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Label Industry Continues To Thrive

By Susan Stansbury, Industry Consultant

On rolls or sheets, in bulk or in specialty niches and across myriad materials, label production is healthy and thriving. After all, labels bring information, identity and eye-catching add-ons to nearly every brand and product. Labels sit atop boxes, bottles, bags and packages across markets.

Crucial medical information enables pharmacists. Identity on boxes propels warehouse efficiency. Branding graphics on labels sell merchandise, with an estimated 70 percent of consumers saying that packaging and labels influence their buying decisions.

Label converters work with dozens of substrates depending on the market segment and customer requirements. One of these is Contract Converting of Greenville, Wisconsin which uses films including lightweights for “overlaminating” which is completed by customers for specialty labels; and coated papers used in pressure-sensitive “peel-off” tapes and labels. Contract Converting also has a Roll Express program to offer a large inventory of high-quality, custom slit, non-pressure-sensitive tag and label stock, and flexible packaging substrates available for shipment within 24 hours.

According to Contract Converting President Robert Saari, “Our new expansion is an important part of our growth initiative moving forward.” At the company’s Plant 2, an additional 20,000 square feet of space provides both warehousing and production. “I just accepted the keys, and we are up and running in the fourth quarter,” Saari said. “We needed to move beyond factory congestion and prepare for a new machine/warehouse platform.”

Wisconsin provides a surprising level of label industry support. The large numbers of mid-size label industry players add up. “We call this the ‘Converting CorridorTM,’” Saari said, “because of the considerable impact of label and related services, from slitting-winding, adhesives and pressure-sensitive support, papermaking and substrates available locally and regionally.”

One of these regional suppliers is Jemmco, LLC of Mequon, Wisconsin. Providing high release roller sleeves and coverings, web cleaning, and static and corona treating supplies, Jemmco makes life easier for label industry producers.

“Jemmco’s full line of roller sleeves eliminate the need for spare rolls and costly two-way roller shipping,” Melissa Lang, vice president, said. “Our FDA compliant web cleaning sleeves slide over an existing idler roller to add highly effective contact web cleaning with seamless, non-scratch benefits to eliminate the expense of capital equipment and associated costs.”

The company’s high release sleeves, anti-static offerings, dyne test products and traction sleeves add quality results, enhancing grip and release.

From Avery Dennison, to Raflatec, Mactac, Green Bay Packaging Coated Products and Belmark, collective strengths of the label industry are seen in diverse product configurations. And these are just to name a few. They use numerous types of papers, in gloss, matte, water-resistant substrates, with light to heavy weights. Clear films, metallics and the full PFFC is in play, along with stretch labels, foam labels and heat transfer labels. Track-and-trace labels are seen as a strong growth category.

Freedonia Group said that heat-shrink and stretch sleeve, and non-shrink wraparounds, will continue to expand their share of the market at the expense of more traditional label types.

Analytic reports by companies like Freedonia Group estimate the U.S. Market Size at about $42 billion in 2023, with a CAGR of 4.9 percent from 2023 to 2033. Global market CAGR is projected higher for the “smart label” marketplace. (A smart label is an item identification slip that contains more advanced technologies than conventional bar code data.)

Top markets, in order of highest to lesser segments are:

  • Food,
  • Secondary Packaging,
  • Industrial,
  • Mailing and Shipping.

Those involved in the label industry have exciting opportunities if they are able to track the complexities and apply expertise in this growing field.

About the Author

Susan Stansbury is also author of a new e-book, 14 Dinners and A Lunch (It’s not about the food! It’s Susan’s stories about decades in the industry told around a series of meals.)


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