Thinking Outside, Inside and All Around the Box

While some segments of the market have been declining, eroded by alternative means of communication, other segments are seeing growth. With recipients’ email inboxes overloaded, marketers will increase spending on printed direct mail by up to 6% this year, according to marketing consultants Winterberry Group. Packaging is another growing market, presenting growth opportunities for printers of all sizes.

I.T. Strategies has recorded steady annual growth in the packaging industry, a trend it says will continue. Currently, it reports, the worldwide industry boasts $290 billion in sales. Market researchers at Visiongain expect the health-care product packaging market alone to reach $87.3 billion in 2011. PIRA International identifies personal care product packaging as a rapidly ascending market, growing from $17.5 billion to $21.4 billion globally by 2014.


Opportunities in all sizes

It is not all large volume national accounts driving the growth. Proliferation of “buy local” initiatives, cottage industries, and local brand popularity present opportunities for printers.

Multiple private labels by mass retailers and the initiation of micro-private labels by small retailers are creating opportunities in all sizes. According to the Private Label Manufacturing Association, store brands now account for one of every five items sold by U.S. supermarkets, drug chains, and mass merchandisers.

In the retail environment, specialty stocks, fluorescent ink, metallic ink, varnishes, and aqueous coatings are being employed to achieve distinction and shelf appeal. Multi-part packaging is employed to increase both brand awareness and perceived product value. A personal care product packed in a labeled jar, wrapped in branded tissue paper, and placed in a folded box is a common example.

Like other areas of print communication, there is a growing need in the packaging industry for versioned and short-run printing. Seasonal messaging, market test designs, on-package offers, and multiple language editions are just a few factors driving the trend toward versioning. At all levels, manufacturers are looking for suppliers who can provide on-demand package solutions that support inventory management and cost control.

The popularity of natural foods and personal care products has increased the demand for environmentally friendly printing methods, stock, inks, and coatings. There is also a growing trend toward more biodegradable packaging, such as replacing plastic surrounds with paper wraps or cardboard sleeves.


Short-run solution

“Presstek DI presses deliver a low cost per unit in the shorter run lengths that are growing prevalent in the packaging industry,” says Joseph Demharter, Presstek (Booth 3200) Vice President of Sales. “The ability to print a wide range of inks, including vegetable-based varieties and protective varnishes, on stock up to 31 pt. thick, make DI presses well suited to meet many of the printing needs of packaging customers.”

For high-volume printers and packaging suppliers, DI presses are a cost-effective solution for profitably meeting customers’ short-run and fast turnaround needs. DI press sizes accommodate the majority of the printed components commonly used in packaging. The 29" format Presstek 75DI handles larger folded boxes and facilitates multiple-up sheets and gang runs. Presstek 52DI and 75DI presses are available with inline aqueous coating. UV models of the 34DI and 52DI are also available.

“Our Presstek 52DI-AC press frequently operates 24 hours a day,” says Shaun Johnson, Managing Director of Potts Printing and Packaging in the U.K. “The coater adds speed and flexibility, so we can print in the morning and deliver in the afternoon.

“Because its plates are imaged on the press, the DI press has opened up capacity on our CtP machines and improved workflow to our other presses,” Johnson adds. “It has also helped the environmental side of our business. The platemaking is chemistry-free, the waterless printing reduces VOCs, and the press requires less makeready sheets and overage due to the consistent high quality throughout the run.”