The topics encompassed all aspects of this segment of the label and packaging industry, including specialty film substrates, shrink and stretch sleeving, sealing, and application equipment.
AWA opened the Sleeve Label Conference and Exhibition with an overview of the market. According to Corey Reardon, president and CEO of AWA, global label demand totaled 59 billion square meters of labeling material. Of this figure, 40% included pressure sensitive substrates and 36% were made up of glue applied materials. In addition, sleeving accounted for 18%.
For the first time, AWA included information on the pouch market in its labels study. Reardon said that pouches and sachets are “significant growth segments in flexible packaging,” as they are replacing rigid packaging.
Reardon also added that, while IML is still a niche technology, “it has some interesting growth prospects.” In-mold labeling currently accounts for 2% of the label market, according to AWA.
Over 150 experts and industry leaders participated in the event. In order to make it truly inclusive, Reardon led the attendees in an interactive demonstration where a multiple choice test gave visitors an idea on how this industry is viewed. Of those surveyed, 18% of the visitors utilize sleeving for the food and beverage markets, while 13% were involved with health and personal care. The audience also saw the beverage market as the end use segment of greatest growth.
George Michales, sales executive at Accraply, delivered a presentation entitled, “Shrink Sleeves: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.” “I’ve been in packaging for over 30 years, and if one thing, it’s been exciting because there’s been a lot of changes along the way,” said Michaels. “The market is changing and it’s changing pretty quickly. It’s going to continue to evolve.”
Michaels observed that digital printing has made a significant impact in the shrink sleeve market. The best example, “Share A Coke” campaign, allows brands to use dramatic shapes and colors to sell more products. These products can be marketed to specific regions or sold as promotional items for specific events.
According to Michaels, the current challenge is how big runs should be. This was not an issue years ago, but today, brands want to take advantage of various shapes and sizes.
Michaels said that the Accraply Trine line is beneficial for these types of runs. The Accraply Trine 4800 can run up to 15 shapes and sizes with a guaranteed changeover rate of 15 minutes. The “Share A Coke” campaign was run on Trine machines, which feature custom printing and distribution within 48 hours. The Trine line features low and medium speed machines to fit well with its customers’ demands.
Accraply Harland Mercury equipment is designed for fast changeovers. Changeovers are guaranteed in less than 10 minutes. The modules are built with servos to push a button to go from size to size.
The craft beer market has seen a surge in sleeving technologies, as well. Many craft brewers are asking about sleeving for cans, in order to take make more of a mark at the shelf. According to Michaels, the craft beer label market is the new big space for the labeling of cans. Accraply has developed a shrink sleeve applicator for the craft beer business, the GrahamSleevit RF250.
Feeling the heat
According to AWA’s Reardon, heat shrink sleeving makes up 88% of the total worldwide sleeving volume. In 2016, the sleeve label market experienced 4-5% growth, which continued but at a decelerated rate.
Heat shrink sleeving is growing at the fastest rate, and the Asia Pacific market is leading the world in growth at 5.5%. North America’s growth rate was 2.8% in 2016. In this market, 59% still rely on PVC substates as their main material, while 20% are moving to PET-G. Reardon noted, however, that there is a shift toward PET-G and it is growing at a faster rate.
According to John Reimer, director of operations, Pressure-Lube, Inc., shrink sleeves provide brands with a number of benefits. Sleeving technologies allow brands to maintain integrity, utilize artistic creativity and full graphics, and utilize extra flexibility. Meanwhile, inventory is kept relatively low.
“We really feel the shrink sleeve has been a wonderful addition for us and given us a lot of flexibility,” said Reimer. “It’s worked out well.”
For a slideshow of the event, click here.
And the award goes to…
As part of the event, the winning entries to the 2017 AWA Sleeve Label Awards were announced. The awards, now in their third year, were chosen by an independent panel of expert judges.
“This is a really special part of the program, and they've increased in terms of entries we've received year after year,” explained Reardon. “I think the quality of the entries has increased year after year, as well.”
The awards were segmented into five categories, and presented to the following companies:
Heat TD Shrink Sleeve: Sleever International
Roll-Fed MD Shrink Sleeves: Inland Label
Sleeve Cans: Hammer Packaging
Environmental: Sleever International
Best in Class Winners: McDowell Label, Safety Seal
“I would like to congratulate our award winners,” said Reardon. “We look forward to the 2018 Awards as this program continues to grow.”