Brands discuss label trends, needs, and expectations at LMAI, Mumbai

The label printing industry in India has been responding to the changing demands of brand owners. Industry players are increasingly asked to provide advanced technologies, sustainable solutions, and faster production times.

15 Apr 2024 | By Noel D'Cunha

Around 120 label printers were in attendance at the LMAI event

The Label Manufacturers Association of India (LMAI) hosted a panel discussion in Mumbai on 12 April to discuss these evolving needs and expectations. The panel included Koel Bhadra from L'Oreal, Amit Saurkar from Marico, Sanjay Ghosal from Diageo, Yogesh Bambal from Mondelez International, Prabir Das from, Mylan Laboratories, and Sainath Mane from Hindustan Unilever. 

Harveer Sahni from Weldon Celloplast moderated the panel discussion. Around 120 label printers were in attendance. Sahni asked brand owners what they sought from label printers.

Bhadra shared that when L'Oreal innovates, it focuses on three key pillars. He said, "The first is desirability because we are in the consumer business, and consumer desirability plays a big role. The second is sustainability, which is our business goal. Lastly, affordability is important because any innovation we make should be affordable for that particular segment of consumers."
Ghosal from Diageo said that the packaging industry is split into demand and supply. He said, “As brand owners, we seek label printers who can provide high-quality labels, agility, and robustness.” He explained the three requirements. "Quality is not just linked to print. It should be defect-free, too. Any rejection in the delivered product means there is a cost to bear — first, by the brand owner, then by the consumer, and eventually by those in charge of packaging and labelling — resulting in a national loss."

He added, "We expect the printers to be highly responsive, given that we operate in the fast-moving consumer space. Therefore, the turnaround time is crucial. As brands, we need to ensure repeat production, so we also make sure that the printer has reliable and robust quality control processes."
All brand owners seek high-quality colour reproduction and detailing through advanced technologies. According to Saurkar, there are combination presses, digital printing, and hybrid printing processes that combine flexography with screen, digital, and offset. "These technologies are gaining popularity because they can improve the visual appeal of labels, which is becoming increasingly important to brand owners," he said.
To a question on customisation, Yogesh Bambal from Mondelez International said that customisation on labels will continue. He said, "The scope of customisation is not limited to the food and beverage industry. It extends to other sectors. It can serve as a unique selling point, particularly during festivals like Raksha Bandhan and Diwali." Additionally, he believes there is an opportunity in the e-commerce sector to provide a personalised experience to customers.
Ghosal said, "Premiumisation plays a vital role. With the onset of digital and the push toward sustainability, occasion-centric and variable artwork will lead the change." However, Prabir Das of Mylan Laboratories felt that the pharma industry needs more design flexibility because of regulatory requirements.

During the discussion, Sahni asked about the importance of sustainability. Mane responded that sustainability is a significant consideration for brands promoting the use of substrates made from recycled materials, agri-waste, or responsibly sourced forestry products. Ghosal added that the latter refers to materials from forests that have managed to meet the social, economic, and ecological needs of present and future generations. 

Bambal stated that digital printing is a preferred option for sustainable metallisation effects and smaller-volume personalised production.
Saurkar added, "There is a rise in personalisation and customisation in food, cosmetics, and gifting. The development of digital printing and eCommerce channels enables these trends. Brands are also exploring features such as RFID that can expand digital consumer engagement, which in turn is driving innovation in the label printing industry."
However, during a Q&A session, when asked what percentage of label purchases are digital, the response was not exciting from a digital printing perspective. One brand representative said it was less than 5%, others said less than 2%, and one said zero.
During the discussion, the panellists emphasised the importance of product safety through regulatory compliance and eco-friendly printing practices, like using water-based inks and coatings and reducing waste through efficient production processes.

PrintWeek and WhatPackaging?’s Take: The label printing industry in India needs to adapt quickly to meet the evolving demands of brand owners. With brand owners placing more importance on advanced technologies, sustainable solutions, and faster production times, label printers in India must step up to the challenge. As the industry continues to evolve, sustainability and compliance will remain a top priority, which will help to reassure all stakeholders and contribute to its growth.

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