Label Lookout: Dollar Value, Production Volume Up Through 2026

Smithers’ latest market report, The Future of Printed Labels to 2026, issued in early October, placed the value of the global printed label market at $41.75 million in 2021. Production volumes equated to 1.21 billion A4 units.

Analysts observed, “The market grew by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3 percent in volume and 3.7 percent in value between 2016 and 2019, however, it contracted 1.1 percent in volume and 0.8 percent in value in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

After crunching all available data, forecasters concluded, “Demand for printed labels is expected to recover swiftly, with a return to pre-pandemic levels of activity projected to take place during 2021, leading to 6.6 percent growth by volume and 5.8 percent by value compared to 2020.”

Of note, Smithers researchers reported, “Use of pressure-sensitive labels and sleeves is increasing, with the traditional wet glue label falling out of favor in most regions. Ongoing growth is expected from 2020 onwards at a slightly subdued rate compared to the early days of the review period with 4.0 percent CAGR by volume and 2.9 percent CAGR in value terms forecast for the five years to 2026.” Details follow:

  • Pressure-sensitive labels had the largest market share in 2021 with consumption of 538.6 billion A4 equivalents, valued at $24.9 billion
  • Pressure-sensitive labels accounted for 44.6 percent of the volume and 55.3 percent of the value. Use of this label type is increasing. Growth is forecast at 5.2 percent CAGR by volume and 4.0 percent by value between 2021 and 2026
  • Wet glue labels, the second-most-used label type, represented 37.5 percent of the volume and 19.0 percent of the value in 2021, with demand of 452.9 billion A4 equivalents, worth $7.9 billion
  • Wet glue labels are forecast to grow by 2.3 percent in volume and 0.8 percent in value between 2021 and 2026, but are being slowly substituted by pressure-sensitive labels
  • Asia is the largest geographic region for printed labels. In 2021, it had a share of 45.4 percent of global volume and 36.0 percent of the value, worth $15.0 billion against a volume of 549.2 billion A4 equivalents. That market is forecast to grow at 4.5 percent CAGR in value and 5.7 percent in volume between 2021 and 2026
  • North America and Western Europe are the next two largest markets for printed labels and with Asia, these three regions combined account for 86 percent of the value and 81.1 percent of the volume in 2021
  • Digital printing technologies form part of the answer to dealing with the increase in demand for short-to-medium-run labels, and digital technology has evolved to the point where it is becoming a viable technology for all print run lengths