Labels: Adding Value to Packaging
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?
This article will 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, helpful for customers, and since then, labels have been greatly expanding their role in packaging.
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 bar codes and other track-and-trace and authentication devices; and for 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.
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 harmonized, 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 self-adhesive labeling associations, such as Europe’s FINAT, and other counterpart organizations around the world.