Labels: A Rs 3000-crore market - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

It's the best of times, it's also the most uncertain of times. The US recovery is gaining steam even as Europe’s debt-burdened economy is breathing some life. The grim news is that the currencies are plunging in the emerging world and in some, the investors are fleeing.

11 Sep 2015 | By Noel D'Cunha

Experts in India see this as a short term uncertainty, and say that India is still a strong economy among the emerging markets. That means there is little to worry for the Indian print industry, labels and packaging in which, have been the growth stories.
According to estimates, world label demand will rise 4.9% per annum to 58-billion sq/m in 2018. In value terms this is equal to USD 114 billion. The Asia Pacific region will be the fastest growing market, due to the continued rapid expansion of Chinese and Indian label demand.
Closer home, the Indian label printing industry is bullish about the growing market. According to a study, at present, the Indian per capita consumption is estimated to be 0.25sq/m equivalent to 30-cr sq/mtr, and a market size of Rs 3,000-crore. It’s a growing market. And the label printers need to do everything they can to seize the opportunity.
But there are challenges, and growth cannot be sustained without looking at the future, where investment in technology will become a critical ingredient, which only a few have taken benefit of.
And when one talks of technology, the spotlight for labels will be on Labelexpo Europe 2015, the biggest label show so far.
Gururaj Ballaward of Wintek Flexo said that technology in label machines has remained the same with the technology revolving around permutations and combinations – so you are adding features that are available, to the conventional, in print and finishing. He, however, expects to see more machines with such hybrid technology and variants at the Labelexpo Europe 2015.
That is what will happen. There are hybrid models from FFEI’s Graphium, Gallus’ DCS340, Omet’s JetFlex and Mark Andy’s Digital Series, where digital and conventional print and converting operations are carried out in one pass. There are challenges though, like, matching conventional print capabilities with a digital engine, matching a flexo spot colour with the digital CMYK. All this will require sophisticated workflows.
Plus there’s a range of finishing systems, including kits from digital manufacturers, who have added inline finishing as an option. One will see laser die-cutting added to create a fully variable converting system that will eliminate the need to change die-cutting plates. Durst, EFI and Domino are some of such manufacturers.
In the label segments, we have already seen Indian installations plus announcement of new investments from Gallus, Mark Andy, Lombardi, MPS, Omet, HP Indigo, and Epson. 
Movements in folding carton space
The global folding cartons market valued at USD 140,000 million in 2012, continues to grow and is forecast to be worth USD 184,000 million in 2018, and will consume almost 47-million tonnes. The market will be dominated from the Asia-pacific sector, with growth in demand from China, and India to a large extent.
Technology trends include retail ready packs in microflute, anti-counterfeit systems and barrier coating.
The Indian folding carton space is poised to take advantage of this growth and hence the spotlight is on investment. There have been a slew of investments in the last few months.
TCPL launched its Guwahati operation with investment infrastructure and equipment, which included a press and finishing kits; and Parksons Packaging, Any Graphics, Surya Fresh Foods, Rave Packaging, DJS, Galaxy, Nova Publication, and PR Packaging investing in presses and post-print equipment.
In the Label & Packaging Supplement, published with the September issue, information on 100+ kit to look out for at the Labelexpo Europe 2015 is available. Plus there are features on food packaging, and UV inks. Get an inside information of what’s happening at the HP Indigo Israel plant and an interaction with Pratham’s Datta Deshpande.
By the way, my colleague Rahul Kumar and I will be travelling to Brussels to attend the Labelexpo Europe show. We will be more than happy to meet and interact, even if it's post-show, sipping some of the home grown Belgian beer.