Q: HB Fuller has been on an expansion drive. Tell us more about it..
A: We continue to build on our strategic position as a global leader in adhesives with 2018 driving a year of transformative growth for HB Fuller. We expanded our company’s footprint globally through recent acquisitions, including Adecol and Royal Adhesives & Sealants, and continued to invest in innovation products and in our ability to help customers connect what matters. Tapes and Labels business in India is progressing significantly, showing a double-digit growth in the past year.
Q: What is your star product at the Labelexpo Europe 2019? Is it a new launch?
A: Swiftmelt 1838, a high-performance hot melt PSA for the logistics label market is one of the products being promoted at this show. We will also showcase our water-based acrylic Fulltak SE 8116 which was recently launched this year.
Q: How is it different from what you unveiled/launched at the last show?
A: Last year we focused on our range of wash-off and removable adhesives. In this special edition of Labelexpo we are showcasing our expanded product range on all main technologies, particularly special applications for a clear-on-clear label application, as well as general purpose, such as logistic labels.
Q: What are the most significant changes you have seen compared to previous editions of Labelexpo that you may have attended?
A: Labelexpo is a great forum for sharing and learning with industry colleagues and peers, seeing what new trends are being developed and how we are all responding to the market. Certainly the 40th anniversary program and the Flexible Packaging Arena will be two very exciting news for this year. I am positive that the vibrant atmosphere and expertise we’ll find around the activities will help drive the industry discussions to the right path.
Q: What significant improvements that you would like to talk about your solutions?
A: The labelling industry is very dynamic and we are assisting in advanced technology developments to meet the different requests and trends. Our adhesives will go along that same journey. For instance, and looking at sustainability as a major global goal we’re strongly embracing into our design and production, we’ve improved the washability performance of our adhesives. This will ensure that a bottle that is both labelled with our pressure sensitive adhesives and that goes through hot or cold wash-off processes, can achieve higher recyclability purity as the bond between label and bottle will be broken completely. Another improvement is responding to the need for end-users to ensure brand integrity while also looking to differentiate their products.
Achieving a no-label look might work with several water-based adhesives but how many will retain a non-whitened appearance when immersed in water? We’ve developed Fulltak SE 8116 to ensure brand integrity until the very last use of the package.
Q: The modern e-retail has had an impact on labels. How is your company empowering their customers for that?
A: With the growth of e-retail, this means more products are being shipped and more logistic labels are needed. Additionally, direct print to the corrugated box doesn’t offer excellent scannability and logistic labels are preferred. This market increase also means faster and longer-distance transportation, so labels have to be prepared to withstand different climate zones throughout the journey. Within our wide range of products - such as the Swiftmelt 1838 that is being promoted at the show - we have solutions for even the hardest-to-bond substrate. At H.B. Fuller we take label integrity very seriously, rough surfaces, like cardboards, require a very reliable adhesion to prevent the label from peeling off during transport. Even the slightest peel-off in the corner of a label may cause the label to be misplaced, and the content of that package to lose its value, so it’s of the utmost importance that the right adhesive is selected.
Q: How much of “direct on product” print is expected to affect the traditional digital or analogue labels? Is that a version of industrialisation of print that everyone is talking about?
A: We’re seeing somehow an opposite trend, as labels are preferred over direct printing. Again, one of the reasons has to do with scannability in some substrates. Also, some companies are differentiating their products through their labels, saving costs on production as they prefer label customisation over container customization. So we can see different products within the same container but with a different label, assigning stronger importance to the label and its performance.
Q: Today collaboration is crucial in and for the business ecosystem – between customer and supplier, between different co-suppliers, between raw material supplier and machine provider, etc. How do you look at collaborations?
A: We’re a global company that knows the industry and the key players, so when our customers present us with a challenge, we look at it holistically to assess the problem and find concrete solutions. Our customers have access to our in-house coating machines in multiple EIMEA locations, enabling us to coat all three main technologies. When collaborating with us, our customers are able to widely assess the adhesive label performance on new label materials without interrupting their production lines. This creates a huge advantage to their business and foster co-creation approaches between both of us to help drive innovation with purpose. Only when synergies are created, the industry can evolve.
Q: Amazon has been championing bulk packaging until the point of consumption. As a manufacturer do you see this as an opportunity or risk evolving?
A: We don’t see this as a risk for the label market as the secondary packaging will need the same kind of logistic labels as primary packaging. In fact, this can be seen as an opportunity as usually, the primary packaging has more challenging surfaces, which requires better quality labels.
Minimalism – Today’s design mantra is – simplify, amplify and impress
Absolutely. The no-label look is a great example of it as, by keeping it simple and transparent, brand owners can create a differentiated container design that enables products to stand out on the supermarket shelf. The fact that the label keeps its clear-on-clear look, even when the container is being utilised, can lead to customer loyalty because what consumers purchase is what they get until the very last use.
Luxury packaging – Premium packaging is increasing. Labels need to stand out, somehow, anyhow
The same way the trends point to minimalism, there’s also a trend to achieve that while going for a nice-looking, premium packaging. Again, the clear-on-clear labels can impress and stand out on the supermarket shelf while being perceived less and less as labels, like something separate from the packaging.
Adjusting to anti-packaging – A movement geared towards eliminating packaging, thereby creating a more sustainable future
The Circular Economy is encouraging us all to design out waste and use resources more carefully and effectively for the sake of the planet, the people and the businesses. The current drive of elimination. Packaging is heavily slanted towards plastic packaging waste that is currently difficult or impossible to recycle. Redesigning packaging that can be reused and or recycled, but that maintains functionality such as lengthening food shelf-life, is a challenge many companies are working on. Adhesives and labels are already being part of this redesign process and a focus area for research and improvements.