Digital Magazine

Several Issues Foretell A Tough 2004

At a one-day release liner industry review and update seminar held by AWA at the end of last year, we canvassed the delegates' on the likely trends in 2004

Despite indications the global economy is recovering, there were a number of issues cited by the delegates as business-critical. At the top of the list were the need to reduce costs, continuing consolidation (though this is slowing), and the threats posed by new coating technologies such as curtain coating. The pressures imposed by globalization also are impacting the industry in the face of emerging competition from Asian manufacturers and currency issues — both in relation to maintaining margins and in managing exchange rate issues.

The industry continues to suffer from overcapacity and is looking to develop its products to meet the needs of the end-users for enhanced performance without increased costs. The increasing popularity of film liners, with their ability to accommodate high dispensing speeds, coupled with end-users' needs to achieve “more labels per reel,” are fueling the development of paper liners at lower grammages, as well as innovations in high-strength, fast-running release papers.

The release liner market continues to be impacted by the macro issues in today's converting industries: low growth and the impact of shorter runs on productivity and profitability. Shrink sleeves are taking real market share from self-adhesives, and environmental concerns — particularly in view of the tougher recycling targets now proposed in the EU — have never been more prevalent.

Overall, our seminar delegates did not expect 2004 to be an easy year — and with alternative technologies to self-adhesive for product identification and decoration now widely available to end-users, AWA shares their concerns.

AWA Alexander Watson Assoc. is an international market research consultant company for the converting and packaging industries. Learn more at awa-bv.com

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