Jules Lejeune, managing director of FINAT, the Dutch based self adhesive label industry association, on market trends

Self adhesive labelling is experiencing a high degree of competition today – though it remains the dominant technology. End users can now choose from a broad platform of different labelling technologies – not just self adhesive and wet glue, but also in-mould, sleeves, and direct print. With an increasingly international base of customers, too, label printers are of necessity competing in a wider arena, and the national borders – particularly in Europe – are being eroded. Today, in FINAT and our partner organization the European Pressure Sensitive Manufacturers’ Association, we segment Europe into regions, as opposed to countries; and the Benelux countries are at the very heart of our designated Central Region.

Slower growth

Like all of Western Europe, Central Region is not experiencing the double digit growth levels that were the norm in the self adhesive labelling industry just a few years ago. That privilege is today reserved for Eastern Europe. Central Region, according to the research findings of our ‘FINAT End User Study 2002’, commands 32 per cent of the European geographical market, with the Benelux countries taking just seven per cent of that total. Central Region as a whole enjoyed a growth in labelstock consumption in 2002 of 4.3 per cent – around the average.

As in all markets, Central Region is enjoying the most dynamic growth in film labels, especially for ‘no label look’ applications. Non paper rolls – films – grew 96 per cent in volume percentage terms across Europe between 1996 and 2002. This is a strong reflection of the desire of major consumer goods manufacturers to ‘add value’ to their packaging: it is a major influence on consumer buying. Overall, converters are turning from sheet-fed self adhesive label print to reel-fed. While there is still modest growth in self adhesive paper sheets, non paper sheets are in serious decline – perhaps as the increased flexibility and in-line capabilities of narrow web label print make it a more competitive technology for film based labels.

As the EU Packaging Waste Directive takes a hold, it is relevant that FINAT – again with EPSMA – has spearheaded a label industry waste management initiative in Europe. It has produced outstanding results in Germany, and is now beginning to show positive movement here in The Netherlands, where we expect to see a commercial market for alternative fuels within the next couple of years. This would include label release liner and matrix waste – and a scheme to collect and recycle both has been available since 1995.

We continue to encourage the other countries in Europe to follow their example, for the benefit of the environment, and the continuing healthy growth of the self adhesive label industry.

FINAT Tel: +31 (70) 312 3910 www.finat.com

Beer labels a speciality

Interesting statistics on the converting market in the Benelux countries come from consulting firm AWA Alexander Watson Associates. Last year, the company published ‘Labelling Markets: European Sourcebook — Market Overview and Opportunities for Producers and Material Suppliers’.

Says AWA principal Corey M Reardon: “Overall, the Benelux countries represent seven per cent of Europe’s total usage of self adhesive labelstock, and 15 per cent of its demand for glue applied labels. Between them, these two technologies account for over 80 per cent of the entire European label market, which remains the largest in the world. Much of the Benelux countries’ demand for glue applied labels is concentrated in the beer market; the area represents some 35-40 per cent of the European beer labelling market — mostly in returnable bottles.

“While glue applied labelling continues to grow overall in Europe at an annualized two to three per cent, and will remain a significant technology for many years to come, the beer label market is threatened by an increasing preference for cans as opposed to glass bottles.

“The maturity of the European label market is evident in slowing growth rates, and increasing pressure on margins. However, the general picture remains positive, with particularly exciting prospects in niche sectors, and scope for developments and innovation in materials, converting technologies and applications.”

AWA Alexander Watson Associates Tel: +31 20 676 2069 www.awa-bv.com