Digital Magazine

US Label Shipments to Grow thru 2006

CLEVELAND, OH, USA—US label shipments will expand 4.8 percent/yr through to 2006 to eight billion sq m valued at $14 billion (US), predicts Freedonia Group, the Cleveland-based industrial research firm. Its new study Labels presents this and other label product trends for the converting industry.

According to Freedonia, expanded shipments will generate demand for 2.5 billion lb of raw materials, and technologies ranging from reduced space and two-dimensional bar coding to plateless digital printing will open a range of new labeling applications. Advances in label substrates, adhesives, and coatings also will be important in this regard, but Freedonia also points out faster growth will be a cooled by a still struggling US economy and maturity in key label applications.

Other Labels highlights include:

  • While paper will remain the leading label stock, plastics will continue to make inroads. Advances will be based on the aesthetic and performance advantages of plastic labels; the growing use of plastic packaging; and the popularity of labeling methods like pressure sensitive, in-mold, and shrink, which rely heavily on plastic substrates. Oriented polypropylene (OPP) will exhibit the fastest growth among the major label resins, further supplanting polyvinyl chloride. Paper labels, by contrast, will be affected adversely by changes in the US packaging mix, which will negatively impact metal cans and glass containers.
  • Pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) labels will remain the dominant type, accounting for over two-thirds of total output. Relatively novel, fast-growing, value-added applications—like color-printed variable information labels, expanded content labels in the medical and personal care markets, and labels used in conjunction with electronic security systems—all rely on PSA application methods. As cost and speed differentials decline, PSA labels also will capture share from traditional wet-glue, gummed, and heat seal labels in packaging applications. In addition, PSA retain, essentially, uncontested control of the information processing, secondary, office, and consumer label markets, most of which are enjoying healthy secular growth.
  • Flexography will remain the primary label printing methods, with above-average gains, especially for UV (ultraviolet) flexography—supported by flexo's low cost and the ongoing development of high quality, environmentally friendly UV cured inks. Greater use of combination printing presses also is expected. In addition, label printing will continue to be revolutionized by advances in digital technologies, ranging from dedicated digital label presses to the digitalization of conventional label printing methods.

Labels (Sept. 2002, 292 pgs.) is available for $3,900 (US) from The Freedonia Group. More information is available at freedoniagroup.com or at 440/684-9600.

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