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Strong growth in world demand for packaging labels is forecast for the next five years according to the latest exclusive research from Smithers Pira.

Its new report – The Future of Labels and Release Liners to 2021 – tracks how a global market valued at $34.5 billion (€31.4 billion) in 2016 will grow at an annual rate of 5.4% to reach $44.8 billion in 2021. Demand for label stock will advance ahead of that for release liners. The latter segment Smithers Pira predicts will rise from $6.36 billion in 2016 at 4.6% annually during the period 2016–2021 to reach $7.98 billion.

Reasons for growth

Smithers Pira’s analysis shows how label market growth is being driven by economic, social, demographic and lifestyle changes, including:

  • An increasing focus from brand owners on source reduction and sustainability in packaging

  • Consumer demand for convenience food

  • The growing footprint of large retail chains.

These trends are supported by the relatively low cost at which labelling can be replaced or changed and a continuing need for barcodes and other secondary packaging applications that meet a growing raft of food safety and pharmaceutical compliance issues.

No-label look

A continuing major trend is to achieve a no-label look, with high clarity plastic label materials for use on glass beer bottles, plastic soft drink and food formats, and many cosmetic and personal care packs. This clear-on-clear proposition enables the premiumisation of packaging and is spurring brands to invest in clean graphics than can stand out from the packaging.

Market splits

Within the labels market, there are different fortunes forecast for different label types. Pressure-sensitive labels are the dominant sub-segment – with a projected 44.4% share of global labels consumption by area and 63.3% by value in 2016. Wet-glue labels is the second largest category with 35.6% of global labels consumption by area and 22.8% by value. Shrink sleeve labels account for 15.1% by area and 10.6% by value. Stretch sleeves, pre-gummed and in-mould labels each account for a very low market share by area and value.

The dominance of pressure-sensitive labels will expand across the study period, with stretch and shrink sleeves also increasing their modest market shares. In contrast, wet-glue and in-mould labels will have witness average growth across the next five years, and consumption of pre-gummed labels will be virtually static.


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