Label and packaging industry predictions for 2024 – insights from Konica Minolta

Langenhagen, Germany | 15 December 2023

Comment by Sacha-Vittorio Paolucci, Head of Industrial Print Business Development at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe

In a world of uncertainty where a perceived global downturn in overall print production is part of the equation, it is heartening to see that digital labels, packaging and embellishment are shining brightly.

A need for greater automation and for innovative end-to-end ecosystems will continue to be high on the agenda and an essential driver forward for industry stakeholders such as converters, brands, and suppliers. An increased focus on complete production workflows in packaging and label sectors is also helping converters to rethink possibilities in a world of new opportunities. 

With labelling and packaging requirements becoming ever more complex as data demands grow, compliance and regulatory environments tighten, the supply chain increasingly relies on labelling as a vital source of traceability.

Poised for yet more substantial growth 

All these factors point to a narrative that Europe’s digital label and packaging markets – and indeed those across the world – are poised for yet more substantial growth. “Demand for digitally printed packaging remained generally high with products such as labels being produced in volume and no longer being confined to short-run promotional work,” said Smithers in its print equipment markets global overview¹. Similarly, digitally printed corrugate saw high demand from the packaging industry.  

Manufacturing, retail, transportation, textiles, food and drink, and logistics are all among the important factors that have made the digital production of labels become a mainstream technology, with many markets in packaging at the tipping point and ripe for digital production. 

Drinks market takes to digital technology 

The drinks business is one sector where we will see customers grow their business exponentially with digital label printing coupled with label embellishment in the coming years. Tactile effects with varnish and foils are becoming increasingly important in wine-buyers decision-making. You can find out more about the tangible ‘wow!’ effects on paper by reading a specialist blog from Konica Minolta here.  

The confidence in digitally produced wine labels is also backed up by industry experts². “Over the next five years new digital embellishment technologies will encourage the use of shorter run lengths, something that the wine market will be keen to embrace,” said the Smithers report. “Also, with the growth of premium priced wines, security and anti-counterfeiting built into the label is becoming more important to the wineries.”  

Anti-counterfeiting possibilities, including an innovative and state-of-the-art inkjet customisation project with Industrial Inkjet Ltd (IIJ), were an important part of our presence at Labelexpo last September. Our AccurioLabel 230 press was configured with Grafisk Maskinfabrik’s (GM) DC330Mini. IIJ, which is a recognised global expert in security printing with UV inks, also showed other reactive possibilities as part of the setup that drew the crowds to our stand.  

Igniting print possibilities for winemakers 

Our long-standing customer, Firus Druck, is one example of how its growth into digital label production has been nothing short of spectacular. The label converter serving local, national and international wine producers was one of the first customers of our AccurioLabel 400, the latest single-pass toner-based press in our portfolio. You can read the full story here and watch on YouTube here.  

As European market share leader in digital label press systems (Infosource), we will continue to push the boundaries to help converters ignite their printing possibilities. We believe that closer collaborations with customers and partners, ongoing commitments to revolutionising printing technologies and improving efficiencies will be crucial in the years ahead.  

Workflow, software and process automation, together with cloud solutions, are also key efficiency drivers as part of the drive towards the ‘smart factory’. 

A commitment to customers and innovation 

Our unflinching commitment to customers and innovation was demonstrated at Labelexpo last September. The show provided the perfect platform to announce that we have now installed more than 1,200 of our AccurioLabel presses globally. And this is a market we entered less than a decade ago.  

Despite the buoyancy in digital label-making, overall growth predictions for the sector are said to have a “soft outlook”. This will continue at  least through the first half of 2024, according to recent Finat³ market analysis.   

One of the negative trends remarkably is a “continuous deceleration” in e-commerce sales, which has been a significant driver in recent years. “The slowdown is here to stay, as postpandemic tailwinds fade and as high inflation and rising interest rates significantly curb demand,” says the report.   

Notwithstanding that we have made huge strides in label markets, we also acknowledge the significant challenges that will be faced in the year ahead for our customers. Our gut feeling, however, that is that issues they face such as the supply of raw materials will begin ease. This is despite a Gartner⁴ report that pointed to a survey in 2021 revealing 68% of supply chain leaders constantly commented on high-impact disruptions and that 79% of organisations with 500-plus employees want to be better prepared for risk over the next few years.

A commitment to active training programmes 

In addition to supply-and-demand issues, all our customers – including printers, converters, CRDs and corporates - are not immune to other indirect effects of world events. The pandemic and enforced lockdown meant a significant number of experienced employees retired early, adding to skilled labour shortages, and there are increasing trends towards working from home.  

However, we believe that our customers will look to commit more funding for attractive training programmes, continuous staff development, as well as accommodating a work-life balance. The fact that our products are easy to use for our customers makes the jobs for the talents they are seeking more attractive. And why not look to hire more young talent – and train them yourselves! You can read more about our approach in this blog⁵. 

Ever-more important in the future will be Industry 5.0 – the emerging phase of industrialisation where humans work alongside advanced technology and artificial intelligence-powered robots to enhance workplace processes. All this will bring the human-centricity back into Industry 4.0, as well as increased resilience and an improved focus on sustainability. 

Whatever lies ahead, our commitment remains to deliver the best possible service to all our employees, clients and partners.

¹ Smithers, The Future of Global Print Equipment Markets to 2028. Market overview, – printing equipment markets, 2018–28, page 19
² 2 Smithers, The Impact on Changing Run Lengths in Packaging and Labels to 2027, page 146
³ Report & Analysis: The European Narrow Web Market, Finat Radar 21, Q3, page 4
⁴ Case Study: How Supply Chain Risk and Resilience Can Deliver Competitive Advantage, published June 2023
⁵ Konica Minolta, See the Potential Blog: Hire young talent – and train them yourself!  

About Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe

Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe GmbH, based in Langenhagen, Germany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Konica Minolta Inc., Tokyo, Japan. With its unique expertise in imaging, data processing and data-based decision making, Konica Minolta creates relevant solutions for its customers - small and medium-sized businesses, large enterprises and public sector - and solves issues faced by society.

As a digital workplace solution provider, Konica Minolta helps its clients to identify and unlock the potential digitalisation holds and reach the next level in the digital maturity of their organisation by rethinking the workplace. In support of an ‘Intelligent connected workplace’, Konica Minolta offers cloud, IT, managed print and video solution services for remote working, collaboration, workflow management and automation and security. The company’s success in driving transformation is also confirmed by IDC, since the ‘IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Print Transformation 2023 Vendor Assessment’ has named Konica Minolta a “Leader” in print transformation. Konica Minolta has been a Microsoft Global Managed Partner since 2021.

Konica Minolta's Igniting Print Possibilities offering helps printers, converters and brand owners maximise workflow automation to increase efficiency. The company delivers consultancy in all communication matters as well as top-of-the-line production, packaging as well as label printers. Its finishing devices create print products that stand out and create added value. Konica Minolta has established itself as the production printing market leader for more than a decade in Europe (InfoSource).

For an increasing number of organisations, success today is more than the narrow definition of financial prosperity – it also includes protecting the environment and having a positive impact on their workforce as well as the societies they are embedded in. With its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Konica Minolta has pledged to consistently pursue its sustainability and social responsibility goals.

The company has been repeatedly recognised for its rich history of social contribution as well as for working towards achieving the SDGs throughout its business and supply chain. Konica Minolta received a GOLD Level Recognition Medal in the EcoVadis sustainability ratings for 2024.

For its remote services, Konica Minolta was awarded the prestigious ‘Buyers Lab (BLI) 2023-2024 Pacesetter Award in Remote Service for the Western European market’ from Keypoint Intelligence.

Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe is represented by subsidiaries and distributors in more than 80 countries in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. With more than 8,800 employees (as of April 2024), Konica Minolta Europe earned net sales of over EUR 2.13 billion in financial year 2023/2024.

Worldwide, the company has over 40,000 employees and is operating in over 150 countries.

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Silke Ehmann-Cotichini

Team Manager Brand Positioning & Architecture, Content Strategy & Development

Corporate Communications International Marketing Division

+49 (0) 511 7404-5604