Smithers Pira Reports on Application, Automation, Hybridization & Globalization in Label Printing: 2020-2024

The global market for label printing has been growing steadily in recent times, coming in at a value of $41.02 billion in 2019, according to The Future of Label Printing to 2024, a new report from Smithers Pira. The market will continue to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4 percent to reach a value of $49.9 billion by 2024.

Flexography controls the largest share of the market at 32.4 percent, but its growth lines of 3.1 percent annually are being outpaced by digital. Flexography, which has been used to print 403 billion A4 prints or the equivalent, has a value of $13.3 billion, with an annual growth rate of 4.4 percent in production volume over 2014-2019. Still, digital printing is beginning to overshadow analog for label printing. Other analog processes, such as letterpress, are losing share across the globe in the key pressure-sensitive label market.

Printed Label Market by Region, 1.211 Trillion A4 Prints or Equivalent, 2019

All data courtesy of Smithers Pira

Inkjet is expected to dominate digital printing. Electrophotography, while the larger of the two digital print processes in 2019, is losing ground as inkjet has been growing at a much faster rate since 2014. With continuing high growth in its use, inkjet will overtake electrophotography in volume before 2024, according to Smithers Pira data.

Key Drivers

Changes in consumer demand patterns due to the growing number of smaller households are boosting the number of products needing labels, while growth in e-commerce is driving increased demand for transit (and return) labels, Smithers Pira research shows.

E-commerce is booming as online shopping sales continue to post robust growth, which has had a positive effect on corrugated packaging. With this ongoing growth and the fact that more than 90 percent of all US products are delivered or transported in corrugated paper packaging, e-commerce is a key driver for the corrugated paper market, and thus, label production.

“Globally, beverage label demand had the highest growth rate in volume from 2014 to 2019 at nearly 6 percent per annum, reaching 623 billion prints or equivalent, at a value of $18.4 billion.”

Middle-class households have shown a decline in purchasing power, leading to brands and retailers having fewer traditional customers to serve. Middle-class growth in South East Asia, Latin America and other emerging markets is key for label demand. The rise of single-person households, mainly in Europe and North America, will fuel demand for innovations in packaging and printing for cleverly designed packs and labels to keep pace with how consumers’ requests are shifting as a function of generational and household changes.

Increasing regulatory pressure has led to market growth in some regions. This has accelerated the move to shorter production runs as brands respond to personalization and customization trends that have placed greater emphasis on the flexibility of printer and converter operations, and on the presses themselves. All of these trends are being shaped by greater application of digital printing.