Label markets set for steady growth

The label printing market is set to expand at an average of 2.8% year on year to yield a total value of $39.50 billion in 2022.

Exclusive provisional data from the Smithers Pira report The Future of Label Printing to 2022 shows that in 2017 this market is worth $34.46 billion globally. Over the next five years, market growth will expand at an average of 2.8% year on year to yield a total value of $39.50 billion in 2022. 

This contrasts with an annual growth rate of just 1.2% in the wider print market, as traditional end-use applications see margins eroded by electronic media. Labels, like packaging are more resilient in the face of this threat, and there is still significant commercial potential especially in newer markets where population are still making the transition to buying more labelled products.  

With over 465 billion A4 sheet equivalents in 2017, Asia is today 46% of worldwide label market by volume. Above average growth will push this to 48% by the end of the Smithers Pira study period. The only region with higher annual expansion across this period is the nascent African market, but even by 2022 it share will be less than 4% of global supply.

There is still potential for new business in mature markets however. Both the US and EU are set to implement new labelling obligation for pharmaceutical supply chains. In the latter case this is occurring via the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), which will be introduced in Europe in 2018. It will require each individual pack to carry a prescribed unique identifier in a prescribed 2D data matrix format. Tamper evidence features, which are often integrated into label materials for packaging like folding cartons – will also be mandatory under this law.

Narrow-web label printers have pioneered the use of digital (toner and inkjet systems) across the past decade, and this trend is far from exhausted with new high volume machines be launched every year. The value share of digital printing is now 29.3%, up from 20.8% in 2012 – this will rise to 35.6% in 2022. In volume terms the shares are lower 13.0% in 2017, and 17.9% in 2022 – reflecting digital’s concentration in shorter run, higher value applications.

Many print service providers are now adopting a hybrid working approach and progressively channelling work onto digital presses as their productivity increases and the average run lengths demanded by customers declines.

Significantly within digital the growth rate for toner printing will be relatively low around 1.0% per year, while the value of inkjet work will grow at 16.5% per year across the same period. For analogue presses reasonable expansion is predicted for sheetfed and coldest litho; although the later process is confined to higher volume low value prints.

Within its analysis of label formats, Smithers Pira shows that pressure sensitive labels are the dominant product. These have a 58% market share by value in 2017; and above average growth will see this increase progressively across the next five years. There will also be new demand for sleeves and in-mould labels, while the market share for wet-glue labels will fall. 

All the important developments in labelling printing across the next five years are analysed in depth and quantified by end-use application, label format, print process and geography in the forthcoming Smithers Pira report The Future of Label Printing to 2022.

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