of the 1970s. Worse, we cannot get certain chemicals, so supply is almost impossible in some product lines. This is not a fun prediction for 2022. Most of us had a tough 2020 with Covid headaches. 2021 has been very stressful due to prices and shortages. 2022 will not be much better.
Victor R. Gomez, director, industrial label products, Epson America
Label and packaging converters are going to be facing similar challenges in 2022 as they faced in 2021. By that, I’m talking about workforce challenges, which has been a problem in the industry for years prior, but it’s being accelerated now as more of the older press operators are retiring or are more at risk.
Because of this, digital printing is being brought to the forefront as it’s easier to find people to operate digital presses. Young people, who may not be willing to take on a five-year apprenticeship on operating a flexo press, may be more willing to learn how to operate a digital press.
And, of course, the supply chain challenges that are front and center in everybody’s mind are not going to be sorted out for a long while. There are no short-term solutions – it’s a systemic issue that we’re going to be living with for probably the next calendar year.
Bill Podojil, vice president, sales label & graphic materials (north), Avery Dennison
There are three topics that we’re focusing on, the first being sustainability. And when I say sustainability, I mean sustainably sourced. That’s with materials that can either be removed, reused, or recycled – where you’re not just thinking about the material from your point of view but rather through the circularity of its lifecycle.
Secondly, innovation is going to be critical in the next year. And by innovation, I don’t just mean new products. That’s definitely part of it, but innovation also means new ways of doing business. New business models, new marketplaces. I think the sky is the limit. With the booms we’re having in e-commerce and buying behavior, people need to be conscious of how to adapt to – or drive – the change to keep the industry strong.
And finally, make sure you keep your talent pool strong and empowered. Because with the people side of business, especially once we’re on the other side of Covid, they’re going to be much more engaged, creatively, on figuring what this new space looks like. Whether that be innovation or developing new business models, it’s going to take people to drive this.
Bruce Hanson, CEO, AWT Labels & Packaging
Sustainability stands out the most. Finding ways to bring better, more sustainable solutions forward. And that’s both on the label and flexible packaging side of the industry. Whether its wash-away adhesives or other PET-type products, you’re going to find a lot of companies trying to bring products that are better for the environment.
SKU proliferation is also a trend that’s going to continue into 2022. The complexity and variety companies are looking to bring to market will remain and be a steady trend. Label converters are going to have to be able to support and meet the demands clients are looking for in terms of standing out on the shelves through the use embellishments or other finishes.
Another thing that’s going to be interesting to see is how companies are going to manage and control costs with the price increases that have been hitting the label and flexible packaging markets. Everyone, across industries, is dealing with this right now.
Pol Estrada, international business manager, Tecnocut
Our world continues to change, and companies must continue to adapt to keep up with competition and consumer demands. Thanks to new technologies, changing customer priorities, and of course the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic and the global lack of supplies, we will see that many of the industry changes that already begun in 2021 will be consolidated during 2022.
The label sector will continue its upward path during 2022 and will focus its efforts on optimizing production processes. Environmentally friendly products have a record demand that spans different industries and is increasingly becoming a requirement. We must keep looking for new ways of manufacturing with the aim of leaving the smallest possible footprint on our planet. Going green is no longer just an option, as the market for more environment-friendly manufacturing processes continues to grow.
Another key point for the sector is to continue with the updating and implementation of new technologies to continue providing added value in the daily lives of citizens everywhere in the world.
Rachel Littleboy, marketing executive, Fix-a-Form International
Trade shows returning and being able to travel will be a welcome addition to 2022, especially for machinery manufacturers. Although you can ‘maintain’ relationships via online platforms, it is harder to make new relationships. People like to see what they are buying, meet who they are talking to and generally build a rapport before making a decision. I do think going in to 2022 businesses will still be focused on saving costs and sustainability, looking at different avenues on which products they can offer to financially secure their business in a world which has changed over the last two years.
According to The World Bank Group, the global economy is set to have its strongest post-recession pace for over 80 years. We know the recovery will be uneven in many different sectors and in different countries, but the label sector has continued with momentum despite the pandemic. E-commerce sales were already on the rise but the pandemic accelerated this and we will expect to see this continue in 2022. Pharmaceutical, clinical trials and food packaging were also in high demand, which I also expect to continue.
Jakob Landberg, sales and marketing director, Nilpeter
From my point of view, 2022 is going to be yet another surprising year, with unprecedented challenges. Our markets have been booming during/after Covid-19, but our industry-wide supply chain crisis is front page news all over the world.
Some parts of the world have handled Covid very well, while others (in Asia, Latin America, and certain enclaves in Europe) are still fighting. That will unfortunately continue well into 2022.
On a positive note, I do, however, expect the introduction of a lot of new technology – conventional, digital, IoT-based – pushed by price increases and very busy label markets. Workflow automation with focus on faster changeovers and minimal waste will pop up.
More automation is crucial if we want to attract new generations of operators and managers into our industry. There is a global need for ‘young blood’. 2022 will also be another milestone for mergers and acquisitions in our attractive industry. We’re facing many inevitable generational changes without new generations to take over.
I believe we are fortunate to work in an innovative industry – with a vast combination of technologies, a global market, small product suppliers and enormous solutions-based providers. We are used to facing a multitude of challenges, and I for one am excited to come up with new solutions. Bring on 2022!
Aleksandar Milutinovic, head of client solutions, 3D AG
The world is turning, and we are turning with it. As in almost all industries, the well-known megatrend of individualization will continue to accompany us in 2022. More than ever, it is important to keep an eye on consumer behavior when developing new products. These days, consumers are always looking for standardized products that they can individualize or personalize according to their needs, allowing them to create truly unique products in a world where it feels like everyone already has the very same thing. Consumer behavior will also adapt more and more to this trend; customers will become more individual and self-determined. Already today, a company must stand out from the crowd. Purchasing decisions are no longer made solely based on price. The customer can choose from a wide range of competitors, which means that in the future one will be selected even more carefully than before. The consumer wants to decide and will no longer choose brands that do not fit their ethical, self-determined way of thinking. So, you have to reach the consumer with your content, your story and your vision. Many of you may be wondering how to do this as a company with a physical product: the key is with a digital asset. In our case, we help customers facing these challenges with a QR code on a hologram so they can tell their story and allow their consumers to interact with their product. So, keep your eyes and ears open in client meetings, because the customer journey to the point of purchase will define the future of business.
Dr Fred Jordan, CEO and co-founder, AlpVision
In 2021, AlpVision celebrated its 20th anniversary. That means that AlpVision has been providing solutions to detect counterfeit labels for 20 years using the Cryptoglyph technology. The Cryptoglyph uses micro-holes printed in the varnish layer which are invisible to the naked eye, cost nothing to print, and are easy to detect with AlpVision dedicated smartphone app. It is used to protect 30 billions of products each year and is printed by over 200 printers worldwide.
In 2022, AlpVision will deploy the new generation of its Brand Monitoring System (BMS) platform. BMS can instantly connect the brand owner, the supplier and the consumer, for instance providing real-time information about where counterfeit issues are happening. It will also provide entirely new features thanks to the 5G connectivity. Indeed, it will implement a new functionality to manage variable Cryptoglyph used for the detection of gray market activities. Finally, for the first time, the Cryptoglyph technology will be used to introduce information related to recycling to automate the sorting of packages that have a label.
Hank Guitjens, commercial manager for label printing and industrial applications, SPG Prints
2022 will be a year where more focus will be on the supply chain and performing on time. Luckily the investment climate in new production capacity is positive. Consumers use more than ever goods where our industry supplies the labels and packaging. New printing presses are installed and our rotary screen printing units will have a significant part in that. Best in class in terms of screen white and embellishments cannot be beaten by the demands of brands, top quality is and will be the standard. Especially when volumes are required. Next to this we see a trend in non-label applications, such as printed electronics, where quantities are getting higher and rotary screen printing becomes profitable. SPGPrints sees a bright future, especially in 2022.
Ian Axelsen, business development manager at AA Labels
The trend for shorter order fulfilment times alongside shorter print-runs for labels will continue to drive process change in both customer accessibility and production terms. We live in a digital age and the embracing of technology is the key to success.
The Covid pandemic created an irreversible change in working patterns and social mobility with even more business purchasers ordering online and the more automated and easy online ordering processes, with fast delivery are increasingly becoming the expectation with customers.
Our own Express Print service launched earlier this year, has exceeded our anticipated level of usage and our recently introduced Click & Collect service is also being used by customers well outside of the mileage radius forecast, so much so that in 2022 we will also introduce a Click & Collect Plus service that will allow customers to collect the labels ordered online, in only one hour.
All of this has changed and continues to shape our production logistics and systems, along with our internet presence for mobile phone users to ensure that the whole process of placing orders, uploading design artwork, amending and approving soft-proofs and delivery preferences and schedules can be achieved as easily on a mobile as on a tablet, laptop or PC.
According to industry researchers the label and packaging markets are predicted to continue growing over the next five years and a lot of that growth will be about sustainability issues with label materials and adhesives that are environmentally friendly and part of a cyclical economy. The demand for removable and re-sealable adhesives will continue to grow.
Danny Mertens, corporate communications manager, Xeikon
During the pandemic Xeikon brought many new innovations to market. We supported our customers and partners by leveraging digital communications and investing in Live TV Broadcasts, for example. For the future we don’t intend to go back to past practices. We will expand our online communication tools and attend live events. In February 2022 Xeikon will attend Hunkeler Innovation Days to showcase its new range of Sirius digital presses, our next generation, dry toner technology for the graphic arts sector. We are expecting these presses to be popular in different parts of the printing markets.
The pandemic has accelerated the uptake of digitization and automation with increased online ordering and demands for flexibility. In response we will be expanding our range of applications. For labels we are seeing strong growth fueled by the ever-growing trend for short runs and digital embellishments. For packaging we are already seeing a lot of interest in our Idera solution for corrugated box production.
General trends we see for 2022 – the Covid health crisis will stabilize, the climate crisis will be all encompassing and businesses will have to offer stronger sustainability objectives.
Patrick Graber, strategic marketing manager for labels, Bobst
The label market will grow and the highest growth rate is in UV inkjet. All label companies need to move towards a multi-technology environment to enable greater flexibility and higher profitability. This is about optimizing your entire production. This trend will become stronger because price per label is continuing to decrease due to more productive and automated machines – mainly UV inkjet and all-in-one technology – with higher hourly output, which leads to lower cost per label and therefore a higher pressure on prices. The new all-in-one technology – inkjet/flexo – is going to bridge the gap between toner, first generation UV inkjet presses and flexo. In the flexo space, machines will become more digitalized, which improves agility and profitability in shorter runs.
Dr Ansgar Kaupp, general manager, EyeC
At EyeC we adore the efforts and the successes achieved by the pharmaceutical industry – our main market. We are very proud that this industry was capable of developing and rolling out safe vaccines to end the pandemic in a record time. And this will allow us to return to normal life shortly. Travelling is more and more allowed if you are vaccinated. Everyone in developed countries who wants to be is now vaccinated, and the campaign in the rising economies are catching up speed. So we are confident that we shall see a ‘normal’ 2022 returning back to growth. Travelling will be allowed so site visits and installations are again possible. This will be supported by the digital methods that we have learned leading to better and easier business communication.
In addition, we see a considerable backlog of projects that have been on hold but are now expected to move forward. The growth in the pharma sector driven by the pandemic has already translated into the need for additional manufacturing facilities and increased production of pharmaceuticals and their corresponding packaging and labelling requirements. This should drive considerable growth in 2022 in this sector.
Mell Bishop, global market manager for labels, Actega
The label market has experienced positive growth rates this year, despite the ongoing challenges resulting from the pandemic, and we expect to see this sector continue on its upwards trajectory into 2022. Trends to watch in 2022, and key drivers for this growth, include new ways of enhancing the consumer experience through labels and packaging. We have seen a significant increase in demand for haptic effects for shrink sleeves, such as relief or soft touch surfaces to make the packaging more impactful and engaging, and ultimately drive sales.
Developments in inks, materials and coatings for labels are also being increasingly driven by consumer and brands’ focus on sustainability. Actega is constantly developing solutions that enable us to further our vision for a more efficient, profitable and sustainable industry. This year was no exception, and it will be at the forefront of our vision for 2022. Our latest projects include the expansion of our water-based product solutions to replace solvent-based ones in flexible packaging. We are also addressing the accelerating demand for single layer packaging to replace multi-layer and de-inking technology for flexible packaging and label applications, all for increased recyclability.
Waste reduction is also a key issue that must be addressed next year and beyond. To achieve this, we believe that the whole industry needs to come together and act as one, with key vendors and suppliers making packaging sustainability a key pillar of their business.
Jeroen Diderich, vice president and general manager for label and graphic materials, North America, Avery Dennison
The past 18 months have certainly tested the resilience of our industry. From the global pandemic to raw materials shortages, cost inflation and increased demand, we have seen the importance of a strong value chain. At Avery Dennison, we are making investments to strengthen our foundation, continue to provide customers with high-quality products, competitive pricing and provide a path for more consistent service to support the growth of our customer’s business over the coming years.
In addition to investing in a more resilient supply chain, we are also focusing on innovation and sustainability. The importance of sustainability to consumers will continue to gain momentum in 2022. Through our continued focus on advancing circularity, brands and converters will have an even broader range of labeling solutions to meet their sustainability goals and new regulations.
As we look to next year, we believe that health and wellness trends will continue to drive new product growth along with ecommerce and consumer desire for convenience.
Mette Laursen, area sales manager and consumables business development manager, FlexoWash
Online communication has been of great importance in 2021 and will continue to be so in 2022. Being an international company, Flexo Wash has had to find ways to communicate with customers and agents worldwide.
Even though some exhibitions fortunately will take place in 2022 we still see the need to do virtual demonstrations and presentations of our cleaning systems next year.
Our very popular virtual Expos, where customers can have an individual session with a Flexo Wash expert in their own language, will also continue in 2022 and especially have focus on markets where travelling also next year will be difficult.
The Flexo Wash cleaning systems and service technicians are ready for another year where it is not possible to travel worldwide. Flexo Wash cleaning systems can be installed and serviced virtually and there is always a Flexo Wash representative close by to help.
Several countries have in 2021 experienced difficulties in getting the labor they need, and this will for some unfortunately continue in 2022. Therefore, Flexo Wash will in 2022 continue the focus on improving cleaning processes at printers and in that way make sure that printers can run at full speed and print at high quality.
Natália Lopes, marketing and sales, Lemorau
Every year we see a natural evolution of customer demands. Digital is becoming the future not only for printing but also for embellishment. Digital reduces the risk of errors, eliminates tools and provides a ‘clean’, easy and fast set-up.
Judging from our latest enquiries, we see a higher demand for tactile finishes. Whether achieved digitally or conventionally, customers are re-engaging with sensory label design. We are expecting to see a lot more requests for tactile solutions – with soft touch, rough textures, matte and gloss coating combinations, use of spot raised varnishes and integration of hot and cold foiling – combined with more automated functions such as automatic positioning of tools and turret rewinding, decreasing time and achieving a smarter production.
Laser cutting is also a trend that adds visual interest and minimizes tool usage.
When it comes to the pharmaceutical industry, where content must be flawless and production must be fast, we have seen – and predict a lot more of – systems that offer inspection, die-cutting, slitting and rewind all in-line.
Will Mercer, R&D director for graphics, label and board, Coveris
Sustainability will be the number one driver of label trends in 2022. This will include preparation for deposit return schemes (Scotland 2022, England 2024 TBC) in the beverage category through separable, wash-off label options to aid material recovery of PET bottles. I expect an increased use of wash-off labels in non-beverage applications, such as PET trays to reduce contamination in recycling process and improve material recovery.
The shift to monomaterial PP and PE plastic substrates as secondary label materials for application onto PE or PP primary packaging will continue to support monomaterial recycling and full packaging recovery, as well as increased demand for thinner materials that are sustainably sourced, such as UPM Raflatac RAF NXT+. With retailers looking to measure carbon assessment down to a product level in the future, demand for lighter, more resource efficient materials with extended traceability will increase.
I think we will see increased recovery of materials through new infrastructure – including Coveris’ own award-winning label recycling center.
Driven by lightweight packaging benefits as well as industry-wide cartonboard material shortages, linerless labeling might become a replacement for cardboard sleeves. Due to its fully automated application, it also offers major operational efficiencies in combination with reduced inputs to combat current labor shortages.
As brands continue to fight for shelf space, innovative embellishments that deliver a real point of difference through premiumization will be of value. Having recently invested in a Kurz DM-Jetliner at our Amberley Blandford site, we are now able to offer next generation Digital Metal in-line foiling to create custom and multiple color varieties within a single label, as well as delivering major sustainable benefits achieved via reduced originations and metallic rationalization.
Supporting the same needs as the above, new personalized and interactive enabling technologies will take labeling to the next level.
I also expect hybrid print technology, combining the benefits of conventional UV flexo together with digital capability, to achieve economies required and deliver technological advancements like the above.
The Indian packaging and labeling industry is on the way to becoming one of the predominant segments in India. According to the report ‘The Future of Global Packaging to 2022’, the demand for packaging will grow steadily at 2.9 percent to reach 980 billion USD in 2022.
Every product available for sale is packaged and labeled. Therefore, it is crucial that label design represents an extension of the brand assets of the company. The demand for aesthetic solutions has been expanding exponentially as the label design and packaging is the foremost approach to draw consumers’ attention. The labeling design can either make or break the brand.
Recyclability is undoubtedly the primary aspect one thinks of when designing a sustainable label. The growing environmental safety concerns have impacted the usage of the plastic-based materials market. However, the ever-changing dynamics of the industry and the innovation of eco-friendly packaging products has uplifted the industry and today the Indian market is competing with global standards.
Making a label recyclable involves choosing recycle-ready facestock and adhesive. Typical materials capable of being recycled are paper, polypropylene and polyethylene. A ‘wash-away’ adhesive can be removed at the beginning of the recycling stream, leaving only the recyclable base label material. Hence, much PS labelstock is being developed with wash-away adhesives.
We at Huhtamaki are committed to promoting environment-friendly products to consumers through adoption of resource and energy-efficient packaging materials and technology. By introducing circular packaging, we aim to foster economic and social prosperity through enhanced livelihoods and environmental health. Through our blueloop collaborative platform we make flexible packaging recyclable, circular and sustainable. Furthermore, our platform helps unites people from all areas of the packaging and labeling industry under a citizen mindset.
Ultimately, through the advancement of technology, companies are integrating unique security features into their packaging. With progressive and varied functionality, security labeling authenticates products, protects the company’s brand image, safeguards consumer health and safety, and reduces the risk of lost revenues and liability issues.
Kyozo Kotani, general manager, Toyobo
The working environment, however, will not be the same as pre-Covid, when face-to-face discussion was the standard – remote communication will remain as the standard. We at Toyobo will stay close to customers and markets by providing both local and remote technical services.
Sustainable development, reducing environmental impact, remains a critical agenda globally. Product development of environment-friendly packages which uses mono-material and recycled material will be the top priority for many converters.
As a photo-polymer printing plate manufacturer, we are developing plates that produce superior printing quality with these new materials. Also, we will contribute to the market with the development of products that have lower environmental impact not only for being water-washable, but also with a recycling system of wastewater.
Kapil Anand, general manager, global head specialty labels, Cosmo Films
The Indian label industry is growing at a fast yet complex pace. The industry has seen a major shift and is estimated to grow at a rate of 5-6 percent, which is one of the biggest growth rate across the world.
The largest segments in the label industry in India are wet-glue labels, but pressure-sensitive labels and flexible film labels are fast catching up across the world, and also in India.
In the last decade, the packaging industry has seen many trends come and go, but the one thing unanimously agreed upon is the bright future of pressure-sensitive labels.
Multiple trends are facilitating the growth of pressure-sensitive labels. Sustainability: in many cases, the facestock of PS labels is made from recycled material. Technological advancements have allowed companies to create special adhesives, which do not interfere with the process of recycling. Durability: not only do PS labels have a very durable finish, but they are also manufactured to last. RFID, which is an inlay that can be embedded in objects, labels or packaging and allows tracking, storing and transmitting data. Growth in anti-counterfeit labels: PS labels are mostly used in food and pharmaceutical product labeling to reduce counterfeiting by using barcodes for tracking or RFID technology. Shelf appeal: PS labels also need to offer great aesthetics as products vie for attention on the retail shelves. Growth of removable and repositionable films as facestock: these films facilitate easy removal and repositioning especially in case of beverage labeling where the machine speeds are quite high.
Geert Van Damme, managing director, Cerm
We’ve discovered how to do business remotely, so we will probably keep on meeting and training online. But the interpersonal ‘touch’ disappeared, and we all miss this. So business has changed, but we do not know yet what the new guidelines are. Instead of reaching out our hand as a spontaneous ‘nice to meet you’ gesture, we now carefully ask whether it is allowed. But some lessons learned will lead to interesting decisions. Our workflow tools, for example, were not ill and did not have capacity issues.
Many converters will invest in workflow and automation software in 2022, just as we’ve all changed from desktops to laptops and from phones to headsets.
Melissa Harton, marketing and key account manager, Acucote (part of Fedrigoni Self-adhesives)
For the first 4-6 months of 2022, we anticipate continued instability in both raw material pricing and the overall supply chain. Considering future raw material shortages and extended lead times, there is a possibility of additional price increases for our industry.
Sustainability is here to stay. As an industry, we must adapt, investigate and determine the most effective sustainable solutions for end users (based on their specific application/expectations). Converters will continue to focus on understanding sustainable terminology and trends in 2022. End user demand will drive suppliers like Acucote to offer additional thinner gauge options, sustainable adhesive solutions and certified materials when possible - e.g. APR, USDA biopreferred, FSC, etc. Corporate sustainable initiatives will also be a core focus for many of us as our customers, and their end users, expect us to use materials and methods that promote, recycle, reuse and limit the impact on the environment.
Despite the emergence of Covid boosters and increased vaccine rates, consumers will continue to expect a certain level of tamper-evidence when it comes to food and beverage services. Secure closure labels that provide consumers with evidence that the package was not tampered with after leaving the restaurant or store will continue to be desired for food packaging in takeout and delivery services.
Gene Dul, president, Schreiner MediPharm US
Prevalent trends in healthcare affecting pharma labeling will continue: e.g. supply chain integrity, patient centricity, digitalization, biotech drugs and sustainability. Labeling suppliers have to provide innovative customized solutions that are adapted to the specific application and packaging while addressing market trends and the special challenges they pose.
To support supply chain integrity and combat counterfeiting, customized security solutions have to be developed considering the threat scenario of a pharmaceutical manufacturer and the affected product, always keeping in mind the different stakeholders within the supply chain. Multi-level label-integrated security concepts, ideally combining analog and digital features, can help to support end-to-end supply chain integrity. When it comes to product integrity, regulations like the EU Falsified Medicine Directive hamper tampering with secondary packaging. However, this does not cover primary containers on unit level, e.g. vials and syringes. Here, novel solutions are required that can provide reliable tamper evidence and clear first-opening indication.
As regards patient centricity and growing self-medication, convenience and reliability of drug administration are crucial aspects. Smart labeling solutions with an integrated RFID or NFC chip can add value to the primary container or injection device while supporting the digitalization trend. A label-integrated NFC chip enables interactive applications to assist the patient during self-medication. In addition, he or she can access product information, video tutorials or specific apps, or easily perform digital product authentication to check product integrity. This enhances product and patient safety. In general, smart labels have to feature a special design that is optimally adapted to the specific application and container, also in the case of syringes and vials with tight radii. To ensure reliable readability of the integrated chips from production to end use, a flexible but robust label construction is crucial.
Grant Blewett, chief commercial officer, Miraclon
In 2022, we expect that three key trends will continue to drive the printed packaging industry forward. Converters are investing in technology and processes that will enable higher levels of on-press efficiency, running presses faster, for longer and with fewer changes. As printed brand graphics continue to become more complicated, an efficient printing platform, and adaptable plates and processes, will be essential in the packaging print toolkit. As a result, we anticipate flexo to continue making inroads into new markets previously dominated by gravure and offset. Advancements in flexo technology allow users to efficiently and cost-effectively achieve superior high-quality results while reducing delivery times and improving environmental credentials.
And with an increased demand from consumers for brands to develop sustainable packaging, this pressure is being passed onto converters who rely on technologies such as flexo to maximize press uptime, reduce start-up waste and produce the same quality print on rough or uneven – and more sustainable – substrates.
Rob Day, CEO, Tonejet
Tonejet’s customers are in the craft beverage sector, where high-quality short-run can decoration is most valued. The pandemic caused a huge shift towards the use of cans as smaller brewers rushed to move product from on-sales (packed in kegs) to retail. Having established these retail channels, brewers are unlikely to retreat from them in 2022, pushing up volumes of canned beverages.
Consumer awareness of packaging recyclability will continue to accelerate in 2022. This is driving a megatrend which sees beverage producers of all scales moving out of plastic and glass and into infinitely recyclable aluminum packaging.
As a result, the demand for beverage cans will continue to grow at 3-5 percent and the use of low-cost plastic-free direct-to-can decoration technology will become mainstream.
The biggest demand right now is in North America, but the technology providers are in Europe. Covid travel restrictions prevented Tonejet and other inkjet systems manufacturers from getting across the pond to install new equipment in 2020 and 2021. Now that those restrictions have largely been dropped, we will see several direct digital can decoration businesses in full flow through 2022.
Thomas Macina, global sales manager for labels and flexible packaging, Durst Group
The pandemic has had a significant impact on consumer behavior, and I see three to four main changes: first, consumption is short-term and unpredictable, as the sense of importance and urgency can change dramatically fast – pushed by uncertainties and external threats. Secondly, there is a de-globalization trend, so the local supply chain becomes more important. Also, individual consumption has increased significantly while collective consumption has decreased, and finally, consumers care more and more about our planet.
As a consequence, brand owners must react and are demanding their label suppliers to follow these trends as well. In other words, label converters need to have tools and processes in place to adapt quickly to the new demands, deliver long runs in the shortest possible time, cope with more and shorter runs, and implement environment-friendly solutions.
In short, I can predict the following needs for the label industry in 2022: reliability, simplicity and automation, productivity and cost efficiency to be able to deliver any label and run quickly.