Label and release liner market to grow by $8.6 billion over next five years

World demand for labels and shrink sleeve materials will be worth $41.59 billion in 2021, as the segment recovers from the unprecedented disruption of 2020. In a year blighted by COVID, world value fell by -0.6%. As a degree of economic stability returns Smithers forecasts this market is set to grow at a steady compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.0% for 2021-2026, creating a market worth $48.32 billion in 2026.

This insight is drawn from Smithers new dedicated study of this market – The Future of Label and Release Liner Markets to 2026 – which charts the evolution in label substrates post-COVID and through to 2026. Published today it finds that this will see the total surface area of label media rise from 72.21 billion metres square in 2021, to 87.20 billion metres square in 2026.

Around 90% of labels are used with consumer products, with the remaining 10% used in industrial, commercial and logistics applications. Both have been shaped by the experience of COVID-19. For consumer sales the greater use of e-commerce has improved sales of tracking and logistics labels. This has not compensated for the impact of an overall fall in retail sales, which has especially affected labels for non-essential segments, such as personal care and luxury goods.

The demand for release liners has also been impacted by COVID-19, falling by -1.6% to reach $8.25 billion in 2020. A resurgence will lift market value to $8.80 billion in 2021, a future CAGR of 4.0% for 2021-2026 will push this to $10.70 billion in 2026.

As the market recovers there will be shifts in the use of label and release liner stocks use. Of the six label formats covered in the report (pressure-sensitive, wet glue, pre-gummed, in-mould labels, shrink sleeves, stretch sleeves) pressure-sensitive adhesive labels will continued to dominate, rising to 64% of the market by value in 2026.  Wet glued labels and plastic heat shrink film labels will account for about 15%, each; shrink and stretch sleeves will also see accelerated growth through to 2026.

For release liners, film and new paper substrates will increasingly replace calendared and coated kraft grades.

There will be a number of other dynamic market shifts in the label and release liner market over the five-year Smithers forecast period.

-Asian economies will continue to underpin global growth, with a 4.9% forecast CAGR over 2021-2026. Developing economies in Eastern Europe, Southwest Asia and the Middle East, and elsewhere will enjoy higher than average growth rates. Mature, developed economies – North America, Western Europe, Japan – will experience significantly lower growth, generally tracking local GDP and population growth trends.

-As brand owners look to commission shorter print runs of premium labels, it is coinciding with the arrival of a new generation of narrow-web inkjet presses, stimulating demand for more label stocks optimised for digital printing.

-Simultaneously brand owners will look for substrates that can give a premium look, carry higher quality graphics and can accommodate new print embellishment effects, such as tactile finishes.

-Sustainability will increasingly be a priority for packaging and label buyers – this will reward material companies that have invested in down-gauging, stocks made with greater recycled content, and liner-less labels.

-Companies across supply chains are enthusiastic about the potential of smart or intelligent labels. Leveraging technology like QR codes, or embedded RFID antennas, new options will be available to monitor and track a package’s location, condition and history.

The market impact for all these and other trends that are defining the selection and use of labels and release liners over 2016-2026 is analysed expertly in the Smithers report. Its qualitative analysis is founded in and informs its comprehensive data set, presented in over 150 tables and figures. This segments the market (volume and value) by label type, release liner type, print process, end-use application, geographic region and leading national market.