A thirst for labels

13 April 2010

The beverage market was the third largest sector (after food and retail) for self-adhesive labels in Europe during 2008, according to an end-user market survey and industry report commissioned by FINAT, the international trade association for the self-adhesive label industry. A total of 430 million m2 of self-adhesive materials were consumed on bottling lines across Europe in 2008. During the period 2005 – 2008 the beverage segment was also one of the fastest growing markets for self-adhesives – driven primarily by growth in premium and export beer sales.

Selfadhesive is the dominant label technology in the European product decoration market, with 45% (5,300 m2) of all label materials consumed in 2008, compared with glue-applied (41%), shrink sleeving (7%) and in-mould (3%). In all, 10% of all self-adhesives were used for beverage labelling in 2008.

Innovation in finishes such as metallic, tactile, gloss and matte, is in part what is driving the market. “The ‘no-label’ look is a good example of the type of innovation being adopted by the global brands in both the beer and spirit segments,” says Andrea Vimercati, president of FINAT and sales manager of Pilot Italia, a family-owned self-adhesive label printer. ‘But it’s not just the big global brands that are benefiting from the technology. Comparatively small print runs actually favour self-adhesive labels, making it easy for converters to quickly adapt label content for smaller premium microbrewers.”

There are also new growth opportunities in the high-value spirits end of the market. The secondary packaging and security features – required to prevent tampering and provide proof of authenticity – offer growth potential for self-adhesives in the segment. Holograms, security and other anti-theft devices can easily be built into self-adhesive labels, extending the value of the label well beyond promotion.

The report also highlights some challenges and opportunities facing the self-adhesive industry. Technical challenges related to the removal of labels on returnable bottles are already being addressed collaboratively by the major laminators and label converters around the globe.

The beer sector has also traditionally invested heavily in glue applied application equipment because of its lower cost and comparatively faster labelling speed. However, as existing equipment moves into retirement, bottling plants will start to invest in more up-to-date modular, rotary label applicators, says the report. This will open up opportunities to add decoration options by including a selfadhesive module.

So is the forecast rosy for the sector? Not entirely: short term predictions are flat, due mainly to the existing installed base of glue applied labelling lines; while mid to long term the forecast is for modest growth.

Maureen Byrne

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