Rarely has a new year been so hotly anticipated. After such a challenging 2020, it is no wonder that the arrival of 2021 – with its promise of vaccines, mass testing, and a return (we hope) to some degree of normality – is so eagerly welcomed.
Our annual series of articles looking at developments in various global label markets during the past year is, understandably, dominated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is the unavoidable thread that binds the pieces together, and as such some recurring themes emerge.
During the initial – largely global – lockdown beginning in March, economic activity plummets. However, many label converters – serving industries such as healthcare and food – see their customers increase orders as consumers stockpile essential goods. The converters adopt strict health and safety measures to protect employees, and respond with impressive alacrity and agility to highly challenging circumstances.
The knock-on effects of the damage to many of the world’s economies are still unquantifiable. But we are fortunate to be in an industry rightly deemed as essential. Converters are printing labels, and they are buying equipment, as a brief glance at the installations section of labelsandlabeling. com will testify. Machinery manufacturers have adapted to remote installations and technical support. Some software developers and suppliers of consumables have reported record sales.
There have been tremendous challenges, but, heading into the new year, there is cause for optimism. As Ronaldo Mello, head of Avery Dennison’s label and graphic materials business in Latin America, notes in this issue, some major Covid-induced (or Covidenhanced) trends – such as more cleaning, and the huge growth in e-commerce – are positive for the label industry.
In our Predictions for 2021 article in this issue, there are some words of caution from our contributors. But there is also a great deal of optimism for the direction in which the industry is headed – a greater focus on environmental sustainability; increased automation; more efficient and less wasteful production. All these things can help to ensure a sustainable and profitable future for the sector.
Label converters and industry suppliers have both shown tremendous resourcefulness this year. We wish all our readers, advertisers and industry friends all the very best for the new year, and look forward to seeing you in person – at Labelexpo, if not before. And there’s another reason to be positive.