Strong growth is forecast for in-mold labeling through 2019

Kate Bertrand Connolly in Labels on September 01, 2015

The 2015 Labels study from The Freedonia Group Inc. indicates that in-mold labeling (IML) will grow the most rapidly of all primary-packaging label technologies through 2019, with stretch, sleeve and heat-shrink labels also experiencing solid growth.

For IML, the study reveals an annual growth rate of 4.7% between 2009 and 2014 and predicts a growth rate of 5.4% between 2014 and 2019, based on U.S. demand. According to the study report, “Advances will be driven by the growing range of container types and applications using IML labels, coupled with advantages of superior graphics and increases in the number of companies with IML molding capability.”

(Note: Applications for IML range beyond the purely decorative. Ana’s Foods worked with injection molder IPL to develop a salsa package that uses an in-mold label as a structural component. The package—a partly rigid, partly flexible container that’s produced by fusing in-mold label film to a rigid plastic frame—won the Diamond Award in the 2015 DuPont Packaging Awards.)

Freedonia also considered demand for stretch/sleeve/heat-shrink, pressure-sensitive, glue-applied, heat-transfer and “other” labels; the latter included non-shrink wraparound, heat-seal, gummed and foam labels. Demand for stretch/sleeve/heat-shrink labels grew 4.3% between 2009 and 2014 and is forecast to grow 4.9% between 2014 and 2019.

The study predicts overall demand for labels in the United States to grow 3.8% per year, reaching $19.7 billion in 2019.

Although primary packaging is the foremost labeling application, commanding almost 50% of demand in 2014, secondary packaging and mailing/shipping applications are expected to experience strong growth in the next five years. Freedonia predicts that mailing/shipping labels will have “among the fastest rates of growth,” with demand growing 4.5% annually, to $1.6 billion in 2019.

The study credits online shopping for much of that growth: “Gains will be based on continued rapid expansion of Internet shopping due to its convenience and the advantages it offers in terms of researching and comparing products.

“As the online marketplace has emerged as a significant generator of retail sales, many items which were previously shipped in large volumes to retail stores are now mailed directly to individual consumers, thus significantly increasing the total number of labels used in package shipping applications.”

The June 2015 Labels study is available as a full document or can be purchased by the page or section. The price for the full document is $5,500.

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