A new study from Freedonia predicts that US label shipments will increase by 4.8 per cent per annum through 2006, to 8 billion m2, valued at $14 billion. Technologies ranging from reduced space and two dimensional bar coding to digital printing will open a range of new applications. Advances in label substrates, adhesives and coatings will also be important.

Even faster growth will be prevented by a cooling US economy and maturity in key label applications. Competition from direct printing will also hold down gains in applications such as mailing, primary packaging and corrugated box labelling.

While paper will remain the leading labelstock, plastics will continue to make inroads. Advances will be based on the aesthetic and performance advantages of plastics labels; the growing use of plastics packaging; and the popularity of labelling methods like pressure sensitive, in-mould and shrink, which rely heavily on plastics substrates.

OPP will exhibit the fastest growth among the major label resins, further supplanting PVC. Paper labels, by contrast, will be adversely affected by changes in the US packaging mix. Pressure sensitive adhesive labels will remain the dominant type, accounting for over two-thirds of total output.

As cost and speed differentials decline, they will also capture share from traditional wet glue, gummed and heat seal labels in packaging applications, according to Freedonia.

More from Corinne Gangloff on +1 440 684 9600. Email: pr@freedoniagroup.com