Noel D’Cunha (ND): Can you give us an overview of the show?
Jade Grace (JG): The show this year will be the largest edition of Labelexpo India to date. We have many new presses on the show floor this year. Visitors can expect interesting innovations in inks and substrates with more emphasis on sustainability. Companies with new products include Alliance Printech, Atul Papers, Avery, DuPont, GEW, Konica Minolta, Manroland, Monotech, Multitec, Nilpeter, Omet, PGI Technologies and Vinsak.
ND: You have moved from Pragati Maidan in New Delhi to Noida. Why this move?
JG: The facilities in Noida are far superior. With the show maturing and therefore needing more demands on infrastructure, India Expo Centre was a better fit. Some exhibitors and visitors were concerned about the ease of getting there but we are providing excellent transport links. There have been highly successful events like PrintPack and Auto Expo already taking place at Noida. So it’s a natural step for Labelexpo India.
ND: Labelexpo was all about labels. That seems to have changed.
JG: Not really. Labelexpo remains true to its roots, which is print and production of what labels a product. Perhaps the definition of what a label is within the industry is changing, with flexible packaging and folding cartons becoming more prevalent. This reflects on the show floor across all Labelexpos.
ND: This year, we are seeing a few big names missing...
JG: All our key exhibitors, who have always exhibited at Labelexpo India, are at the show, barring one or two. We don’t foresee our visitors noticing any differences really to previous shows other than the show this year has more exhibitors.
Ultimately, it depends on each exhibitor as to whether a particular geographical market works for them or not and with the Labelexpo series, they have a broad platform from which they can choose.
ND: Labelexpo Europe in Brussels is a must-go show for most Indian printers. Will other Labelexpo shows like the one in India remain the second choice?
JG: The Labelexpo series is a global platform for all our exhibitors and visitors alike. Labelexpo Europe is indeed our largest show with over 35,000 visitors and it attracts around 200 Indian label printers. Labelexpo India, on the other hand, sees over 8,000 Indian visitors. So it is definitely not the second choice for majority of printers in India.
ND: Why should label as well as packaging players visit Labelexpo India?
JG: Simply put, Labelexpo India is for anyone who has anything to do with packaging or labels. Printers increasingly have to diversify and hone their businesses to move with market demand, whether it is investing in digital to cater to more personalisation or variety in print run, or to improve the finished product’s overall quality and shelf appeal. The exhibition covers everything to do with labels, flexible packaging and folded cartons. So it is a Mecca for printers, brand owners, designers and wider industry suppliers. Also, for those Indian and South Asian-based printers who did not manage to get out to Drupa earlier in the year, this year’s Labelexpo India will certainly give food for thought with the chance to see a wide range of new technologies and solutions that have entered the market place in a short space of time.
ND: Is it true that the runs for labels are growing shorter and the SKUs bigger? What are the reasons attributed to this change?
JG: Label printers are converting both volume and relatively shorter runs. There is a difference in the supposedly short runs in India and European countries though. Having said that, it is a consumer driven market in the sense that the labels are put on products on the shelf. Today, consumers demand variety. For example, people used to buy only regular black tea in the Indian market a few years ago but today you see a variety of tea concoctions available. This shift in consumer consumption indicates the trends in the Indian label industry.
ND: You are in constant touch with the label fraternity in India. What is the mood?
JG: The mood is positive. Margins are a slight issue, so there are many initiatives associations are doing through their workshops and seminars. However, everyone is aware of the growth and potential of the market and this is keeping the industry extremely buoyant and positive.
ND: Before the advent of digital, the question was whether it is letterpress, offset, gravure or flexo. What has been digital’s impact on the label industry?
JG: Digital is catching up in India with more presses being installed in the country and an increasing number of label printers evaluating an investment in the next few years. As Hemanth Paruchuri of Pragati Pack said at the LMAI Conference in Jaipur in 2015, companies need to focus on their marketing strategies to drive digital label printing. The return on initial and recurring investment in digital technology also scares some label printers. Digital, in my opinion, will not replace flexo or letterpress or any other label printing technology. When utilised and marketed well, it is being used as a good complementary technology for label printers in India and overseas.
ND: There is a theory that print tradeshows are focussed too much on technology rather than applications. Your view?
JG: Several exhibitors at Labelexpo India are running live demonstrations at the show floor this year. It is a regular feature at Labelexpo Europe and Labelexpo Americas. Tradeshows are meant to show new application-based technology to drive the market forward. It has to be a good mix of both – technology and applications.
ND: Talking about technology, vendors are showcasing equipment with similar technology. Take, for example, the flexo presses. Other than the speed and width, rest of the configuration is just the same. Is that a concern?
JG: Absolutely not. There are so many intricacies in the set-up of a press and each press provides its own special ability to apply a unique effect to a label. Each vendor also prices their machinery differently offering varying levels of customisation. The day we do not provide choice and variety in the market is the day we see the end to technological advances.
ND: Do you think that the demand for such technology is enough to support the number of vendors now flooding the market?
JG: Market forces are naturally dictating the landscape for us – we are seeing mergers and acquisitions, as well as many new manufacturers in certain sub-sectors of the industry, which reflect the growth and highlight the demand for technology within that area of label and packaging printing.
Labelexpo India 2016
Dates: 17-20 November, 2016
Venue: India Exhibition Centre, Greater Noida