Recent developments in labels and packaging suit the Australian and New Zealand markets.
Manufacturers and producers who require packaging and labels have found that commoditisation of product no longer leads to automatic growth, especially in mature markets. For some time, a trend to smaller product runs of specific products, and targeting distinct markets, has seen a corresponding change in the packaging and labelling of these products.
Even massive commodity producers like dairy giant Fonterra have begun moving to value-add concepts and re-packaging of products like milk powder for greater profits. In many areas, the products change slightly but sufficiently to need new labels or packaging, requiring agility on the part of the packaging and label companies to respond with new designs and quickly.
Commercial print companies looking to move into labels and packaging should find themselves untroubled by this movement to smaller volumes and flexibility in turnaround times. After all, they have experienced this in their own industry for a considerable time now.
Small to medium sized print companies can offer manufacturers flexibility and the capability to produce short runs quickly, as long as it has the right technology, workflow, design, and attitude. You already have most of the skills and knowledge to move into short run-quick turnaround labels and packaging.
Already, a number of local printers have taken up the challenge and have found excellent margins, especially in the niche areas.
Questions for those wanting to improve their margins here, and for those wanting to get into labels and packaging generally centre around, ‘How can we make it profitable and who has the technology we need to make it work’.
Print and finishing equipment manufacturers and suppliers who saw this trend coming have already placed new kit into the market. The number of new digital label printers continues to grow at a pace, alongside digital finishing equipment and the hardware and software to drive it all.
Print companies that have already moved into using advanced administration and production process workflows will see commonalities with modern labels and packaging production. Both industries now use MIS, management information systems, that integrate with inspection and colour management software with the aim of mitigating errors with less human contact through the end to end production process.
Several of the smaller print companies that have moved into labels find themselves doing work for some of the big packaging and label companies simply because they can complete the jobs faster and they can quickly adapt their workflows faster than the large companies.
Increasingly, we see labels and packaging companies, like print companies, moving to greater automation. Everyone now understands the value of a machine that can work continuously without making an error as opposed to a human operator, feeling tired in the middle of shift. However, the market still has a place for boutique label making and packaging. Some customers prefer the human touch, especially for quite small runs.
Every manufacturer and seller wants its product branded in a way that separates it from the competition. The good news here is that colour management and MIS continue to progress in leaps and bounds which means companies investing in labels and packaging can offer high quality printed products at speed. This will get even better as research and development money keeps the software growing and updates keep coming.
We now see printed labels and packages with even more vibrant colours and interesting finishing enhancements and embellishments. Options such as foils, special varnishes, soft touch finishes have become more common and the digital manufacturers have already begun imitating them.
Anyone moving into packaging needs to consider flexo. Brand owners still love flexible packaging not just because it offers high quality branding. Designers can build in convenience and functionality as well as sustainability to flexo. The advantages of packaging that helps extend shelf appeal; offers functionality such as ease of opening and resealing; comfortable to carry; makes storage simple; and needs less material combine to make flexo worth considering
Sustainability matters. Packaging plays a vital role in areas of sustainability such as food safety and the reduction of food waste. Whole of life manufacturing will become more significant as consumers increase their awareness of how what they purchase affects the environment. Labels and packaging will respond to consumer challenges with light weight and reusable and recyclable materials.
Commercial print companies wanting to find new revenue streams through labels and packaging don’t need to wait for a green light. The solutions and the opportunity exists now.
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