Last updateMon, 01 Feb 2021 12pm

Konica Minolta highlights four label printing trends for 2021

Product manufacturer demands and changing consumer behaviour accelerate transition to digital label production

The past few months have presented unique challenges and opportunities for printers and print service providers offering label printing. Many print service providers have been able to use the crisis period to flexibly expand their business and prepare for the future. Thus, the digital label printing market in particular is expected to prove resilient in 2021. Konica Minolta has taken a closer look at four market developments for the coming year.
The Corona pandemic has led to a significant acceleration in technology trends that were already underway. These include the automation of the printing process, the purchase of printed materials through online offerings and web shops, and the continued transition from the analogue to the digital world.
1 Digital label printing is increasingly in demand
A number of studies provide information on this. For example, IDC's "Western Europe Digital Label and Packaging Printer Forecast, 2020-2024" makes clear that product manufacturers' demands are accelerating the transition from analogue to digital label printing: "Digital printing enables brands and manufacturers to respond quickly to customer demands. It also allows them to optimise manufacturing as well as the supply chain, reduce inventory costs and waste, and accelerate time to market.
2 Digital label printing becomes attractive for printers
Growth in digital label production is set to continue: "Label and packaging producers will be forced to expand their digital service offerings as traditional offset/flexo volumes continue to erode over time," says the report. It is therefore not surprising that more and more traditional label producers are interested in switching to digital printing. This will continue in 2021, as digital is the only technology capable of profitably delivering short to medium runs with a fast turnaround time.
However, IDC also speaks of a slowdown in printing system sales due to factors such as the cancellation of drupa in 2020 as well as 2021 and the impact of Covid-19. Although sales of digital label and packaging printing systems fell by almost a third to just over 200 units in Western Europe last year, IDC expects the market to recover significantly. The market analysts assume about 450 units will be sold in 2024, which is roughly the level predicted before the pandemic.
However, the requirements on the part of label producers are also changing: demand is growing for systems that can map the complete manufacturing process end-to-end. There is also a growing demand for production systems that can manage with fewer and fewer operators.
In the future, labels will continue to be an elementary aspect of a functioning supply chain and an essential instrument for conveying information. Growth segments for digital label printing in 2021 will be found in the healthcare, pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries.
3. The crisis helps digital label printing
As in 2020, digital label production will continue to take market share away from flexo printing in the coming year. It was precisely from the above-mentioned industries that demand for digitally printed labels was high at the beginning of the pandemic. This is because the surge in demand in the health and food sectors meant that large quantities of packaging and thus also labels and tags were needed quickly. In March 2020, according to a Konica Minolta survey, printed page volume in linear metres on AccurioLabel printing systems across Europe grew 150% month-on-month.
4. a trend that has come to stay
Consumer behaviour continues to evolve: more and more people are working from home, which is fuelling online retail. Likewise, the trend is towards low quantities or individualised offers. One example is the development in the food trade, where regional manufactories are increasingly important. Digitally created labels are a must here in terms of profitability. It is to be expected that the positive market development in the field of digital label production will consolidate sustainably in the coming years.
Toner-based printing systems in particular will play an important part in this. Another IDC study[1] breaks down the market by manufacturer. According to this study, Konica Minolta achieved a market share of 19.1% in Western Europe in terms of sales volume and value in the field of digital label and packaging printing systems in 2019. Konica Minolta entered this market just under four years ago and already boasts a label customer base of more than 500 toner-based AccurioPress installations, 200 of which are located in Europe alone.



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