Where Packaging Fits in the Top 25 Hot Markets for Printing
With a boost in the economy, an evolving political climate, and shifting consumer preferences, the printing industry has been one of rapid change. In 2020, the industry appears to be on the upswing, and it is expected to be one of the best years ever for print sales, with the packaging segment on the forefront of this wave of good fortune.
For the past 40 years, Vincent Mallardi, a printing industry analyst, has researched and reported on the top print buying markets for our sister publication Printing Impressions. With the launch of the 2020 report earlier this month, two of the key takeaways are the encouragingly positive projection for print as a whole, and the essential role of packaging in print’s future.
As Mallardi reports, the packaged foods market is expected to spend the most on print this year, at nearly $20 billion — approximately 1.4% of the total $1.433 trillion in revenue that the segment is expected to bring in.
What’s particularly interesting to see though, is where the growth is expected to come from. While digital printing has demonstrated its capabilities to produce intriguing labels and packaging, it is still in its very early stages of adoption. Much of this growth in packaged foods, Mallardi explains, is less about a new technology and more about a specific type of packaging.
A 15% increase in wide-web flexographically printed polyethylene stretch wrap is expected, Mallardi states — evidence that the flexible packaging segment can still be considered to be a high-growth area.
While flexo-printed flexible packaging is on the rise, Mallardi projects a decrease in individual-carton packaged foods, as well as prepared products in bottles and cans. This projection may sound alarming to folding carton and label printers, but the good news is that the decline in bottled and canned prepared products is expected to be modest, at just 3%. Meanwhile, opportunities for folding carton printers to expand outside of the food segment into areas like cosmetics and pharmaceuticals — where demand for folding cartons is still high — are there for the taking.
Similarly, as food items transition away from rigid packages like cartons and cans, label printers are seeing opportunities to transition into flexible packaging using narrow-web flexographic presses, and certain digital presses.
Taking a look at the rest of the top 25, it’s encouraging to see many market segments that dedicate much of their print expenditures to packaging. In fact, medical and pharmaceutical comes in at No. 2, and there’s no denying the importance of packaging and labels in that segment. With technology that has advanced to a point where packaging security solutions are becoming more robust, it will not be surprising to see brands in the medical/pharma space seeking a packaging refresh that includes aspects like invisible ink, digital watermarks, and serialization.
One surprising segment highlighted in Mallardi’s report is the beverage market, which he projects will be relatively flat at the No. 7 position. A $535 billion industry with $10.7 billion expected in print expenditures, the beverage segment has just one category that has emerged as high growth. Mallardi details that cannabis-infused drinks are expected to see a 166% boost, though he does caution that this is also a high-risk segment due to a lack of industry standards.
With 25 hot markets to consider, this roundup of the top segments for the printing industry is one of the most comprehensive projections of print’s direction for the year ahead. Be sure to check out all of the segments where opportunity abounds!