by Jules Lejeune, managing director FINAT
The evolution of supply and demand for self-adhesive labels is not just a matter of collecting and interpreting industry statistics and quantitative indicators. Especially in the last three to five years, macro-economic factors such as the twin crises of bank credit and sovereign debt, and the associated volatilities, have distorted the picture of underlying longer-term trends and developments. What are these underlying trends? How is the label industry positioned in the context of the broader packaging industry? What is driving demand for labels in comparison to alternative decoration technologies? What is the label printer’s share of the total added value created along the supply chain? How are continuous innovations in technology and materials helping label printers to claim a bigger share of the pie? What are the corporate strategic options to be pursued to ensure a sustainable company future?
In this article FINAT aims to address these questions and monitor relevant trends and developments.
The advent of the paper bag – the universal packaging in a 19th century grocer’s shop – created the need to identify the contents with some kind of ‘label’. This was, of course, really helpful for customers; and, since then, labels have been expanding their role in packaging, driven by legislative demands as well as the need to promote a particular brand, as the consumer society gained momentum after the Second World War.
Labels: adding convenience and versatility
Today, it is certainly true that a self-adhesive label adds value to a product’s packaging in a variety of ways: as a source of information on pack contents; as a location for barcodes and other track-and-trace and authentication devices; and as a promotion and decoration. In all these spheres, the convenience and versatility of the self-adhesive laminate have been key contributors to product packaging. They serve manufacturers across the whole spectrum of products, providing a valuable and easily-accessed tool for product development and marketing, particularly for direct-label goods – today the world’s dominant brand, and the leading driver for demand in packaging and labels.
Even in the 21st century, self-adhesive labels are adding value to products and brands in new and developing ways, around the world, in partnership with an ever-changing base of packaging materials. Label converters benefit -- almost uniquely in a manufacturing environment – from being part of a harmonised but complex value chain that embraces raw materials suppliers, self-adhesive laminators, ink, die, and other press consumables suppliers. All levels of this value chain are assisted and nurtured by the European association for self-adhesive labelling, FINAT, and its counterpart organisations around the world.
Trade associations – facilitators of global standards and best practice
As ‘umbrella’ organisations, trade associations create industry standards and drive ‘best practice’; facilitate networking, lobbying, and promotional opportunities; and provide technical and legislative updates. At a time when sustainability, food safety, and optimisation of the world’s natural resources are key criteria, uninterrupted status information on global and regional legislative issues such as REACH, is essential for everyone in the label supply chain.
After all, today’s self-adhesive label industry is increasingly global in its reach, serving the international brand owners and retailers across all their regional markets.