The packaging market will continue to grow in the next few years, along with directly related activities such as packaging printing. According to the report The Future of Global Printing, published by the international consultancy firm Smithers Pira, packaging demand will exceed US$1 trillion in 2025, while the packaging printing market will be worth US$45 billion. Much of this growth is due to the expansion of e-commerce, which has a direct impact on how each product is packaged, labelled and marketed.
In 2021, packaging is, without a doubt, a differentiating factor, an added value that results in competitive advantages. Innovative designs in flexible packages, especially in the food and cosmetics industries, have become a need for manufacturers, who are competing to offer the best consumer experience.
Innovative designs make it necessary to improve printing techniques. “The increases in printing costs and complexity brought about by the boom in disruptive flexible packages will speed up the development of the printing market for the packaging industry at a compound annual growth rate of 7%”, forecasted the Smithers Pira report.
A more competitive market also needs faster commercialisation processes, making a more efficient supply chain another major factor in the development of printing technologies.
The influence of the COVID-19 pandemic
The trends observed in previous years have been accelerated by the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with regard to the consolidation of e-commerce, sustainability and shorter print runs, and they will continue to set the tone for the market in 2021.
E-commerce increases the demand for shipping labels
If internet sales are a growing niche market, label printing systems that facilitate logistics operations throughout the supply chain will mark the difference. Companies need to improve their productivity and precision. They can do this with smart labels, which include traceability systems to optimise every stage of the route of a good, from production through to delivery to the end consumer. And, of course, it is very important for the printing to be of high quality and long-lasting to ensure that the information necessary to track each article is not lost.
In the pharmaceutical industry, vaccination to stop the pandemic is an enormous challenge in which the labelling industry is playing a leading role. The extreme conservation needs of certain vaccines mean that coding systems not only have to be effective at temperatures of below -70 ºC, but also contribute to the safety guarantees of an extremely complex process, by incorporating, for example, systems that can warn of possible breaks in the cold chain.
The importance of sustainability
Sustainability in industrial processes is a trend that affects all sectors, not just with regard to carbon footprint reduction (decreased consumption of raw materials and energy resources, waste minimisation, recycling...), but also economic efficiency. The pandemic has affected numerous businesses and their fight for survival has fostered the automation of the supply chain both in printing and marking systems and the remote control of equipment.
Regarding environmental sustainability, government regulations are becoming increasingly restrictive and consumers are tending towards rewarding practices that respect the planet. Accordingly, ecological packaging has progressed from a largely anecdotal trend to a growing force in the industry, and this obviously includes coding and labelling systems.
Mono-material packages, which avoid laminating and its recycling problems, and printing technologies that eliminate the need for solvents and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), minimise waste without affecting quality and can withstand extreme conditions without suffering any damage. These are the differentiating competitive advantages in 2021.
UBS equipment meets the market’s demands
At UBS we develop labeling, coding and marking systems to meet the needs of each customer and achieve optimisation in every process. We provide our own management software, UBS LabMan, a powerful tool that is intuitive to use.
We are specialists in the use of UV led curing technology, which meets customers productivity and sustainability demands, offering the best quality printing on non-porous surfaces with Inkjet and Thermal Inkjet printing systems. For these we also make oil- and water-based inks, respectively, which are free of VOCs, toxic components and mineral oils and are certified by international regulators.