Labels & Labeling’s annual ‘Predictions’ article, starting on page 46 of this issue, is always an interesting read. A cross-section of views from suppliers, converters and industry commentators, it provides an effective snapshot of the major trends, challenges and opportunities being seen in the industry.
After a year (and more) of lockdowns and travel restrictions, of supply chain disruption, raw material shortages and price increases, it is little surprise that many of the contributors to the article are concerned about how far into the new year these issues will continue.
Ongoing supply chain disruption is possibly the most frequently cited concern, though some dissenting voices believe that a tapering off of demand will see the problems begin to ease. Rising costs are also a worry, while the recruitment and retention of talented employees is an existing challenge not created by the circumstances of the past 18 months, but certainly exacerbated by them.
And yet, amid these genuine challenges, certain threads of optimism can be found. As has been written on these pages during the last year and a half, many in our industry have prospered. And existing trends, which bring with new opportunities with them, have sped up. Just as, in the general workplace, practises such as working from home and video conferencing have ramped up more in a year or two than they might otherwise have done in ten, so too is rapid progression taking place in areas such as M&A, automation, digitalization and environmental sustainability – all cited by our contributors as opportunities for growth, waste or cost reduction, and improved efficiency.
Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence garnered from conversations with companies who have signed up to exhibit at Labelexpo Europe 2022 in Brussels in April suggests that there is an impressive backlog of technological innovation on the supplier side that is bursting to unleash itself.
Advances in some of those trends mentioned above – automation, digitalization (such as in embellishment) and environmental sustainability – will undoubtedly be prominent in the halls of Brussels Expo. L&L will preview them in the next issue, our first of the new year. We look forward to seeing you in Brussels.