International Sleeve Label Conference addresses issues across the value chain

Peachtree peach liqueur
Reynders Etiketten received an award
for its heat-shrink TD sleeve labels for Peachtree liqueur from De Kuyper
Royal Distillers.

A plethora of issues facing the sleeve label value chain were on the front burner at the AWA International Sleeve Label Conference and Exhibition held in Amsterdam this year. President and CEO Corey Reardon delivered the opening remarks to more than 120 delegates attending the two-day event.  

Reardon provided a review of the overall labeling and packaging market, showing “where sleeving fits in.” The data he presented confirmed that not only does it fit in, but today represents 19% of the total global label market. Its market share is equal to that of pressure-sensitive labels in primary product labeling. Reardon projects that the sleeve label market will enjoy a continuing healthy growth rate of 5.4% per annum.  

Reardon put sleeving in the context of growth trends across the full packaging and labeling landscape, from pressure-sensitive labels and flexible packaging to folding cartons and direct-to-container print, as well as M&A activity and industry consolidation. Sleeving covers different formats—heat shrink TD (trans-directional), stretch, ROSO MD (multi-directional) and RFS MD sleeving—and the outright winner in terms of volume, growth and popularity with brand owners is heat shrink TD sleeving. It enjoys an 89% share of the global sleeving market and is, of course, a very popular choice today in the beverage segment.

Jörg Schönwald, President of international business consultancy Schönwald Consulting, explored the ongoing success of flexible packaging in the European market as well as the challenges it faces, including the “huge variety of laminates,” which can be a problem both in production and the environment. In terms of overall flexible packaging volumes in 2018, usage was centered on the food & beverage and pet food sectors, which together absorbed 86% of the overall market. Schönwald underlined the possibilities for finding material solutions in the circular economy for flexible packaging; he also cited bioplastics, which are projected to grow 25% over the next five years but represent a tiny 1.5% of flexible packaging substrate consumption in Europe today.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of shrink-sleeve-wrapped Malibu rum

Then it was the turn of the first of the “customer voices” to be heard. Pernod Ricard Production Specialist Lucas Helferty informed attendees that his company uses "shrink sleeves to maintain our premium brand position, purchasing around 11 million shrink sleeves per year.” He detailed the case history of leading brand Malibu rum, which has benefitted from shrink sleeves in different manifestations for a number of years. Shrink sleeves, Helferty said, are the company’s choice for a number of reasons: They offer a 360⁰ printable area, which provides more flexibility to place design features and print mandatory information; print high-detail design elements; and, importantly, achieve consistent, high-visibility shelf standout.  

Pernod Ricard has also explored the latest option to drive consumer engagement and insights—the use of near field communication (NFC) and augmented reality. By embedding small, programmable NFC tags into labels, companies can create a dynamic interaction with consumers. A special version of the product’s packaging with this feature has already been launched in Germany and the UK; it will launch in the USA later this year.  

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