This year’s winners represent a remarkable spread of "labeling" activities – from RFID and product authentication tags through "sparkly" labels on girls’ cosmetics and whisky labels printed on a wood veneer, to booklet labels on engine coolants. Organized by the European label association FINAT, the competition’s expert judging panel is led annually by Tony White of AWA Consulting, supported this year by Murat Sipahioglu of Gallus Group, Steve Wood of Steve Wood Services, and Michael Scherhag, editor of Etiketten/Labels magazine.
The label industry recovered strongly from the global economic recession, with self-adhesive labelstock consumption growing in Europe overall between 2010 and 2016 at a cumulative 22.9%. While 72% of brand owners surveyed in FINAT’s the latest (2016) edition of the European RADAR market analysis stated that they would not be migrating from self-adhesive labels as their core technology choice, many label converters have broadened their production repertoire, alongside this traditional route to success, to include other popular label production options today – such as sleeve labels, flexible packaging, and in-mold labels – to create new business and enhance their status with demanding brand owner customers.
Headliners in the 2017 winners list were Royston Labels, UK, who were pronounced "Best in Show," as well as winners in the Marketing/End uses group category for its labels on King’s Cross wine bottles, dramatically printed UV flexo in six colors on a metallic substrate, with a deep black background, and cleverly varnished.
Royston was one of more than 280 entries received from around 45 companies, representing 24 countries around the world.
Awards are organized in five main groups, with relevant sub-categories, covering marketing and end uses; printing processes; non-adhesive applications; innovation and electronic printing; and digital printing.
Winners in the Printing Processes Group were Marzek Etiketten GmbH, Austria, for Sonnwend Bock beer bottle labels. These were litho-printed in four colors plus silver, additionally finished with gold hot foil blocking and embossing and a high-gloss varnish, and featuring complex diecutting.
In the Non-adhesive Applications Group, IPE Industria Grafica S.L.U. of Spain took the prize for film shrink sleeve labels for Luna de Murviedro cava, printed flexo in four colors – white, black, grey, and pearl white – cold foil blocked and matte varnished to deliver a "cool" finish.
The award in the Innovation and Electronic Printing Group went to Schreiner Group GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, for its digitally-printed UHF-RFID vehicle parking permit labels for automatic vehicle identification, which additionally feature durability for the life of the vehicle concerned.
Digital print capability – a growing choice for labels today – was ably demonstrated by Etiketten CARINI GmbH, Austria, for Kress Beerenauslese labels, with hot foil and matte varnish, which took the top prize in the Digital Printing Group.
The judges also made two special awards – one for the digitally-printed labels (each of which was unique) on a wood veneer substrate for limited-edition Glenfahrn whisky bottles, presented to OMNIPACK, Switzerland; and the second for Fortnum & Mason Beluga caviar labels from Source Labels, UK, also digitally-printed, which contained 14 Svarovski crystals within the design.
Judging chair Tony White comments: “I am always excited every year before we begin the judging process, wondering what new heights the world label industry will scale. Over the years, there have been many technical and design changes within the label industry, and the competition has evolved continually to keep up with – and at times – anticipate the next dynamic landmark.”