U.S. Demand for Labels: $20 Billion by 2015

U.S. label shipments are forecast to rise 4.8 percent annually to $20 billion in 2015, according to “Labels,” a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm. The pressure sensitive segment will continue to dominate output, accounting for more than 70 percent of the total.

Although pressure sensitive labels will expand at a healthy rate, they will continue to face growing competition from alternative labeling methods such as stretch sleeve, heat-shrink and in-mold labels. Among these, heat-shrink labels are projected to advance at the fastest rate through 2015, with gains attributable to their ability to form-fit contoured containers, providing 360-degree graphics and a broad promotional area which enable consumer products to stand out on crowded store shelves.

Paper will remain by far the leading stock material in the label industry for the foreseeable future. However, it will continue to lose market share to plastic, which will account for more than one-quarter of label shipments in 2015. Plastic stock materials will gain popularity due to their aesthetic and performance advantages over paper, as well as a broad shift in favor of plastic packaging. Moreover, plastic is heavily utilized in pressure sensitive, heat-shrink, stretch sleeve, in-mold and thermal transfer labels, each of which is expected to grow at a healthy rate.

Among plastic label resins, polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride are widely used, although the latter will lose out to other plastic substrates with lower perceived environmental and health risks. In particular, trends favoring more environmentally friendly substrates will propel gains for polylactic acid, albeit from a very small base.

Primary packaging represents the leading application for labels in the US market. Label demand in this sector will be driven by a shift in product mix favoring higher-value label types (including large, full-body labels, plastic labels and those featuring higher-end inks and printing technologies), as labels play a crucial role in the building of brand identity in an intensely competitive consumer product marketplace.

However, the secondary packaging and mailing and shipping segments will achieve more rapid demand gains. In secondary labeling, advances will be supported by the penetration of barcoding labels in the transportation and distribution sector, along with the significant potential for smart labeling markets such as food safety applications.

US LABEL SHIPMENTS
(million dollars)
% Annual Growth
Item 2005 2010 2015 2005- 2010 2010- 2015
Label Shipments 13220 15840 20000 3.7 4.8
Pressure Sensitive 9160 11000 14160 3.7 5.2
Glue-Applied 2445 2735 3200 2.3 3.2
Stretch Sleeve & Heat-Shrink 830 1180 1520 7.3 5.2
Thermal Transfer 230 265 340 2.9 5.1
In-Mold 185 260 330 7.0 4.9
Other 370 400 450 1.6 2.4

© 2011 by The Freedonia Group, Inc.

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