September 13, 2011 11:08 ET

U.S. Label Shipments to Reach $20 Billion in 2015

ROCKVILLE, MD--(Marketwire - Sep 13, 2011) - has announced the addition of the new report "Labels" to their collection of General Packaging market reports. For more information, visit

US label shipments are forecast to reach $20 billion in 2015. 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 and heat-shrink, and in-mold labels. Among these, heat-shrink labels are projected to rise 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 in a crowded marketplace.

Paper will remain by far the leading stock material in the label industry for the near future. However, it will continue to lose market share to plastic, which will account for more than one-quarter of label shipments by 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 and 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.

Most US labels are printed in some manner before sale to the final user. Flexography represents the leading printing method, benefiting from its prominent position in the pressure sensitive and sleeve label segments. Additional printing technologies include lithography, screen, letterpress, gravure and digital. Among these, digital printing will enjoy the most rapid gains, expanding at a double-digit annual pace through the forecast period. Label converters will increasingly invest in digital presses to capitalize on trends favoring shorter label runs and mass customization, particularly as product personalization functions as a key marketing tool. Different printing processes can also be combined in an effort to create higher quality label graphics. This trend will have a positive effect on the use of screen and digital technologies.

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), given that 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 bar coding labels in the transportation and distribution sector, along with the significant potential for smart labeling markets such as food safety applications. Demand for mailing and shipping labels will continue to benefit from the increasingly widespread use of Internet shopping, as many items that were previously shipped in large volumes to retail stores are now mailed directly to individual customers.

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