“The annual turnover of Indian packaging industry will touch $ 32 billion by 2025 from the present $ 24.6 billion” the Union Minister for State for Commerce and Industry E M Sudarsana Natchiappan said as per report in the Economic times of Jan 06, 2014. We are now into the end of 2016, which is almost three years hence. The growth rate is estimated by the Indian Institute of Packaging and the ministry of Commerce & Industry at 15%. If I take this CAGR (Compounded annual growth rate) of 15% and calculate, the total packaging market size in India at present should be 35 Billion USD per annum.

According to PIRA (Pira is the worldwide authority on the packaging, paper and print industry supply chains), labels constitute less than 3% of the total packaging market. This includes all of Self adhesive labels, Shrink sleeves, Wet glue labels, In-mould labels, etc. So the market size of labels in India if I calculate at a modest rate of just 2.5% of the total packaging market, it works out to be in excess of 0.9 Billion USD or at present rate of Forex conversion rate, it is estimated to be Rupees 6000 Crores. Assuming 40% of this to be the market of self adhesive labels, the market size of self adhesive labels then works out to over Rupees 2400 Crores or approximately 900 million square meters. This would include all of printed paper & film labels, Sheeted and roll form labels, stock lots, Barcode labels, etc. The organized sector may look much smaller but together with the unorganized sector in the label industry which has mushroomed all across different geographical zones in the country adding volumes to the overall consumption, the consolidated figure becomes substantial. Consumption continues to grow steadily in even the smaller towns of the country. Some of my industry colleagues exercising caution, differ in opinion and emphatically state that the market size is lower. With current Indian population in October 2016 being 1.33 Billion, the per capita usage of label materials in India is estimated by me to be 0.67 Square meters while my other friends in the industry feel it is a little less than half a square meter per capita, meaning the market size is almost 670 million square meters. So the market should be within the range of 670-900 million Square Meters.

Self Adhesive Labels Industry In India and The World: Indian labels market; inching towards a billion square meters

Let me go about this, another way. There are more than 500 label printers for printed labels and an equal if not more, number of label manufacturers who produce plain labels, price labels, A4 inkjet/laser labels and barcode labels. This adds up to a 1000 converters having anything from one to maybe twenty presses. There are large converters who use over 40,000-50000 square meters per day and then there are those who consume much less.

If I take just an average of a modest 2500 square meters per month and with almost 1000 converters, this translates into a consumption of 750 million square meters per annum! If I increase the average consumption to 3000 square meters per day the consumption figure jumps to 900 million square meters calculated at 300 days production. If I add to this the sheet fed label market the market sizes increases further. I have tried assessing the market size in three different ways and each time it reaches within the same limits. Surely we have with finality crossed the half a square meter per capita consumption mark and are inching towards the one square meter per capita and presently hovering around close to the magical I billion square meter mark!

Note for print publications: Magazines may reproduce the above article by giving credit to the author.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India. October 2016.

India is the second most populous country in the world after China yet it is home to world’s largest youth population. As literacy levels grow, more and more young English speaking people are coming out of schools, colleges and universities seeking gainful employment. These youth on employment, have disposable incomes in their pockets and have made the burgeoning middle class, a powerful buyer segment driving huge demand of consumer products. As demand escalates for food, clothing, medicine and other consumer durables, it spells out a huge need for labels & packaging. There is further impetus to this industry segment as organized retail becomes more widespread across the country. Shop shelves need to look smart so as to tempt the consumers to reach out and lift the product that appeals due to the packaging it adorns.

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Indian Institute of packaging, the total market size of packaging industry in India is 24.6 Billion USD growing at the rate of 15% per annum. According to WPO and PIRA(Pira is the worldwide authority on the packaging, paper and print industry supply chains) Printed Cartons is 17 % of the total packaging market amounting to approximately 4.7 Billion US Dollars and labels is a small part of packaging, less than 3 % approximately 850 Million US Dollars which includes all of wet glue labels, self adhesive labels, plain labels, in-mould labels, shrink sleeves, wrap around labels, etc. Personally I estimate the market size of labels in India to be somewhat larger than this.

With growing usage of internet amongst industry and general public, commercial printing has received a setback. In the late seventies or early eighties when Indians visited exhibitions abroad, they carried back large number of catalogues and grudgingly paid huge amounts for excess baggage to airlines. On return they would hardly find time to go through those loads of paper brochures that would lie around on their desks till it was time to go for another exhibition. The new millennium has changed all that. Since all information is available on internet, there is no need to carry the extra baggage any more. To remind one of what all to check later when back home, the mobiles and IPads are handy and one just has speak and record in these devices to retrieve the reminders at a later date. The convenience as it came, saw a very important growing segment of the printing industry i.e. catalogue printing, starting to diminish or vanish. At this time packaging and not commercial printing is seen as the dependable area of growth and in synergy with the work offset printers are used to doing. As long as there is growth in a literate population needing food, clothing and consumer products, obviously the need for packaging and folding cartons will continue to grow steadily.

In the 1970s and onwards, the self adhesive label printing industry in India was evolving. From its initiation as a product of screen printed process, with time self adhesive label transformed to a product of the offset printing industry and finally registering a change from the sheetfed printing process, it went on to be produced on in-line narrow web presses. Initially in India, labels started to be printed and converted in an in-line operation in roll form on Japanese flatbed letterpress machines with flat-bed die-cutting in reels of widths 100mm or 150mm. Sometime during the 1980s there started a shift from flat bed letterpress printing to Rotary flexo printing and rotary die-cutting in-line in similar widths. Evolving further, towards the end of the last millennium in the 1990s the flexo presses started to get wider in width, from the 150mm size to 250 mm. The wider width and higher speeds due to rotary converting appealed immensely to label printers and thus started the decline in preference for cheaper flat bed presses that were extremely slow and would produce by impressions per minute rather than meters per minute. In an effort to increase productivity, the width of rotary label presses somewhere at the end of 1990s or the beginning of the decade of 2000, got wider to be at 340-370 mm.

Even the speed of these presses increased from 300 feet per minute to over 200 meters per minute. Flexographic printing was preferred for line jobs but when high-quality images in halftone were needed, sheet fed offset printing was opted for. In the last few years the quality of flexographic printing, due to development in prepress process improved making it comparable to offset printing.Flexo rotary label printing flourished not only in India but generally across the world. With increased investments in these presses, intense competition was felt by the label printers. This situation called for innovation and creating more decorated and complex labels incorporating different technologies. As a new millennium dawned, a new concept came to the fore when flexo label printers started investing in equipments with multi-process printing and converting. This is also referred to as combination printing or hybrid printing whereby more than one printing, decorating or converting technologies are employed on the same machine to use the finer results from different print processes. Also the new millennium brought with it the change in narrow web label presses to go still wider to 430mm-530 mm.

Once this happened, the range of products that could be converted on these machines also widened, as diverse materials of varying thickness could be handled with automatic registration controls producing a wide range of end products. Innovation and technically designed capabilities of these equipment, presented an alternative for conventional printing and converting of folding cartons to converting in-line in a single pass. This provided further impetus to the narrow web printing industry to go wider hereon. Today we have in-line presses that incorporate diverse printing processes like Offset, Flexo, Screen, Gravure and digital with finishing processes like varnishing, laminating, cold foil, hot foil, embossing, die-cutting, creasing and waste removal all in a single pass on the same machine.

The self adhesive label that is a minuscule part of the packaging industry primarily consists of three main components;
1.       Release Paper

2.       Adhesive

3.       Face Paper
Each of these components, have a whole lot of chemistry and variations as per need and requirement of the label and its application. The converting process consists of printing, decorating, die-cutting or sheeting, waste removal and rewinding for end product in roll form  or stacking in case of sheeted end products.  The evolution of narrow web label presses, to be able to produce a wider range of end products, have prompted the machine builders to innovate and make the machine not only to go wider but also to integrate diverse processes, paving way for conventional sheet fed printing to in-line printing and converting of folding cartons using multiple technologies as also handling different materials of varying thickness. While flexographic printing one can achieve exact pantone shades, offset printing delivers fine skin tones and vignettes, with gravure the impact of metallic inks is decorative, screen printing helps putting a higher deposition of ink so as to achieve the vibrancy of colours and digital can provide variable data as also help make short runs besides proofing . These web presses are now available in widths upto 850mm catering to printers producing folding cartons, flexible packaging and shrink sleeves. Not very long time ago 850 mm was considered as wide web but now it is an extension of the narrow web printing equipment merging with the mid web segment and offering dedicated equipment for the folding carton industry.

If one has to just print a large volume print job, then the conventional offset remains the best option. However given the modern day imperatives of catering to a demanding retail oriented consumer base and pressures coming from a result oriented marketing team, the need for highly decorating capabilities and producing short runs of folding cartons has become a necessity.

This requires a lot of multi-process printing, finishing and decorating. It also calls for increased investments in an array of equipments so as to innovate and complement the capabilities of the offset printing press. It makes the life on the offset shop floor time consuming and cumbersome. The requirement of space and difficult to manage manpower goes on increasing as huge stacks of paper need to be moved from machine to machine to achieve the desired results.

For a highly decorated package or carton, incorporating additional security features the following processes and capabilities are preferred to be incorporated in converting operation to create the desired end product:
Flexographic PrintingOffset Printing  Gravure PrintingScreen PrintingDigital PrintingFront and back printing using a turnbarFully automatic register controlLaminationDelam-Relam: Delaminating a self adhesive laminate, printing on adhesive and relaminating.EmbossingPrimer coating for digital printingVarnishingCold foilingHot foilingAdhesive coating in lineDie-cuttingSheeting
Achieving all the above the capabilities in a single sheet fed offset press is not possible. One would require a whole lot of different printing equipment, finishing equipment, large amount of space and a big manpower to achieve this. However all the above processes can be used in creating a package in a “single in-line converting press” in a single pass. To run such a press one needs just 2-3 persons. It becomes extremely convenient to load paper or board reels at the unwind station and getting the finished product at the end of line. For board usage as in case of folding cartons and large volume jobs one can integrate the press with an automatic butt splicer for continuous non-stop production.The investment may initially appear to be high but when one sees the larger convenience and the project in complete perspective, it becomes interesting. With rising cost of real estate, the space requirement greatly escalates the project cost. Skilled Manpower is not only difficult to source but becoming extremely difficult to retain and manage due to increasing demand for press operators. An in-line printing and converting press reduces the need for a big manpower. Moreover the state of art fully automatic registration systems allows printers to achieve results without much operator intervention. Quick changeovers allow you to have many job changes effectively during a single day. This investment as stated earlier reduces the amount of space needed drastically thereby reducing the investment in real estate and making the project viable.
It is pertinent to note that consistent growth in India has prompted a number of larger printing and packaging companies to invest in these combination or hybrid in-line converting presses. There are others in the process of following suit. In time to come these printers will see the convenience to print and convert in a smaller space with lesser manpower and better capabilities. The make-ready cost that appears to be more at this time for larger runs will either be compensated by the convenience or will reduce with economies of scale in times to come.


Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India exclusively for Narrow Web Tech Germany December 2015. The article maybe published with the permission of Narrow WebTech Germany giving credit to them and to the author

Mumbai based Webtech labels lead by Amar Chhajed and cousin Jitesh Chhajed is yet another leading label company that has been acquired by an internationally renowned company Huhtamaki Oyj’s subsidiary in India PPL Huhtamaki. This is in line with the trend, that international label and packaging producing companies continue to consider India as their most important destination for market expansion. In my last post two weeks back titled, “Joint Ventures, Mergers, Acquisitions & International Partners, still Positive in labels“.

I mentioned, “Meanwhile constituents of the label industry are talking in hushed tones about another deal that has taken place but since the stake holders do not confirm publically, it remains gossip that goes on.” This was it! I could not disclose the names as ethically it was wrong to disclose while the formalities were in progress. It is now official.

Webtech was established by Amar Chhajed in 1998 and in just fourteen years he built the company to international standards, fit enough to be invested in by world leaders in packaging. I wrote on Amar Chajjed in August 2010 in my post titled, “AmarChhajed…we are available 24 hours!” I could forsee at that time this company rising to global levels. I reproduce below the official press release;

Huhtamäki Oyj’s subsidiary in India has acquired 51% of the shares in privately held Webtech Labels Private Limited for a debt free purchase price of approximately EUR 7 million. Webtech Labels Private Limited is specialized in manufacturing high-end pressure sensitive labels, especially to pharmaceutical customers. The annual net sales of the company are approximately EUR 10 million. The acquisition complements the Flexible Packaging segment’s existing product portfolio. “We continue to implement our growth strategy, and we are pleased to add this expertise to our offering in a fast-growing market such as India,” says Jukka Moisio, CEO of Huhtamäki Oyj.

For further information, please contact:
Jukka Moisio, CEO, tel. +358 10 686 7801
Timo Salonen, CFO, tel. +358 10 686 7880
Katariina Hietaranta, Head of Group Communications and IR, tel. +358 10 686 7863HUHTAMÄKI OYJ
Group CommunicationsHuhtamaki Group is a leading manufacturer of consumer and specialty packaging with 2011 net sales totaling EUR 2 billion. Foodservice and consumer goods markets are served by approximately 14,000 people in 62 manufacturing units and several sales offices in 31 countries. The parent company, Huhtamäki Oyj, has its head office in Espoo, Finland and its share is quoted on NASDAQ OMX Helsinki Ltd. Additional information is available at www.huhtamaki.com.
Reported by, Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi 

Christmas is a time of life that fills your heart with elation, hope for miracles to happen, end of hardships and a future full of success. May this day bring to you, all that you yearn for, success, love, peace, good health and above all…Happiness!

“Merry Christmas!”

History is being created! The first conference being organized by LMAI, Label Manufacturers Association of India, is to be held at Hotel Park Hyatt, Goa in three days time from July 29th to 31st, 2011. The president of the association Vivek Kapoor and his team appear to be a stressed lot in effort to deliver their best, yet in their hearts they are ecstatic! They have worked hard to deliver a great networking event. The response is overwhelming. The industry looks forward to network and gel with colleagues.

When the project was conceptualised, not many believed that they would succeed. Success will eventually be viewed after the conference has been held. I will try and post the complete report with pictures by the end of next week.

It is an event that promises to be comparable to the best in the world. Being the nascent attempt by a young association and having reached such levels of success lapses if any need to be overlooked.I personally believe that given the level of commitment the event will leave the world label fraternity in awe.

The target to achieve appeared optimistic, 100 rooms and  maybe 150 delegates and Lo! the result is incredible!!! Rooms ? Not available and God knows how many more are needed… Delegates? The venue can accommodate 180 and it is over 240 confirmed delegates! It is really amazing, there is a a long waiting list. As for the speakers at the conference, it is the virtual who is who of the leading providers to the international label industry. More on that in my post conference report.

Kudos to Vivek and his team! Cheers Goa, here we come!

Posted by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi on 26th July, 2011

The following article was written in 2006, The second part written in July 2019 is published in a series of four parts. the first part 2A is available at http://bit.ly/2xOxY1P

Years ago in 1981, I came across a book on the house of Tata’s. The book written by Russi Lala was named, “Creation Of Wealth” and it chronicled the events that led to Tata’s becoming the biggest Industrial group in India at that time.

After reading the book I was overwhelmed and wished that some day I will write something like this. Maybe track the roots of my own large extended family. Somehow I never got down to seriously working on this. I guess the opportunity came around again when I was invited by Roger Pellow of Tarsus to make two presentations at the first India Label Summit in 2006. I decided that in the first presentation where we take an overview of the India Label Market, I will chronicle the events that led to the establishment of the narrow web label printing industry in India. I am sure that this topic is of prime interest to all the label printers in India. Though it is extremely difficult to put all those interesting historical happenings, bottlenecks or interesting landmarks into this presentation yet I have tried to put together in whatever best way I could. I feel less then writing a book, there cannot be proper justice done to the subject. Maybe one day if I can find time, I will attempt it. Meanwhile getting data on this has been a very interesting job and I thank my senior colleagues in the Industry, without whose inputs and help, I could not have put together this presentation.

The very beginning

The credit of bringing self adhesive labels, in their present form, to India goes to a US multi national, Johnson and Johnson. It was in the turbulent post independence time in 1947 that Johnson & Johnson came to India.

In 1957 they established Johnson & Johnson India Ltd. A couple of years later they started the permacell division to make self adhesive tapes. It was around 1965 that they entered into the manufacture of self adhesive labels. They installed a rotary label press. They sold only converted labels and did not offer any labelstock to others in the market. So there was no real scope at that time for others to setup label presses or any other sticker manufacturing facility.

The Decade of sixties.

The first self adhesive label produced by an Indian printer also started around the same time in 1965, almost thirty years after Stanton Avery produced the first self adhesive label in Los Angeles, California.

Manohar Lal Bhatia, a screen printer, producing water transfers in his company, Sharat Industries, did pioneering work and produced what was the first self adhesive sticker in India. Using a PVC face stock with pressure sensitive adhesive supplied by Calico and a Polyethylene sheet as a release liner they manufactured their stickers. The reason they did not use paper as face material is that silicon release liners were not available and Polyethylene provided for a very tight release due to which the paper would tear off. Manohar Das Bhatia was later joined by his two sons Shyam and Rattan. They worked hard to make self adhesive stickers under their brand “Sharastick” popular in those days. While Manohar Bhatia is no more, my efforts to trace his son Shyam who probably still produces labels have been futile. I tried to reconfirm if Manohar Bhatia really was the first and got the reply from Badal Hasija, a screen printer with over 45 years of experience. “101 %, he was the first” says Badal and added “I even remember the first label he made was for Gabriel shock absorbers and it left me wondering for days, what Manohar Bhatia had produced”.

Jagdish Zaveri of Preeti Arts has also been one of the earliest of screen printers who produced self adhesive stickers and started around the same time. Other prominent screen printers who did pioneering work in stickers include, Hamid Vasi of Triace, Dinesh Gogari of Diamond Stickers, Vasu Rawal of Prachi Graphics and the list goes on. Their contributions however were more in the early seventies.

As the decade of sixties was coming to an end, a young Suresh Doshi from a family of textile merchants, who had drifted into distribution of PVC and decorative laminates, decided to try his hands at manufacturing of self adhesive Wall Papers. In 1969 he traveled to Germany to visit various machinery producing companies and he finally settled to buy a Kroenert coater for his new venture.

This machine had the capabilities to siliconise and produce self adhesive labelstocks. Little did Suresh Doshi realize that this plant would be the mother equipment for the Indian narrow web label industry.

The Decade of Seventies.

In 1971 the Kroenert coater/ laminator landed in Mumbai. The company Shanti Lal Doshi & Co, the maiden manufacturing venture of the Doshi family was in place to take off. This was a landmark year and I see it as a step that would lead to the birth of the self adhesive label in roll form, made by Indians. In a couple of year’s time the Doshi’s were ready to try producing labelsocks. Metroark Ltd. , which is now Wacker Metroark, was already there to provide the silicone release coatings for making release papers. Solvent based adhesive was provided by BASF and it was time to produce the first labelstock made in India by Indians.

In 1972-73 the commercial production of Labelstock had started.Around the same time that Suresh Doshi left for Germany in 1969, another young man, Jeetubhai Shah, visited the offices of Standard type foundry in Himalaya house in South Mumbai. He was surprised to see a die cut paper label that did not need to be remoistened to make it tacky. It would stick to glass with slight pressure. It was sticky to touch and would remain so even after having touched and peeled off from the hand many times. He kept playing with it for a while. Sticking the label to his hand and removing it. He was so fascinated with the label  that he started to make further enquiries. He also got from Standard Type foundry, a catalogue of Iwasaki machine that would make these die cut labels. A few trips later he came to know that Suresh Doshi was about to produce material for this machine. Jeetubhai decided do buy this machine. He joined hands with his income tax consultant and friend P P Bhagat to form a Company called International Trading Company at Kalyandas Industrial Estate in Worli. They applied for grant of an import license, and in those days of difficult foreign exchange regime, getting an import license was a nightmare. With a lot of effort they did manage the license and imported the machine. 
Jeetubhai fondly remembers that Japan had floated their currency that year and due to this, his machine became cheaper by at least 15%.. The timing of installing the machine was perfect. By the time it was installed, Shantilal Doshi & Co. was ready with labelstocks. There were numerous hurdles that these pioneers faced when they endeavoured on these path breaking efforts, like a whole night he spent at a workshop in the middle of Mumbai’s red light area to get his first Flat bed Die made. With deep sense of nostalgia he remembers the full page advertisement they gave in news papers, “First time in India Self Adhesive Labels, die-cut in any shape.” This was their USP over Johnson and Johnson, who were using expensive rotary dies whereas International Trading Co. had perfected their indigenous flat bed die making process. This advertisement brought in the first big label customer for them, which was Siemens.  International Trading company and later along with their sister co. Global graphics were the first roll form customers for Shantilal Doshi and Co., while Sharat Industries was their first sheet form customers. International Trading Co. still exists and is run by Kishore Parekh. The original partners had left the company. Jeetubhai later started a label company called Finearts.

I had asked Suresh Doshi to cite any interesting incident of those days and spontaneously he cited one. Sharat  Industries had made full die-cut labels for J K Helene Curtis from their stock and supplied. The users came up with a strange complaint.

The stickers were sticking well during the day but would fall off during the production at night. Not being able to find an answer to this one Mr. Doshi suggested that they use the labels during the day only. The production people at J K Helen Curtis did not agree as they had to run the night shift also. So Suresh Doshi was compelled to visit them during the night. He was shocked to see that the workers were not removing the release paper and thinking these to be remoistenable labels were using only water to stick the labels to the bottles. No wonder the labels were falling off !

The label industry was extended to other parts of India by the shear sincere efforts of the Doshi’s. By 1976, they had already suggested, encouraged and convinced close relatives Bharat Mehta and his brother to setup a label press.

Bharat Mehta bought his first Siki Label press from Ahmedabad where it was being used to produce unsupported wet glue labels. Shifting over from a business in agricultural pumps at the age of 26, Bharat Mehta, settled down perfectly in to his label printing business. He and his company Super Labels is one of the most respected label printers. From a single siki he went on to add  a fully loaded Gallus, an EM 280 8 colours, EM 280 6 colours, and an Acquaflex. In the earlier part of  the decade of 2000-2010 he lost heavily in a major fire but firm resolve brought him right back in what he liked best,  “Producing self adhesive labels”. Other early entrants into the industry in the west  during the seventies were, Vidya Mehta of Pressure Tags, The Kapoors of R K Papers, etc.

By end of the decade, the Doshi’s went southwards and encourage yet another relative, Dilip Sutaria to become a label printer. He setup Better Labels to lead the march of self adhesive labels in the south. In North, the Doshi’s appointed an ex-partner of  Dilip Sutaria, Mr. P D Khanna and his son Vinod Khanna as their agents in New Delhi. Around the same time in late seventies, Vinayak Sood of Liddles had installed a Norprint from UK and went on to add the first Mark Andy in 1983. The year 1979 saw Narula of Rikki Sales start his label printing operations.

In East the Doshi’s found their first customer in the former national  tennis champion and a celebrated player, Premjit Lal. The Doshi’s had completed their reach all over the country and by end of the decade self adhesive label industry was an established fact. According to Suresh Doshi, the biggest boost to the self adhesive label industry was in the year 1975. Starting with the controversial Rae Bareily election of Indira Gandhi, when congress introduced their self adhesive bindis, to the imposition of the law to make minimum retail price marking on consumer packages, compulsory, these decision brought a surge in demand for self adhesive labels . By 1975 another young Gujarati entrepreneur Pravin Patel had setup a polytype coater in Ahmedabad to produce silicone papers and labelstocks. 1978 saw Hari Gupta start his H P Lablette in Delhi with his Japanese coater, and towards the end of the decade PCI in Kolkata, IPW, Veekay papers and Geva in Mumbai and Weldon in Delhi had either started or were about to begin commercial siliconizing operations.

The decade of Eighties

With the start of a new decade more developments came into the self adhesive label industry. Shantilal Doshi had started operations with solvent based adhesive but environment friendly Acrylic emulsion adhesive were now in use for labelstock production. In 1982 Kilaru Prasad of Prasad Accumeter had brought in hotmelt coater from Accumeter in the US where he worked as a Sales Director. Ananth Rao of Stayon paper followed suit with another accumeter coater and Interlabels now perhaps the largest Indian printer also installed their accumeter hot melt coater to support their entry into the label printing industry around that time.

The decade of 80’s saw label printing companies being set up at various places in India. The eastern sector growth was extremely slow due to the lack of industrial infrastructure there. According to Bharat Mehta, the biggest boost to the industry this decade came in 1987 when many pharma companies started their shift rom wet glue labels to automatically dispensed self adhesive labels. This step helped establish a constant growth mode for this industry.

The Decade of NinetiesThe decade of nineties was perhaps the most eventful one. For me personally it was a memorable  one as during this time we took the landmark decision to switch over from being a mere commercial siliconizer to a prominent labelstock manufacturer. However for the industry, the biggest event I rate as the entry of the multinational Co, whom I refer to as our big brothers in the industry. Avery Dennison had setup production facilities in India. I have always felt their entry has changed the way people look at this industry. From being a mere sticker maker, the narrow web label printer became a specialty label producer. In the same decade we saw printers grow in stature and capabilities. Seljagat, Wintek, S K Labels in south. Interlabels, Webtech, R K Papers, Mudrika, Icon, Tayabi, etc in the west. Update, Syndicate, Jain transfer, Great Eastern, Prakash Labels, etc in the North. The three brothers at Prakash Labels worked hard in the price marking labels  segment to drive in volumes that were unheard of in the industry. Syndicate Printers went Global with operations in The UAE.The new millennium, the first decade of a new centuryAs we crossed the middle of this decade and the world’s eyes were on us. The label summit in early 2006 was a proof. The big time presses started coming in all over the country. You name them they were here, Gallus, Nilpeter, Iwasaki, Gidue, Mark Andy, Rotatek, Focus, Orthotec, the list is endless. The local press manufacturers have also reasons to be proud of. Multiflex, Jandu, RK Machine, webtech and a host of others  are reporting installations constantly. The two dyanamic ladies in our industry also emerged as highly successful narrow web label printers in this decade. Amila Singhvi at IPP and Kusum Dunglay at Goodwork. Goodwork took a legendary step by signing up a joint venture with Reynders. Unfortunately they parted ways the following year in 2008. Reyenders continued their operations as an individual entity. Our Industry Leaders Interlabels setup a unit in Africa on one hand and adding more state of art presses at a new and bigger facility. Webtech also expanding with new machines moved to bigger premises. In the earlier part of this decade, over thirty years after making a historical start the Kroenert coater of Shanti Lal Doshi and Company was sold to Gloss Holdings.A proud event for us at Weldon was being the first Indian Labelstock manufacturer ever to have exhibited at Labelexpo Brussels. We are happy to report our exports to Iran, UAE, Ukraine, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Bahrain, UK, France, Italy, Germany, New Caledonia, New Zealand, etc. Another feather in our cap was that my presentation on the Indian market, became a part of the International Cham Symposium at St. Moritz, Switzerland in the year 2003.The India Label show in 2002 opened to a resounding success and repeating the success in 2004 in cooperation with Tarsus at New Delhi. It was also in 2002 that we saw another historic step, the formation of LMAI. This happened due to sincere efforts of Amit Sheth and Industry stalwarts like Surinder Kapoor of R K Papers, Bhavin Kothari of Interlabels,  Rajesh Chadha of Update Prints, Kuldeep Goel of Any Graphics, Vivek Kapoor of Creative Prints( At that time he was with Icon Prints), etc.Halfway through the decade we were expecting many more exciting things to happen. More International Companies were waiting to enter, looking for oppurtune time or the right partners. The Industry was on a definite growth path and it was just a matter of time when it became a major market in labels in this part of the world. The years afterThe preceding part of this article I wrote in early 2006 and  towards the end of the year I looked back and saw changes coming in  rapidly. I would start by adding here that immediately after having made the above presentation at the label summit organised by Tarsus, the owners of Labelexpo,  I had a pleasant surprise. Shyam Bhatia, the son of the first label printer was standing in front of me at our stand during the summit. I had tried to trace him without success. I was excited, I gave him a chair, since he had missed the presentation, I gave it to him and asked him to read it and tell me if there was any thing wrong in what I wrote. As he finished reading his eyes were moist and shining, he just kept saying, “it is so true…it is so true” and then he was gone…
Rapid developments and changes are happening in the Indian market. More international companies have become extremely active. The Indians are also investing across the country. At least dozens of Chinese hot melt coater laminators have been installed. Label stock manufacturing is going wider, there are a few 1.5 meters coater laminators that have been installed or are in the process of being installed. A whole new set of Offset printers are investing in high-end label presses, indicating a firm shift from wet glue to self adhesive labels. Narrow web label printers are coming up in smaller cities and towns rather then being restricted only to metros. Installations have been reported at Nagpur, Pune, Indore, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Baddi, Uttranchal etc.
A host of international label Co.s like CCL, Brady’s, etc are already in the process of setting up shop in India. The successful Finat and LMAI sponsored, Euro-India label exchange, held on the sidelines of India Label Show 2006, indicated to setting up of a whole new set of joint ventures in the field of narrow web labels. It surely was interesting to see more and more of European companies registering on the show website. If registrations on the India Label Show website were any indication then surely India is the happening destination for the narrow web label industry. As per my information visitors from over 35 countries had registered. The 2006 India label show happened and it was a great success. So much so that by September 2007 it was taken over by Tarsus. The announcement of India Label show having become a part of the global labelexpo group came at the Labelexpo 2007 at Brussels. The two years following the 2006 show have seen unprecedented growth. The flock of marketing agents of most of the international press manufacturers, had shifted gears and were in an aggressive selling mode. The credit of expanding this market goes to the likes of Gaurav Roy selling all those Mark Andy’s, Ranesh Bajaj selling Rotateks, Lintec, Omega, etc. Amit Sheth selling Focus and Orthotec, Heidelberg selling Gallus machine, Vijay Pareekh offering MPS, Autoprint offering Omet, Riefenhauser selling Gidue and the list could go on. The biggest surprise came from the industry leader worldwide, Nilpeter. In 7 preceeding years they sold just one press and in the last two years they not only sold four new presses but also announced setting up of facility to produce Nilpeter presses in Chennai, India. The credit goes to the forward thinking of Dilip Shah and hard working of Manish Kapoor. The Indian press manufacturers also have made their mark, with R K Machines of Ahmedabad reporting 150 installations and Jandu reporting 26 installations in 2-3 years. There are a whole lot others but the list would become too exhaustive.Two very important happenings that took place in these two years after 2006 were first, the entry of Raflatac with setting up of their slitting facility near Mumbai and second, the expansion of Avery Dennison, with them setting up another coating laminating facilty near Pune. The competition in the labelstock segment became extremely intense. Many local stock producers suffered due to to erosion of margins and unviable credit terms. With raw material prices climbing and wafer thin profits, the time for shakeout and restructuring had arrived. Many have started looking out towards global markets or venturing into new and profitable products with synergy. During these two last years a multitude of presses have arrived in India. The likes of young Chandan Khanna, who diversified from being a sheetfed offset printer to a narrow web label printer has surprised many. In just a few years from his first one waterless offset Iwasaki press, it became three presses and then at the Labelexpo 2006 he surprised all by announcing that he had bought a Nilpeter and an MPS in one go. Prakash labels also reported unprecedented growth with their multi location manufacturing and stock facility in the UAE. Interlabels, the market leader continued to grow not only in India but also in their international operations. In south Gururaj of Wintek in Bangalore and Raveendran of Seljegat in Sivakasi were on a roll reporting fresh investments in the label business.  As the inflationary pressure came to hit USA and found its way also to India, label printers who have made huge capital investments in state of art Label presses started to feel the pinch of competition coming from not only international printers but also from their local counterparts, with their relatively cheaper investments in Chinese Label presses.
This period also becomes significant because of recognition of Indians in the label industry on a global scale. It was a matter of pride for me for having been chosen as the only Asian to be a member of the Finat committees. At the Finat congress 2008 in Paris, it was heartening to see many Indian faces and creditable that Bharat Mehta of Superlabels of Mumbai and Kamlesh Shah of Letragrafix were recipients of Finat awards for excellence in printing. With LMAI now becoming more active and interactive they are once again parternering Finat for yet another Indo European label exchange hopefully along with the next India Label Show 2008. LMAI is also in the advance stages of conducting a fare and competitive label awards competition, professionally. It is heartwarming that printers from surrounding countries have become or have expressed the desire to be a part of LMAI. As a young India continues to grow at a fast pace, more and more young Indians earn more and spend more, giving a big fillip to the retail industry. As the retail grows, so does the requirement of labels. There may be bad patch or a small pause but for a long time this industry has still to grow, set many landmarks and create history.

The second part written in July 2019 is published in a series of four parts. the first part 2A is available at http://bit.ly/2xOxY1P
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi, leading manufacturers and exporters of self Adhesive Labelstocks. (first written in November-2006 and last updated in September 2008)  http://www.weldoncelloplast.com/