It appears the European label and packaging industry is on track for a full rebound as the world crawls out of the pandemic. However, there is some disparity across regions, according to data presented recently at the European Label Forum.
S-One Labels & Packaging recently attended the European Label Forum, presented virtually by FINAT, the European trade association for label and packaging manufacturers. The association reported 750 attendees from label and package printing companies, as well as suppliers and other organizations across Europe.
The virtual event featured in-depth technical conference sessions on the emerging trends impacting today’s label and packaging supply chain: embracing the circular economy, recruiting and retaining talent, celebrating diversity and, of course, celebrating the label and packaging community.
Opening the virtual event was a presentation by Jennifer Dochstader, a researcher for a US-based firm LPC. Dochstader reported that 2020, while volatile and unpredictable for many label converters, also proved to be a year of serious growth for many businesses.
Overall, the label industry in Europe grew about 4.3 percent last year, but some regions fared better than others. Most of Eastern Europe and some Scandinavian countries are projected to fully recover in 2021, while most central European countries will not be able to recoup losses in 2021 and could see a full recovery in 2022. Much of southern Europe, particularly Spain, Italy, and Greece, is not expected to recover until 2023.
It’s no surprise that the label markets in these areas fared well in 2020. According to LPC figures, Eastern Europe had annual sales growth of 16.3 percent, while Scandinavian countries grew at 9.2 percent and the UK and Ireland at 6.5 percent.
Dochastader’s market research of the region also surveys European label converters about what equipment they plan to purchase in the coming year. For the first time in some years, a high percentage of converters said they would purchase a conventional press.
While digital presses are still ranked high on converters’ wish lists, Dochstader theorized that the COVID-19 health pandemic was again at play here.
“What we saw in 2020 were huge surges in high-run, conventional markets. We saw high growth rates in food, beverage, household chemicals, and logistics sectors. Many, if not most, of those sub-segments tend to be more high-run segments. That’s where we saw some of the critical surges over the course of the pandemic.
“What that tells me is that European converters need capacity,” she said. “They need more capacity, and in particular, they need conventional capacity.”
After a tumultuous year it was great to connect with the label industry in this way, said Gerard Geurts, the Business Development and Technical Sales Manager for the EMEA region at S-OneLP.
“At S-OneLP, we always like to be on the forefront of education and keep informed on the latest label and packaging industry trends. What we learned at the FINAT European Label Forum is that innovation didn’t stop during 2020,” Geurts said. “If anything, the pandemic accelerated innovation across the value chain. It was encouraging to hear from label and packaging industry leaders, and we look forward to further connecting with FINAT in the future.”