Future is about 12 micron on polyester films, linerless and reseal

Noel D’cunha and Rahul Kumar of PrintWeek India caught up with Anil Kumar Sharma, managing director, Avery Dennison India, and Georges Gravanis, vice-president and general manager, materials group, Asia Pacific, Avery Dennison.

22 Dec 2014 | By Rahul Kumar

PWI: Being a labelstock manufacturer, where do you see the Indian label industry?
Anil Kumar Sharma (AKS): When you talk about pressure-sensitive labels, it stands at 0.3 sq/m per capita consumption. The market is doing well, as compare to the GDP growth rate. However, the economy has been a challenge for the last nine to 12 months. There is growth in the pressure-sensitive space, but at a slightly slower pace. Being a part of the industry, our focus is on bigger opportunities in the market. Our main focus is to expand the market with converters and their customers.

PWI: So, in the context of Avery Dennison, what are the numbers?
AKS: We cannot give you a number, but we are growing. We have seen a fairly good growth rate, more than the market growth rate, in the last one year. Our main focus now is to expand the pool since opportunities are available.

PWI: Bullish?
AKS: Our continued investments show how bullish we are about the Indian market. We have invested in a knowledge centre, and a R&D facility in Pune. We are doing everything required by our customers.

PWI: What have the global labels market been like after 2007-08?
Georges Gravanis (GG): 2010 had been great for everybody. After the market went down because of the crises. Since then, GDP growth in America and Europe has been one to three per cent, depending on year to year. So, in the mature markets, the label industry saw single-digit growth. There has been lot of expectations from the emerging markets. These markets will continue to grow more than three to four per cent, as compared to the mature market. Countries such as Latin America, most of the Europe and most of the Asian countries, excluding Japan and Australia, will see significant growth for the five to 10 years to come. Thus, we are investing not only in manufacturing capacity, but also in R&D.

PWI: Considering the world trends in food, beverage, pharma and cosmetics, what is that India is not doing?
GG: The trends in food and beverage are the same. Both the segments have lowest penetration of PS labels. Thus, opportunities are high. We will also see other technologies like shrink sleeves for beverages. Most of the emerging markets will have more and more packaged food in future. This will have a great impact on our business. Labels are required for most packaging. As retail becomes more organised, the demand for labels will increase.

PWI: What about print applications?
AKS: The pertinent question is what is the ratio of consumption of packaged food and beverages as compared to fresh food and beverages? As consumption grows, the market will automatically start to expand. The process of growth in packaged food is different compared to other markets. Investments will flow into packaged food processes like cold chains and logistics and track and trace will increase. India is typically a single unit pack consumption pack market. When the retail market is organised, the size of consumption market will also increase. It will lead to newer kind of solutions.

PWI: Your view on reseal label?
AKS: Reseal label is the best solution. It will help the growth of bigger packs and it will allow the brand to stay in customers’ shelf for longer. 

PWI: What you are saying sounds exciting, but, what about the label converters?
AKS: First, the capability of Indian converters is among the best in the world. They are extremely enterprising and extremely tech-savvy. Yes, there are areas to improve, but you will find such areas everywhere. So, I don’t see any challenge from the point of view to providing the solution. What is happening right now is that a lot of people are focusing on productivity and a lot of people are focusing on differentiating their ideas. Converters are converting with innovations, incorporating new ideas with labels, colour ideas, security ideas and so on. Now, it is our duty to provide them the material which can help them use and implement their ideas.

PWI: What are these new ideas and innovations?
AKS: We are looking at new products. Take a product or material which is in the market from last 20 years, and shake it with new ideas, and something new will emerge. For example, a new film stock can be used differently. We will have to change the face of functionality. Innovation can come from any space, whether it is pressure-sensitive or liner.

PWI: Give us an example.
AKS: Thus, we have introduced 12 microns on polyester films. It is a new idea and a time will come for it. The idea is to keep pushing the envelope.

PWI: What about the success of 12 microns in production?

AKS: Every new thing takes time to catch on. About the 12 microns film, I think, printing capability on it is okay. What the industry really needs to work on is the finishing segment. The industry has to consider sustainability, and understand the need to go for thinner labels. Th need will come from the industry and we are here to resolve it. Different requirements need different time to arrive at a solution. We are ready with any kind of demand and challenge. That’s what we have been doing in India for the last eight years.

PWI: There has been a lot of buzz about linerless label. Any updates?
GG: We have linerless solution for cartons and brown boxes. There are some challenges though.

PWI: Is it the future?
GG: It is on the table. Every new thing will be successful if it improves the way converters print, convert and dispatch in a cost-effective manner. At this stage in linerless labels, you have to add intermittent steps. We have been developing thinner materials to reduce waste as much we can. 

PWI: There are other things happening in India, such as multi-layer (booklet) labels. Being a labelstock manufacturer, how important it is for you, in terms of application and thickness?
AKS: Booklet labels have specific needs. It is especially suitable in agri-pharma business and pharmaceuticals business. On the technology front, we are ready. The only issue is how much a brand owner wants to share in the label, following the regulatory authority. If a brand owner wants to provide more information, it will grow like other segments of label printing. Ultimately, it depends on the size and flow of information.

PWI: We have seen many labels in samples collected during the PWI Awards. We have seen beautiful and simple labels, with three colour printing, and we have also seen labels with no less than six colours.
AKS: I am not surprised. The kind of hard work Indian converters have done, they deserve the praise. We see more and more innovations. Given the right environment and set-up, the Indian industry is definitely capable to make an impact on the global level. That’s why we are putting money in research and development in India.

PWI: Substrates for digital and flexo?
AKS: We are equally capable of producing substrates for any printing technology, not just in India, but across the world. Flexo has a large base and digital is growing well. It is not a limitation for us, but an opportunity.

PWI: But we did not see many digital printing presses in Labelexpo India 2014.
AKS: From the Indian perspective, many printers have opted for digital, and many are waiting to see results. Adoption of digital technology is not a question, the question is how soon and at what level it will be adopted. The gap between digital and narrow-web is becoming narrower. A similar situation occurred between letterpress and flexo a few years ago, and finally flexo became the popular technology. There is a space for both the technologies, and both will exist as they fulfill specific needs of the market.

PWI: Something to do with business model in Europe…
GG: No. It all depends on how Indian converters react. Digital printing presses are quite expensive, not just the purchase, but also to run it. There is a lot of fragmentation in Indian converting community. They start with very basic infrastructure and cannot expand fast. It will take time, but they will eventually expand. At the same time, manufacturers are investing in new ideas. For example, Gallus has launched a combination press. But the fact remains that a new technology comes with higher initial cost.

PWI: What’s new in last 24 months?
AKS: There have been many new things. Every market has specific requirements. PE-based labels have been in the market from a long time and very little innovation is happening on this front. Polyester labels have reached to a level from where going to the next level is a challenge.

A lot of innovations are happening in the field of adhesives. We are looking at a new technology for adhesives so that labels can be clearer. Functionality of adhesives has been changed. For example, we are looking at holographic-base HPCL. As the auto market grows, the tyre market is also growing, and we have introduced a bigger portfolio for wet cells (batteries). We also have good technology in making films, such as polyethylene and polypropylene, material, material science and combination of different materials. We have also launched blood bank labels. We have been launching 12 to 15 products per year. That is why we are growing fast.

PWI: Competition with Indian labelstock manufacturers?
AKS: We do not have any competition with Indian manufactures. The industry is vast and there is a place for everyone. Innovation is the way forward.

PWI: Apart from asking them to use Avery material, what advice would you give to label converters?
GG: I would ask them to focus how they can produce better compared to their competitors. I have seen people who start production without any focus. Being in a significantly growing country, it is not a challenge, but after a certain time, they have to focus where they want to grow.