The label industry in India – capacity building in the current financial year

The rise and rise of Indian manufacturers

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label industry
Amit Ahuja, chief executive officer, Multitec showcases S1 full servo narrow web flexo press at PrintPak India 2022. Photo PSA

After speaking with some of the label industry suppliers and converters in the country, we have done some back-of-the-envelope calculations. Our estimate is that in the 2021-22 financial year that ended on 31 March 2022, about 40 to 45 narrow web flexo label presses were installed by Indian converters. About 65% of these were built by four Indian manufacturers in the Delhi NCR region. The majority of the India-made presses were from Multitec — the balance coming from UV Technologies, Alliance Printech, and NBG. In addition, there were about half a dozen digital label press installations but we will talk about these in our next issue.

The Indian label presses have improved in quality on the whole and the factors of local service and competitive prices make them compelling to at least look at for those label converters who earlier exclusively purchased narrow web flexo presses from the European, American, and Japanese manufacturers. The four Indian manufacturers also exported narrow web flexo press last year. Multitec, of course, has exported presses for many years and has exhibited at the Labelexpo in Brussels several times. 

Although India is a healthy market for label presses, exports are key to the growth of the Indian label press manufacturers. In the words of one industry veteran, “We sell our presses in India at very competitive prices and we will not survive if we do not export.” All four label press manufacturers exported presses and they expect these numbers to rise. This is in addition to the European manufacturer Nilpeter, with its factory near Chennai, which primarily builds label presses for exports and sells a few in the Indian market.

The current financial year 2022-23

The current financial year, it seems will bring the industry back towards a level of capacity building not seen for many years. We expect on the basis of our conversations with industry suppliers and converters that the number of flexo label press installs will increase from 25% to 30%. 

The four Indian-owned manufacturers will increase their in-country installations by approximately 50% over the previous year. At the same time, the overseas manufacturers are likely to achieve numbers similar to the previous year – or at most increase them by one or two presses. They are feeling the crunch not only from the local manufacturers but also from the supply chain and energy issues in Europe and North America that have increased their prices by 10% to 15%.

The Indian press suppliers are confident about their competitiveness in the local market and optimistic about exports. They are hoping to increase their capacities within the year – to anywhere from 30% to 200%.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

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