The educational portion of the event featured 70 seminars across 12 different educational tracks. Speakers included industry keynote address speaker Deb Carey, founder and president of New Glarus Brewery, Brewers Association Director Paul Gatza and Chief Economist Bart Watson, who delivered the annual State of the Industry Address.
Gatza, while noting that craft beer sales are at an all-time high, stressed that thriving within the booming industry is no easy task. "If you're looking for a quick buck, I think you have a better chance going down to Broadway and opening up a honky tonk than a brewery right now," Gatza said.
Craft beer brands can set themselves apart from the competition using various label and packaging strategies. Providing a label education was La Crosse, WI-based Inland, a label and packaging converter whose tagline is “We Power Great Packaging.” Inland hosted a packed seminar where brewers and beer marketers learned of the latest trends.
During his presentation, Mike Miller, Inland’s key account manager, provided an overview of the various beer label options available. He emphasized that PS continues to take market share from glue-applied labels, and in particular, pressure sensitive labels applied to beer cans is one of today’s hot beer labeling trends, and something that can add value to a beer brand. Shrink sleeves on beer cans is another popular choice today, he said.
Tampa, FL-based Labelvalue.com, an e-commerce label specialist that serves the craft the beer market, was among the exhibitors, and another converter to tout the benefits of shrink sleeves on beer cans. The company was promoting its role as a one-stop-shop for craft beer packaging. LabelValue’s marketing manager Josh Dickson explained, “We offer pre-shrunk, empty 12-ounce and 16-ounce cans to breweries and homebrewers as a one-stop-shop for any brewer’s canning and packaging needs. Our customers can order online from us the cans with shrink sleeves, upload their artwork and approve their proofs online."
Blue Label Digital Printing exhibited its many capabilities. The company is an early adopter of the HP Indigo 8000 press, and offers all of the personalization and variable data design capabilities that digital printing allows. The Ohio-based printer is dedicated to the craft beer segment, counting more than 600 breweries as customers.
Massachussetts-based Dion Label displayed rolls of labels, shrink sleeve products, and information on its label applicators. The Dion team noted that beer cans are trending over beer bottles and its samples sparked a lot of interest among visitors, specifically the “Tie-Dye” beer shrink sleeves at the show. For those not quite ready to jump into shrink sleeves, Dion noticed there is a move toward using clear labels to create a “no label look” similar to shrink sleeves.
In addition to label converters being among the exhibitors, several suppliers to the label industry were also on hand to promote products and equipment.
UPM Raflatac had a particularly strong presence in Nashville. As a global provider of beer label materials, the substrate supplier has the knowledge and experience to guide breweries – both large and small, bottled or canned – looking to distinguish their brand in this highly competitive market. “Whether it is switching from glue-applied to pressure sensitive materials or labeling in wet or dry environments, UPM Raflatac can assist in every step of the way. With a wide range of smooth and textured papers or film labelstocks, UPM Raflatac knows that craft breweries work hard to make their high-quality brews, and we want to assure them that we work just as hard to offer label material that reflects the quality of the product contained within," said Jean Willson, segment manager, Wine, Spirits, & Craft Beverage, Americas, UPM Raflatac. "That's why we're at Craft Brewers Conference: to educate breweries about the importance of distinguishing their brands with pressure sensitive labels.
UPM Raflatac also hosted a lunchtime educational session on Wednesday, May 2. The goal was to provide tips and recommendations to help craft beer brands that want to label cans (or bottles) with pressure sensitive label materials.
The label printers themselves also had a strong presence. Epson, Afinia Label and AstroNova all exhibited products that can help a brewery bring label printing in-house.
Epson showcased its ColorWorks C7500 series. Designed to give the craft brewer the ability to produce full color high quality color labels on demand, the C7500 allows economical production of many unique label designs in short runs, while reducing the cost and inefficiency of pre-printed labels.
Afinia Label demonstrated its new L901 label printer, which gives companies the ability to run a full-color digital label printer inline with a finishing or application system without complications related to mid-job printhead maintenance. This Memjet-powered digital label printer can produce full-color prints with excellent image quality at speeds of up to 12" per second. Photo-quality images and exceptionally-crisp text and bar codes are printed at up to 1600 x 1600 dpi via Memjet’s Sirius print engine. Five high-capacity 250mL ink cartridges (CYMKK) offer a low ink cost per label.
AstroNova showcased both the QuickLabel and TrojanLabel printing systems. AstroNova recently expanded its T4 product range with the TrojanLabel T4, which provides digital printing and inline diecut labels. The Trojan T4 is a digital standalone color label press, equipped with a robust digital color printing unit and a built-in finishing station with intuitive operation via the TrojanControl touch screen. Offering flexible printing width, from 2" to 8.8" mm, this digital inkjet printer can print, laminate, cut and diecut brilliant 4-color labels with up to 1600 x 1600 dpi resolution and at a maximum speed of 60 fpm.
In addition to labels, label materials and printing equipment, also showcased at the Craft Brewers Conference were exhibitors highlighting label application, label design services, stickers and other PS promotional products such as narrow web printed magnets. In Music City, there was something for everyone on the show floor, for beer professionals and enthusiasts as well as those looking for innovative packaging.
The Craft Brewers Conference comes to Denver, CO, April 8-11, 2019.
For more on the 2018 Craft Breweres Conference including a look at exhbitor displays, check out the L&NW Slideshow!