The flexible package printing market is growing, even in light of our global economy’s uncertain future. In 2008, shipments of printed packaging totaled about $79.7 billion in North America alone. Out of that total, flexible packaging made up about $28 billion, according to a recent study commissioned by the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization (PRIMIR). PRIMIR estimates that, by 2013, flexible packaging shipments will grow to $31.1 billion dollars in the United States.
Globally, flexographic printing makes up about 60%—which translates to roughly $260 billion—of the world’s $440 billion printed packaging market. As countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China continue to develop, the demand for pre-packaged foods and other goods, and in turn, the flexible packaging needed to contain those goods, will likely grow.
Here in North America about 92% of label printers currently use flexographic printing in their pressrooms. Over the past few years, advancements in quality, shortened run lengths, and lower costs have given flexographic printing the advantage over traditional rotogravure.
This is all good news for companies like Bobst Group North America (Booth 3638), which last year unveiled its Masterflex-HD flexo post-printer. In addition to providing flexo printing on corrugated board, microflutes, and heavy solid board, the Masterflex-HD system uses unique color separation technology to deliver full-color images on recycled board. Working in tandem with Bobst’s iQ300 quality control system, this technology gives companies unparalleled control over the imaging on their packages.
New Jersey-based Beta Industries (Booth 4432) offers high-tech, digital flexographic quality-control solutions. The Betaflex Pro Flexo Plate Analyzer measures all types of transparent flexo plates, digital masks, halftone films, offset plates, and color prints. It then uses automatic data collection, plotting, and statistical analysis to keep the operator informed and the process on target.
Packaging as brand management
As the flexible packaging market continues to grow worldwide, controlling your customer’s image and branding will become more important than ever, especially on the international stage.
“Packaging is critical to brand management,” says Bob Leahey, an Associate Director at InfoTrends, a market research and strategic consulting firm. “So meeting the needs of brands is the core objective of package printing. It is [the] brand owners who decide print strategies.”
Smart flexible package printers will want to keep their eye on flexography developments. PRIMIR’s report ends with a premonition: “As flexo press, ink, plate, and prepress technologies continue to raise quality and print consistency standards, run size trends and total applied cost benefits continue to position flexo as a process that will increasingly capture gravure market share in every global region.”