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Why switch from Paper to Pressure Sensitive Labels?

Expert Interview: More and more beverage producers switch from paper to so-called Pressure Sensitive Labels. Why? We spoke to Brian Fischer, label expert at Constantia Flexibles.


Constantia Flexibles: Is a bottle label just a label or do they evolve?

Brian Fischer: There certainly has been a big development when it comes to bottle labels. Back in 1970 only about 5% of all North American labels were pressure sensitive labels (PSL) while they represent approximately 65% of the market today.

Driving the growth is that they offer a glue free labelling option providing a wide range of high quality materials, label application efficiencies and durable label performance.

Constantia Flexibles: So Pressure Sensitive Labels are the labels of the future?

Brian Fischer: In the beverage industry that is definitely the trend – but it also depends on the beverage type. In the wine industry 90 percent of the labels are Pressure Sensitive, about 75 percent of the spirit industry and 40 percent of the beer industry use PSL. That said, the beverage market is the last major market to convert – the Health & Beauty, Pharmaceutical and Household markets have already made that switch with PSL representing north of 85% share of the labeling technology in these sectors.

It gets even more interesting if you have a look at the beverage label market from a global perspective – here less than 15% of all labels are PSL, the majority still are glue applied labels, mostly made from paper. A lot of room for growth.

Constantia Flexibles: Why should beverage manufacturers shift from glued-on paper to Pressure Sensitive Labels?

Brian Fischer: You have major advantages in several categories, such as efficiency, performance, application, graphics and decoration opportunities.

First of all, the manufacturer has efficiencies of 98%+ on the labeler, through-put gains. All in all, PSL is 15 – 20 percent more efficient than C&S, which means more beer in less time. The brewer’s capacity can be increased without the need to expand the facility.

In terms of performance, we see better label durability throughout the distribution system and a significantly improved ice chest durability – this means brand recognition beginning to end!

As for application, the set-up time is eliminated, no glue prep and clean-up necessary. There are no additional hours needed other than hours of labeling. Label size and / or shape changes are painless and with no label change parts or expenses required and there is virtually no change over time to go from one label size or shape to a different size or shape.  You save time and money.

If you look at the graphics, we can achieve the same look with PSL as C&S and a variety of material options from which to choose from.  For example you can chose between white or metalized paper, white, metalized or clear film.  In addition, you can add enhancements if so desired such as “Peel / Reveal” - a three label panel that allows for more product information, “Tactile / Embossing” with no impact to labeling operation and removable labels for promotional opportunities or improved consumer connectivity.

If you look at the total applied cost in the end you will find that PSL are competitive with C&S plus all the advantages mentioned above!

Constantia Flexibles: Craft Beer is on the rise in many parts of the world. Which labels do they use?

Brian Fischer: When it comes to craft beer manufacturers, more and more choose PSL for branding their bottles.

As I mentioned before, PSL are competitive from a total applied cost perspective and have all the benefits craft beer manufacturers are looking for. One such example is obsolescence, because digital printing is more prevalent in PSL and can allow for small run capabilities at lower unit costs than traditional printing, obsolescence is reduced.

Also functionality is a big topic, such as significantly improved ice chest performance, elimination of dog ears or glue lines. Application is easy – there is no set up or clean up. Simply turn the machine on when ready to start labeling and turn off when done.

Last but not least there are aesthetics, Craft brewers want their labels to look traditional or crafty and certainly not trendy or contemporary.  Many felt that PSL was not an option.  However, as stated before, PSL labels can be produced on paper or on film with special effect to make them look and feel like paper. Bottom line is: Whatever you do with C&S you can do with PSL and much more, all with better performance, more flexibility and greater efficiency!

Constantia Flexibles: With all the excitement around pressure sensitive labels where does this leave one of our core products wet glue?

Brian Fischer: Well, that of course still represents a large percentage of the global beverage market and we are recognized as the global leader of wet glue label technology. We are proud of our expertise and the amount existing capital around this technology and will continue to lead in its development. In addition, wet glue is the preferred label solution for the returnable market as there is not a cost competitive Pressure Sensitive alternative.

Constantia Flexibles: Thanks, Brian, for sharing your insights!