The event, which attracted 115 attendees, highlighted a growing market and new opportunities for converters to enhance their businesses. The conference also featured a tabeltop exhibition, with booths from Nilpeter, Flint Group, Inland Packaging, HP and more.
Corey Reardon, president and CEO at AWA, opened the festivities with a detailed look at the global shrink sleeve market. According to Reardon, pressure sensitive labeling accounts for 40% of the global labeling market, with sleeving making up 18%. These figures are based on 62 billion square meters of label materials produced on a worldwide scale.
Of the global label market, sleeving accounts for 11 billion square meters, of which 65% is driven by the Asia Pacific region–primarily in Japan. China and India are also driving this high number. Meanwhile, North America and Europe make up 12% and 19%, respectively. Reardon added that North America continues to see growth in sleeving.
“It’s a nice development, and we continue to see growth in sleeve labeling,” said Reardon. “Although growth has continued, it does so at a decelerating rate. Sleeve labeling is growing faster than the average label market growth at 5.5%. We see North America, Europe and Asia all growing at about the same rate for sleeve technology.”
AWA reports that the global sleeve market is seeing growth rates around 4.3%. Heat shrink sleeves are the fastest driver of shrink sleeve growth, improving annually by roughly 6%. Much of the growth is occurring in the beverages space, including wine, spirits and craft beers.
“We see more and more sleeve technology being used for applications that were traditionally glue applied or wet glue labeling,” said Reardon. “No matter what supermarket you walk into anywhere in the world, we see shrink sleeving penetrating across all different segments.”
In breaking down shrink sleeves, Reardon said that heat shrink sleeves form the bulk of the market at 88%, while stretch sleeves come in at 8% and RFS/ROSO MD sleeve sit at 4%.
There is also a great opportunity in brand protection and security labeling. Reardon explained that 3% of traded goods are, in fact, counterfeit products. Shrink sleeves serve as a method to prevent loss and theft while promoting brand integrity.
Clay Butler, owner and creative director at Claytowne, highlighted the first day of the event. He explained how shrink sleeves have transformed boring, old labels into murals on a blank canvas. In a presentation entitled, “Shrink Sleeve as a Differentiator – Market Disruption Through Innovative Packaging,” Butler identified how he has focused on shrink sleeves to help drive startup businesses.
“It can be a hard process to explain to a client, exactly what we’re going to do with their bottle,” Butler explained. “I’m a huge fan of shrink sleeves. I did my firsts shrink sleeve about 12 years ago, and it just blew my mind. I thought, ‘It’s undeniable, the impact.’ I really thought shrink sleeves would be adopted quicker because, from a branding point of view, there’s really nothing like it.”
Butler detailed his personal experiences with shrink sleeving to promote branding. The creative director worked with Collotype, now a part of MCC, to develop shrink sleeves for a startup marijuana beverage company. During the height of the marijuana controversy, Butler’s design for CannaCola generated global recognition, forcing the Denver, CO-based distributor to pull out of a deal to produce the product. Butler believes that the intricate and decorative shrink sleeve led to wide acclaim, drawing considerable attention to the product.
“If that were a paper label, I think it would’ve ended with "Local boy does good’ in the newspaper,” he explained. “I was selling a dream, a concept, and that could only be achieved with shrink sleeve.”
Butler added that a dynamic design can honor and maximize the inherent qualities of the container. “Let’s break out of principal display panel/back panel and let’s think of the bottle as a canvas,” he said. “Shrink sleeves redefine the principal display panel.”
Attendees of the AWA International Sleeve Label Conference & Exhibition had the opportunity to visit the HP Experience Center in Alpharetta, GA. Visitors were given in-depth tours, featuring all of the latest HP printing presses and the corresponding products associated with each press. “It’s a great place to see where digital print is today and where it will be in the future,” said Reardon.
As part of the event, Reardon also announced the latest publication of the AWA Global Sleeve Label Market Study 2018. This is the fifth detailed report focusing on the sleeve label market, and it is slated to be released in Q2 2018.
The study offers an overview of the global and regional sleeve label markets, including market structure, segmentation by format, and future growth. Materials used and market trends are highlighted in the report, as well.
In closing the event, Reardon said that next year's edition of the International Sleeve Label Conference & Exhibition will take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.