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In mold labeling (IML) continues to lag behind Europe, where demand for IML is 60% compared with 22% in North America.

Clare Goldsberry

December 6, 2016

2 Min Read
Label and labeling market growing, according to AWA report

At the recent AWA IMLCON and IMDCON event held in Rosemont, IL, last month, AWA Alexander Watson Associates President Corey M. Reardon had mostly good news for the label and labeling market. From AWA’s most recent survey, Reardon noted that the food industry represents the largest market segment for in-mold labels (IML). Household chemicals are second and the beverage industry is third.

Over the next three years, the food market for the in-mold label segment is expected to grow by 2.3%, with household and industrial chemicals market seeing growth of 1.9% and 3.6%, respectively, according to AWA.

IML in North America continues to lag behind Europe (specifically Eastern Europe and Russia) in application use. Reardon said the survey shows that growth in IML in North America is 2.6% overall and “is probably realistic.”

The real growth driver for IML is the Asia Pacific market region, which Reardon said will continue to drive the global market, but at a declining rate from 8% growth five years ago. “Europe has long led the world in IML,” Reardon noted, “with demand for IML at 60% compared with 22% demand in North America.”

Reporting on the global and regional label markets, Reardon noted that different regions of the world have differences in label types due to consumer preferences. On the supply side, the label market is “fairly consolidated,” Reardon reported. On the demand side, there are different application segments due to a lack of homogeneity. “Flexible packaging is growing at a greater rate, replacing rigid containers in many applications, which is replacing the need for labels through direct printing onto the packaging,” he noted. “There is a lot of volume in that packaging without labels.”

IML is replacing direct print (i.e., printed directly onto the packaging) because it offers better appearance; however, said Reardon, developments in digital direct printing are making it an area that needs watching as a competitor to IML, which sits alongside pressure sensitive and direct print labels.

As for thermoform IML (IML-TF), Reardon said he didn’t have a good picture of this segment. IML-TF is “an economic play that needs brand owners to take that step,” said Reardon. Barrier IML is seeing more applications for this technology going forward and there are significant growth rates in this segment, which is being co-developed with brand owners to achieve the desired results.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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