Russian Label Show Exhibits Lively Growth

The Russian LabelShow was not without whimsy; two women promoted the colors of Sericol Inks by walking the show aisles each day dressed in different outfits.

Where in the world can the packaging industry enjoy annual volume growth of 30% and more?

Russia is unquestionably one of the fastest-developing markets for packaging in the world. Since its re-orientation toward a market-based economy, the country has experienced dynamic growth in package printing, with labels — and self-adhesive labels in particular — way out ahead of the field.

Conservative estimates of label stock consumption from industry players are 25%-30% volume growth/annum. Small wonder, then, that LabelShow, the annual labeling exhibition held in Moscow, attracts a large and lively exhibitor presence, both from international suppliers to the labeling industry and from local printing and distribution companies.

Held for the seventh time in Moscow's Sokolniki Exhibition Centre March 12-16, LabelShow 2001 added some 400 extra sq m to its floor space over last year and attracted about 300 exhibitors from 25 countries. General show sponsor was the Fasson Roll Div. of Avery Dennison. The European international self-adhesive labelling industry association, FINAT, also gave the show its blessing, along with the Russian packaging association Soyuzupak.

The Old and New

The “old” print technologies still hold considerable sway in Russia as far as labels are concerned, and that was apparent at the exhibition. As labor is still a bargain in Russia, many labels are still hand-applied — and sheet-fed offset onto self-adhesives is widely in evidence, as is wet-glue labeling for the many brands of vodka that comprise Russia's major product, both for domestic consumption and export.

However, the flexibility and convenience of the modern narrow web label press is unquestionably at the heart of the labeling industry's continuing dynamic growth.

In the ten years since the Russian market opened up, a two-tier label printing industry has developed. Leading label printers such as Limaton-Kamenka, Ramm, Imagency, and Kontur+1 Service have invested in state-of-the-art presses that US companies would be happy to be able to afford, and their print output is of world-class standard. Nilpeter, Mark Andy, Comco, and Komori presses, among others, were on display at the exhibition (and attracting considerable interest).

Second-tier companies are offering a more economical service, often based on second-hand machines sold by western European printers. There is plenty of room for both, with domestic manufacturers struggling to develop profit margins and still deliver goods that meet consumers' perceptions, and manufacturers of international brands increasingly seeking to establish packaging lines and local distribution across the Russian subcontinent.

Security a Big Issue

Russia's manufacturing industry suffers from a serious problem with product counterfeiting — and this has spawned an enormous niche market for the self-adhesive label industry.

LabelShow was a showcase for every security labeling device, from ‘void’ label constructions to holograms, banknote print, thermochromic inks, watermarked and non-photocopiable substrates, latent imaging techniques, and various seals, straps, and security perforations.

Once again, vodka is the prime candidate for such brand protection, but there is considerable interest from international brand manufacturers in authenticating their products in the face of the highly active counterfeiting industry in Russia, which they estimate costs them in excess of $1 billion/yr.

Labels for thermal transfer and direct thermal variable information printing, and their attendant bar coding/catchweigh printers and applicators, were more in evidence this year than last.

The major self-adhesive label stock manufacturers were well represented, including Avery Dennison, Jackst├Ądt, and Raflatac, and while the general consensus was that the bulk of business in Russia remains on paper substrates, film label stock usage is growing fast.

Every year LabelShow is the center of a number of complementary activities, including a two-day conference on current labeling topics and the presentation of the annual label awards sponsored by Soyuzupak.

The next LabelShow will take place in Moscow in March 2002. For information contact Valentina Vishnevskaja, LabelShow 2002, Sokolniki Cultural and Exhibition Centre, 1 Sokolnichesky Val, Pav 4, 107113 Moscow, Russia.

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