The build-up to Labelexpo Europe is always enjoyable, and the show itself is exciting. For anyone who has not been there – and I strongly encourage you to go – it is the ne plus ultra of label industry events. Networking, education, new materials and machines, the crowds, the deals, the cameraderie – all of it under one roof. Well, six roofs. The show keeps expanding.
Two years ago, attendance at the Brussels event took a dip. No surprise there, considering that 2009 was the worst year for most businesses in the Western world. Labels and packaging will always be part of civilized culture, but if ever there was a time for lamentation, that was it. Now is the moment, however, to toss the bones and come up with a forecast of what Labelexpo Europe 2011 will look like. How is the stage set?
Overall business confidence in Europe isn't exactly romping along, so even though attendance might be back up again, willingness to invest might be a bit subdued. Europe is in a mushy place, economy-wise, and though analysts are doing their best to find hope, the mood is one of caution. On the other hand, technology isn't standing still, and converters might be feeling impelled to advance to the next level to outpace the competition.
We must look, however, at who will be in Brussels. For a long time we have lived with two Europes, the established one in the west and the emerging eastern region. Look at Poland, growing at a fast clip. These folks are going to be at Labelexpo, too, and they are shopping. And beyond Europe is perhaps the biggest competitor of all – now or soon: Asia. Folks from that large place will be at the show, too.
And then there's digital. As John Penhallow points out in his feature story on Europe's label markets (page 64), digital printing systems are on display this year at 15 percent of the booths. It's a sure bet that the digital hall will be packed. Is that a draw? No question.
So what's the forecast? I'll go with Very Good. Nothing's perfect, but this show will be just fine.
It is with mixed feelings that we at L&NW bid adieu to Steve Katz, our associate editor for the past three and a half years. Steve has moved on in his career, but he has left his mark on the industry, producing penetrating feature articles issue after issue, and immersing himself in the joys of the label converting business. The good news is that he's still with our parent company, Rodman Publishing, and is now managing editor of Nonwovens Industry magazine. We wish Steve the best, and we know that he will succeed in his new venture.
The other good news is that we welcome Catherine Diamond as our new associate editor. She has a journalism background and a buoyant enthusiasm about learning our industry, and we look forward to maintaining our editorial strength with Catherine on our team.
Jack Kenny, Editor