SMI Labels and Packaging Materials

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Indians, busy at Labelexpo Europe 2011

Six years ago in 2005 when Weldon Celloplast Limited exhibited at Labelexpo in Brussels, they were the only one Indian exhibitor at the show. Indian visitors at that show were in quite a few numbers but looked more like tourists using Labelexpo as a reason to travel to Europe. They were visible walking around leisurely in the walkways more like window shopping with casual interests. They would drop by at some stands, make enquiries and then move on. Neither were they taken seriously by the high profile exhibitors displaying their expensive equipments nor were they sure of their expansion plans. The world attention was getting to be more concentrated on this huge market with a growing young and literate workforce creating high demand for consumer products. The Indian label market was obviously heading for phenomenal growth. Six years down the lane a lot has changed. Indian label printers have become a confident lot as they are more focused and sure of the path that they wish to traverse in an effort to meet the growing and exacting demands for labels. From a mere one Indian exhibitor in 2005, the 2011 show opened on 28th September 2011, as the largest label show on earth with fourteen Indian exhibitors, up from four in the previous show in 2009. As for the visitors, the Indian label printers have become a sought after segment for the exhibitors. These printers are now transformed into committed buyers, they are seen as business persons with firm plans to empower their companies with the latest printing technologies available anywhere. Instead of being seen as window shoppers in the walkways they were now engaged in serious discussions in the stands of leading material, toolings and equipment manufacturers. No wonder then that a gentleman walked up to me at the exhibition to say, “Not many Indians this time!” I could not answer immediately as at that time even I was wondering why. Earlier this year on the 5th of January 2011 I had predicted and tweeted on twitter, “Labelexpo Brussels will probably see the biggest number of Indian visitors. Indicates high growth in narrow-web label segment. My prediction!”. I started to look around to evaluate the situation myself. I was pleasantly surprised that the Indians, though not visible walking around, they were short of time to cover the most. They were in deep engrossing technical discussion at various stands across the show, meeting prospective suppliers of materials, toolings and equipments. My prediction made at the beginning of this year was true and had become a reality. Michael Hatton, Marketing Director- Labelexpo confirmed to me that in 2009 there were 338 Indian visitors and this figure had swelled to 429 at Labelexpo Europe 2011. There were more Indians then before and the reason that they were not visible waking around is, “They were busy at Labelexpo Europe 2011”.

True to the claim that Roger Pellow and his team made in the pre-show promos, Labelexpo Europe 2011 held from 28th September- 1st October 2011 at Brussels, was the biggest and most successful labelshow in the world till date. The show reported 28636 visitors from 118 countries which is an 18.6% increase over the previous show. The number of exhibitors grew from 544 to 550. It indeed was the largest show in the history of this 30 year old Labelexpo. Adding to the success is the fact that over 81% of the space for next Labelexpo is already booked. The Labelexpo team has been continuously innovating to bring value to visitors patronizing this prestigious show. Besides ensuring a huge number of working presses and equipments, new features like the Digital Printshop and the Package Printing Zone are endeavors to expand the horizon and vision of label printing companies. Most of the exhibitors to the show appeared to be satisfied with the results however some of the exhibitors in Hall 12 felt that due to the sheer size of this growing event and the increasing number of exhibitors, enough visitors did not reach them in the numbers that they were seen in first few halls. For this reason there is a strong debate that the show should be extended for one more day in future. Some exhibitors also aired the view that the venue should be moved to another location in Europe. Personally I feel such specialized events are linked to particular venues and cities and moving them may become counter-productive. Anyway it is for the organizers to decide but as for now the next Labelexpo will still be at Brussels.

Roger Pellow & Jade Grace of Labelexpo Group
with Raul Sylvestre of Lartec
End of the show quotes are an important part of any show and indicates the level of success it has achieved. Many exhibitors have expressed their satisfaction at the show. Jakob Landsberg of Nilpeter expressed, “Labelexpo Europe 2011 was more successful than we dared to hope for. In the current financial climate, our industry looks forward more optimistically than the rest of the world” UPM’s representative echoed similar views, ”Despite the challenging economic situation surrounding Europe these days, Labelexpo Europe 2011 nevertheless brought out the collective drive and enthusiasm in the industry. We saw plenty of people poised to push the label to the limit and we liked that!” Gavin Jones, Tectonic International Ltd said: “Labelexpo Europe is always a great shop front for our range of products and this year was no exception!” Cristina Toffolo of Gidue reports success with their innovative product range. In words of Jason Oliver Sales Director, EFI, “I’d simply say that we at EFI Jetrion were completely overwhelmed by the show.” It was heartening to see Ranesh Bajaj of Creed Engineers and Pawandeep Sahni of Weldon proudly beaming when Rotatek and Omet put up the signs on the presses displayed at their stand as sold to their customers in India. Rotatek was sold to Update Prints in New Delhi and two Omets were sold, one to Unique offset Mumbai and the second to Arunodaya Hyderabad. Other press suppliers may also have finalized deals for India but they did not respond to my email requesting information. Leading press manufacturers like Gallus, Mark Andy, Omet, MPS, Edale, Delta Industrial, Orthotec, etc had well attended stands and all felt that the show delivered the desired results. Ajay Mehta of SMI, the leading Indian Labelstock manufacturer is overwhelmed by the quality of visitors at his stand, he felt it was the right platform for his company to find recognition in the international markets. Young KD Sahni at Weldon feels his new and innovative security label products could not have found a more appropriate event to showcase. Amit Ahuja, the only Indian label press manufacturers to have ever exhibited with a working press at Labelexpo, was very busy for the entire duration of the show and carries home a whole lot of leads to work on. The press on display has been sold to a customer in Moscow, Russia. Indian label film manufacturers Cosmo films and Polyplex too reported a steady stream of visitors.

Kurt Walker, President-Finat
 Finat, the international association of the self adhesive label industry has played an important part in the success of Labelexpo. This event also marked the 20th year of partnership with this event organizer. In words of Kurt Walker President Finat, “ In all respects, this has been the best show ever” Jules Lejuene Managing Director Finat concludes, “The Finat booth saw hectic activity and was the meeting point for many luminaries of this industry”.

The Global label awards function and gala dinner, held on the sidelines of Labelexpo was a grand event before an audience of 550, the awards celebrate and honor those who promote best practice in the label industry. Some of the label industry’s leading companies and individuals were recognized for their outstanding contribution to the sector as the winners of this year’s Label Industry Global Awards.

Mike Fairley, Helmut Schreiner and
Dean Scarborough CEO Avery Dennison
  Helmut Schreiner, executive manager/owner of the Schreiner Group, was given the R. Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Avery Dennison. The Label Industry Award for Continuous Innovation – sponsored by Labels & Labeling, NarroWebTech and Label & Narrow Web – was presented to Brazil's Novelprint. EskoArtwork triumphed in the Label Industry Award for New Innovation category which is designed to underline technological advances made in the previous year. A host of other winners were also awarded at the function which was interspaced with good entertainment followed by a great dinner. Dean Scarborough, CEO of Avery and Mike Fairley were an important part of the deliberations at this function.

The LMAI Team
 The Indian Label industry was well represented at this exhibition. Leading the industry’s presence was the Label Manufacturers association of India(LMAI), President Vivek Kapoor. Most of the members of his team were also in Brussels for the event. Vivek and his team have created a very positive atmosphere in the association. The recent events like the GOA conference has brought unity in the industry and instilled a sense of camaraderie. Normally at the previous labelexpo’s I noticed that Indian printers would pass by their counterparts in the Indian industry in the walkways by giving a symbolic nod or a smile. This time around the bonding was evident, you could see the Indian printers standing in small groups discussing what was good and must-see at the show. These small and important get-togethers helped them reach their target exhibitors without wasting time. Printers from across the length and breadth of India were seen moving around. If it was Update Prints, Anygraphics, Zircon and Prakash Labels from North India, the west had an entourage from Creative labels, Renault paper, Webtech, Interlabels, PPL, Total print, Ajanta, Unique, Mahrishi Labels and many more. South Indians were also present in substantial no.s, Wintek, SGRE and Global from Bangalore, ITC from Chennai, Pragati and Arunodaya from Hyderabad, Raveendran from Sivakasi and so on. The list is long. This pan national representation conveyed the seriousness and firm resolve of the label industry in India to take the growth challenge head-on. These printers are now more than willing to invest, expand, innovate and globalize. They are shopping for the best equipment from presses to inspection systems, no wonder they were busy at Labelexpo.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi. October 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Packaging Grows as India Grows!

I have always been of the opinion, “it is the package that sells!” Every manufacturer of consumer goods realizes that good quality is imperative for long term success of the product. However it is an immediate and important need to first tempt the shopper to impulsively lift the product from the shop shelf. For this the manufacturers have to rely on the package design. The consumers get to experience the contents of the package only when they have reached the confines of their homes. It is another issue that repeat sale will happen when the customers find the product contents are meeting with their satisfaction. Thus it is necessary that a good product is packaged in an attractive and effective packaging. With the urbanized Indian consumer’s style of shopping undergoing a sea change from visiting traditional shops for buying goods to patronizing organized retail vends in air-conditioned ambience, packaging is getting the attention it should.

The current economic scenario and changing lifestyles in India are attracting the interest of many around the world. By the latest count, the Indian population crossed the figure of 1.20 billion people. In the last decade the addition to the population has been 181 million people, almost near to the total population of Brazil, the fifth most populous country in the world! India accounts for 17.5% of the world’s population. The Indian economy is growing rapidly, registering an 8.5 % growth in GDP. It is second most favored country for foreign direct investment (FDI) attracting an investment of US$ 25.9 billion in 2009-2010. Foreign exchange reserves have reached a figure exceeding US$ 276 billion. According to a report by McKinsey, the economy will grow five fold in 20 years. India is the biggest democracy in the world with a large English speaking population of which 64.8% is literate leading to a bulging middle class segment. Couple this with the fact that 64% of all the people in the country are in the workable age group of 15-59 years and 54% of the population is under the age of 25 years. This huge number of over 600 million young people will be getting education, working hard and earning more to spend more. It is obvious that retail spending in India is poised to grow exponentially.

According to the report, “Strong & Steady, 2011” Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), India’s retailing sector currently estimated at US$ 500 billion is expected to grow to US$ 900 Billion by 2014. According to some reports, in two years retail real estate stock in India will become double, from approx. 50 million square feet to almost 100 million square feet. The Indian retail industry is the fifth largest in the world and is growing at a fast pace. Rapid urbanization and higher spending power of a young generation are factors contributing to this amazing growth. It is interesting to note that due to the changes taking place, the large number of working women in an otherwise traditionally conservative society, are also responsible for this growth in spending. Retailing in the country is still at a nascent stage and it will be some time before it becomes the predominant and accepted way of selling across the nation. Most of the Indian consumers are used to the idea of visiting the traditional neighborhood stores for their needs. The shop owner is virtually the pushing salesperson for the brands that provide him better margins. As organized retailing becomes more and more acceptable, shoppers are experiencing the difference. There is a wide variety of products lying on the shop shelves yearning for their attention. The persistent shop owner pushing particular brands is missing. At this point in time the printed package is of prime importance. Innovative packaging tempts the shopper to reach for the product.

The highly fragmented Indian packaging industry is spread evenly across the length and breadth of India. The total industry size is estimated at US$ 19 billion as against the global market of US$500 million. The per capita usage of packaging in India is small at US$ 15.00 per person as compared to a global average of US$ 100.00. This does indicate the potential for growth in this market. According to Indian Institute of Packaging, the packaging industry in India is growing at a rate in excess of 15% per annum. However some industry experts express that the growth is much higher at 20-22%. Food and beverage account for 85% of packaging materials consumed in India, Pharmaceuticals 10% and balance 5% is other industries. Close to 50% of all the packaging materials used is converted into the printed packages, flexible packaging accounts for 22%, printed cartons 17%, Labels 3% and others about 8%. The rest of the 50% materials are accounted for by rigid packaging, metal, glass, caps/closures and others. The printed cartons and labels have been largely printed and converted by the offset printers employing various die-cutting, converting and decorating operations offline. The offset printing industry is well established in the country and has spread all over. This segment attracts continuous investment, expansion and up gradation. Self adhesive labels remain the forte and specialization of the narrow web label printers, who continue to grow, expand and technically upgrade steadily. In this segment the technology changed from letterpress printing process to flexographic printing and further on to combination printing using various printing and converting processes online with their narrow web presses. These include flexo, offset, screen, hot foiling, cold foiling, etc. Flexible packaging and Shrink sleeves are other segments of package printing that have attained a big market size owing to a steady 17% growth rate in recent years. The industry in these segments has been employing only the rotogravure printing in their manufacturing programme. The rotogravure printing industry is also well established and growing in India. It is the preferred technology for converting on wide web presses, providing economies of scale with high production speeds. Of late due to the need for shorter runs, faster deliveries and multi-process converting, the narrow web press suppliers are going wider to mid web presses with advanced multi process capabilities and offering these equipments to printers. These are high end presses that empower the printer to print and convert labels, folding cartons, shrink sleeves and flexible packing inline on the same press. It is just a matter of time when we shall see a paradigm shift in this direction.

As for the materials, with growth in the food and beverage industry the demand for specialized films and film laminates has escalated. In recent times due to environmental concerns the Indian authorities have restricted the use of plastics in certain large volume food packaging. The directive to use bio-degradable substrates has initiated a need to develop paper based substrates that will fill the void that this restriction has created. While the market for special films will continue to grow, social responsibility commitment towards a safer environment will lead the packaging industry to look for new and safer arenas. Waste management and recycling are also issues that need the converters attention. Producing a great package may bring in a lot of success but the effort to reduce the impact of packaging waste on earth, will bring satisfaction.

Written for the innaugral issue of Package Print Worldwid (PPW) magazine launched by Tarsus group at Labelexpo-Euroe 2011, Brussels, Belgium. by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi India 19th June 2011