Global market update from Alexander Watson Associates

Label industry continues to grow


According to Alexander Watson Associates’ (AWA) researches, pressure-sensitive labelling continues to represent a 40% share of the global labelling technologies market, while the old-established glue applied technology claims second place, with a 35% market share, and the sleeve labelling technologies now represent a solid 19% share – and are still growing. AWA’s 2019 Labelling and Product Decoration Annual Review draws a detailed portrait of a market which, like all aspects of the packaging industry, is changing.

Current market status

In 2018, AWA estimated that worldwide demand for all label types approximated to 64,245 million square meters – a healthy growth of 4.4% over 2017 volumes, in line with global GDP. The largest regional market continues to be Asia, with a 44% market share, and the leading growth drivers around the world include China, India, South-East Asia, and the eastern European countries.

Major growth contributors

VIP labels are a major contributory force, reflecting the increased activity in eCommerce and transportation and logistics. This is particularly true for pressure-sensitive labels, which command the majority share of VIP labelling.

Sleeve labels – particularly heat-shrink sleeves – continue to provide the main source of competition to pressure-sensitive and glue-applied labels in the food and beverage market segments, and also to the in-mold labelling formats in household chemicals.

Major competitors

All the label formats are now competing with direct-to-package print, in terms of flexible packaging in particular, which is growing strongly in both the developed and emerging markets. An additional competitor is direct digital print to plastic, glass, and metal containers, which offers added brand-owner feature option in terms of limited editioning and personalization. The current focus on sustainability is also favoring renewed growth in printed carton board packaging. These alternative technologies are all benefiting from growth rates higher than those for traditional labelling.

Overall view

The changing market profile, along with raw material pricing , mergers and acquisition activities in the industry, choice of labelling substrate, and perceptions of the market’s future directions are at the heart of this 13th AWA Global Labelling & Product Decoration Market Update 2019. Featuring enhanced data on primary product labelling, end-user markets both globally and regionally, and label market growth trends, the report complements the company’s in-depth studies that closely monitor the behavior of individual geographical markets, labelling technologies and end-use markets for labels and product decoration. Full details are available on the website, The report may also be ordered online.

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The multi-channel B2B in print and digital 17-year-old platform matches the industry’s growth trajectory. The Indian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle East packaging industries are looking beyond the resilience of the past three years. They are resuming capacity expansion and diversification, with high technology and automation in new plants and projects.

As we present our 2024 publishing plan, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2024 will exceed 6%. The packaging industry growth will match the GDP growth in volume terms and surpass it by at least 3% in terms of nominal growth allowing for price inflation in energy, raw materials, consumables, and capital equipment.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are grown similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

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