Thursday, October 27, 2016

Indian labels market; inching towards a billion square meters

“The annual turnover of Indian packaging industry will touch $ 32 billion by 2025 from the present $ 24.6 billion” the Union Minister for State for Commerce and Industry E M Sudarsana Natchiappan said as per report in the Economic times of Jan 06, 2014. We are now into the end of 2016, which is almost three years hence. The growth rate is estimated by the Indian Institute of Packaging and the ministry of Commerce & Industry at 15%. If I take this CAGR (Compounded annual growth rate) of 15% and calculate, the total packaging market size in India at present should be 35 Billion USD per annum. According to PIRA (Pira is the worldwide authority on the packaging, paper and print industry supply chains), labels constitute less than 3% of the total packaging market. This includes all of Self adhesive labels, Shrink sleeves, Wet glue labels, In-mould labels, etc. So the market size of labels in India if I calculate at a modest rate of just 2.5% of the total packaging market, it works out to be in excess of 0.9 Billion USD or at present rate of Forex conversion rate, it is estimated to be Rupees 6000 Crores. Assuming 40% of this to be the market of self adhesive labels, the market size of self adhesive labels then works out to over Rupees 2400 Crores or approximately 900 million square meters. This would include all of printed paper & film labels, Sheeted and roll form labels, stock lots, Barcode labels, etc. The organized sector may look much smaller but together with the unorganized sector in the label industry which has mushroomed all across different geographical zones in the country adding volumes to the overall consumption, the consolidated figure becomes substantial. Consumption continues to grow steadily in even the smaller towns of the country. Some of my industry colleagues exercising caution, differ in opinion and emphatically state that the market size is lower. With current Indian population in October 2016 being 1.33 Billion, the per capita usage of label materials in India is estimated by me to be 0.67 Square meters while my other friends in the industry feel it is a little less than half a square meter per capita, meaning the market size is almost 670 million square meters. So the market should be within the range of 670-900 million Square Meters.

In 2003 I made a presentation for Cham Tenero Paper Mills Pressure Sensitive Symposium in St. Moritz Switzerland whereby I had made an assessment of market size of self adhesive labels in India based on consumption of adhesive and silicone sold in India to produce silicone release liners and self adhesive labelstocks. The presentation has been reproduced by me as a post on this blog, please check out . With my experience of being a siliconiser and labelstock manufacturer I calculated the amount release paper and labelstock that could have been produced. The figures coincided and gave a realistic picture of indigenous production of labelstocks by local players to be between 125-140 million square meters plus the imports and sales of Avery Dennison which had just started to get a firm foot hold into the market and was operating out of their Gurgaon facility only. Taking 125-140 million square meters as the reasonable figure in 2003 and calculating at the Ministry of commerce and Indian Institute of Packaging declared CAGR of 15% per annum we arrive at a present market size of self adhesive label materials  of 769-861 million square meters  which is within the estimated market size arrived at in the paragraph above. In the earlier part of the new millennium we saw rapid growth of self adhesive labels, much above the CAGR 15%, this was for various reasons; the economy was opening up, organized retail was also coming up creating new demand for labels and the old slow flat bed label printing machines were making way for faster rotary flexo label presses.

In 2013 I wrote an article on Baldev Singh Jandu of Jandu Engineers, who besides making label printing machines also makes coating and lamination machines. Most of his equipment is supplied to MSME units that fall into unorganized sector. He has been making coaters for many years now. In 2013 alone he sold 16 coaters, though he says his coater are being now designed to run almost 100 meter per minute, yet I calculated at an average speed of just 50 meters per minute, two 8 hour shifts and a 25% down time. That would translate into an annual production capacity of 170 million square meters. This increase is coming from just one equipment supplier in just one financial year. He has been building coaters and selling for many years. He continues to sell his coaters and there are others also like him building coating lamination machines adding to the bulging capacity of self adhesive materials in India. Then we have hot melt adhesive coaters coming in from China. This all is besides the capacity augmentation by the likes of Avery, SMI or the imports by Raflatac. I am sure neither of these coaters are idle nor are they up for sale. The market is huge and continues its upward trend. In the second half of 1990s there were just three labelstock manufacturers in NCR Delhi and maybe 10 to 15 across the country. Today the number in NCR is close to 30 and overall in India is in hundreds. This all leads to figures of market size much larger than what we are assessing it to be.

Let me go about this, another way. There are more than 500 label printers for printed labels and an equal if not more, number of label manufacturers who produce plain labels, price labels, A4 inkjet/laser labels and barcode labels. This adds up to a 1000 converters having anything from one to maybe twenty presses. There are large converters who use over 40,000-50000 square meters per day and then there are those who consume much less. If I take just an average of a modest 2500 square meters per month and with almost 1000 converters, this translates into a consumption of 750 million square meters per annum! If I increase the average consumption to 3000 square meters per day the consumption figure jumps to 900 million square meters calculated at 300 days production. If I add to this the sheet fed label market the market sizes increases further. I have tried assessing the market size in three different ways and each time it reaches within the same limits. Surely we have with finality crossed the half a square meter per capita consumption mark and are inching towards the one square meter per capita and presently hovering around close to the magical I billion square meter mark!

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India. October 2016.

"Self Adhesive labels in India" presentation made in Switzerland in 2003

Presentation at St. Moritz, Switzerland in September 2003 as a part of the Cham Paper mills Pressure Sensitive Symposium. Now reproduced!

Diverse India!
India is an exciting country full of diversity. The culture, language, religion, food, colour, weather/environment, etc. changes as you travel through the different states from Kashmir in the North to Tamilnadu in South or for that from Maharashtra in the west to Kolkata in the East. A country with 1 billion and 27 million people is now becoming the hunting ground of the marketing people worldwide. The shear size of the market is attractive, though the urban population is almost 28% of the total population, but the growth rate of 31.2% in the no. of people in urban areas compared to the 17.9%in rural India, points towards a growing middle class and a huge potential market. Self-adhesive labels is a market that is now looking up and registering growth from the impact of this urbanization and consumer awareness due to the efforts of the marketing men, whether they are from Indian companies or from the multinationals. Selling consumer products by individual shopkeepers over the counter used to be the most widely employed method of selling till a couple of years ago. While it is still the predominant method yet the more global style of relating through self-service departmental stores is making retailing a fashion statement with marketers and consumers. This new trend has brought in a whole new demand on to the labels industry. Gone are the days when only esthetics was the criteria for finding a place on the shelves. Today a label has to perform in imparting good looks, last till the life of the product, give information and to top it all has to have variable information’s in terms of barcodes to facilitate selling, accounting, inventory controls, etc. This and many such trends have brought a surge of demand to the Indian label industry while it is difficult to dwell on all aspects which are bringing bigger volumes yet it will not be out of place to mention that a major demand is also arising from organised manufacturers practices where labels with a limited life span lasting only on shop floors are used. They help in assembly, inventory control, security, identification etc. People are coming forward with demands for new types of label applications that were unheard of in this country. The growth in this market has now prompted the label printers to get together and from the label printers association to look into matters relating to them. The Government of India trade policy reforms, provide an export friendly environment, with simplified procedures. Focus is on liberalisation, openness, transparency, globalization, moving away from restrictions and improving competitiveness to meet the global market requirements. All this has resulted in bringing in a whole lot of foreign direct investment in industry and infrastructure. Needless to say we now find international self-adhesive labelstock manufacturers like Avery Dennison setting up shop here. Raflatac did make a foray by selling through a distributor but the arrangement was terminated due to total reliance on imports. However still according to Mr. Kerri Palli of Raflatac whom I was talking to at Labelexpo-Brussels, “India is very much on our mind and will be our next stop to set up a manufacturing base”. Jacstaadt also had plans, Torsten JungLenz, their sales director, has a lot of friends in the Indian label industry. Now with Avery having acquired Jac, the market equation stands changed.

Indian market for self-adhesive labels initially was concentrated in Mumbai and it is thus that we find highest number of label printers and labelstock manufacturers there. Majority of self adhesive labels in the earlier days were the product of the screen printing Industry. Screen printers would print plain paper apply glue on the back, dry it, place the release liner and then die-cut. Then the offset printers moved in and with that came the demand for labelstock in sheets. Many of these printers installed narrow web label presses and soon the way self adhesive labels were made started to change. Though the narrow web label industry has spread out to Ahmedabad, Pune, Vapi, Daman and other nearby areas but the biggest concentration still remains in Mumbai. This is attributed to the growth of large industrial base there due to proximity to the port. Growth spread to other areas, north India, due to its proximity to central government, has become a high growth centre. Setting up of facilities like Internal container depot, handling international cargo and custom clearance, made many multinationals and industrial groups set up industrial enterprises in this region. In my runup to writing this article this article I had sent a questionnaire to many label printers, label stock manufacturers, silicone coaters, adhesive manufacturers etc. Although, all did not reply, yet whatever replies I could get made interesting reading and I would like to share with you in these articles.

Market sizes and growth
In my effort to arrive at a relatively accurate figure on the size of the market, I asked this question but none of the respondents could give any conclusive data. Infact a couple of people who attempted, were way off the mark so I decided to make my own study. According to Mr.Praveen Shankar of Jubilant Organosys (formerly Vam Organics) the total market of water based PSA for label application in India is 5000 tons per annum. “Silicone consumption for paper release application in India is to the time of 300-350 tons per annum,” says Dipankar Dutta of Wacker Metroark. Based on my knowledge as a labelstock and release liner manufacturer I arrived at a figure, which correlates, to both the above figures. The production of labelstock by indigenous manufacturers is between 125-140 million square meters. This does not include the products offered or sold by Avery, Jac or Raflatac or those imported into the country. To my estimate additional 50% of the above quantity comes in imports in shapes of raw material, finished goods or stock lots so I estimate the present demand in India to the time of 200 million square meters most of which is paper stock and does not include tapes or other self adhesive materials. With this I arrive at a usage of less than a quarter square meter of per capita usage. Compare this with 12 square meters in USA, 8 in Europe, 7 in Japan, less than 1 square meters in rest of Asia. Most of the respondents suggested growth rate projections between 10-20% however personally I would rate it much higher. I refer to the “Asia Label Market briefing“ by Mike Fairley and published by Labels and Labelling, wherein it is given that self-adhesive market in India in 1999 was 65 million square meters. I take this as indigenous production and compare it to the figure I arrived at 125 million square meters, which means a growth rate of 40%. When looking at area wise usage the general views are that Western India leads followed by North, South and East in that order. However highest growth rate in terms of percentage seems to coming from North but due to the larger size of the market, bigger volumes still come from the west. The North Indian market is registering a fast growth owing to the fact that, National capital region Delhi and surrounding towns is the most urbanised area with 93% urbanisation followed by Chandigarh at 89.8%.

India has been a predominantly paper labels market. Recent trends and demands by innovative label designers has brought with it, demand for better and different face materials, whether paper or filmic. Higher converting speeds, newer printing methods, need for variable information printing and sensing of the printed data and other such requirements have forced labelstock producers to offer better face materials especially suited for required applications. Filmic stocks are picking up in demand. Today filmic stocks are less than 10% of the total labelstock usage but in terms of percentage higher growth rate are coming from this segment however due to the sheer size of the paper label segment the growth volume will remain much bigger in paper.

Water based emulsion adhesives are the most widely used adhesives in the Indian self-adhesive labels industry. Almost all the new capacities that are being created employ water based emulsion PSA. Solvent borne acrylics and rubber resin adhesive are only a miniscule portion of the industry. However the underdog is hotmelt adhesive. Indian label printers are taking a fancy for this. Prasad Accumeter and Stay on Papers in Hyderabad, and Interlabels in Mumbai must be given credit for contributing to the growth of labelstocks with hotmelt adhesives. Newer capacities in hotmelt segment are being added. Two new Nordson hotmelt coaters have arrived one for Millenium papers, Chennai and one for Weldon Celloplast Ltd. in New Delhi. Most of the Indian Labelstock manufacturers employ locally made coaters to coat water based adhesives however a few exceptions like Kedia Lamicoats at Silvasa have installed a used Windmoeller and Holsher coater.

Solvent based tin catalyst silicone systems have been the most widely used and accepted silicone coatings. With installation of faster converting rotary label presses and to remain competitive printers wishing to drive volumes, the need for better release coatings became imperative. Metroark Ltd. which is now known as Wacker Metroark was the sole supplier in earlier days so the scope for development was limited. Then with the advent of liberalisation came the other players like GE and Rhodia. Soon a pleasant change has started to descend the silicon liner market. GE and Rhodia had their technical men visiting the leading coaters and advising them to improvise and use their existing machines to coat newer technology. Today thermal curing solvented and solventless platinum catalyst silicone system are being used by a a few coaters in India. However UV curing and electron beam curing systems have not even been considered so far. Faster label dispensing and applications is putting pressure on more and more label printers to opt for the advanced silicon chemistries on the release liners. In terms of substrates used for siliconising, glassine remains the most preferred one. However cheap stock lots of SCK tempt may converters to use it. It is interesting to note that some top of the line converters of computer labels in A4 format are specifically demanding SCK and CCK liners for this application because of their lay flat properties and non slip feeding into the printers. Notably amongst these printers are R.K Papers at Mumbai and Rational Business Corporation at Delhi. Filmic liners are now also being experimented and used in certain products.

Printing Technique :-
Flatbed, letter press printing remains the most widely employed printing technology. This is mostly due to the lower cost and local availability of dies as compared to expensive and imported rotary dies. Progressive and dynamic printing companies are now opting for newer, faster rotary flexo label presses as also semi rotary letter press machines with a variety of option like UV curing, laminating and hot foil stamping stations Machines like Nilpeter, Gallus, Aquaflex, MarkAndy, Iwasaki, Kopack, Comco, Orthotec, Focus, Arsoma etc have found their way into many label printing units. Though highest capital investment is in the West, with concentration in Mumbai, the highest growth in terms of percentage is coming from the North, South comes third with Eastern sector trailing. To my knowledge in recent years Amit Sheth of Sheth Graphics has successfully sold atleast three Orthotec machines in Calcutta. Other than this the Eastern market relies on screen or offset printers for self-adhesive labels. I am not aware of any additional capacities in label printing created the last couple of years in this area.

Almost all the respondents to my questionnaire feel there is no slow down in the label industry. They all foresee a bright future for the Industry. Entry of Multinationals like Avery, who are now omni-present in the industry is welcomed by printers as they feel that they will make the market grow and develop in quality. What is surprising is that other labelstock manufacturers share this view. Infact most of the respondents in the industry feel the presence of multinationals is good news however they are all optimistic that the multinational labelstock manufacturers will not enter into label printing. It shows an underlying fear, given the fact that Avery markets labels and other finished labels worldwide.
Apart from the normal growth it appears there will be a marked shift from wet-glue labels to the self-adhesive labels. Mr. Ravindran of Seljegat in Sivakasi is optimistic and happy that the liquor industry has started its shift towards self-adhesive labels this will be a major chunk adding to the usage of self-adhesive labels in India.
Without mentioning the development being made by manufacturers of label presses in India this study would be incomplete. Pioneering work is being done by many, I would like to mention the achievement of Baldev Singh Jandu of Jandu Engineering who has now over eighteen fully rotary label presses in operation and has orders worth another six in hand. This is incredible! All machine are flexo rotary. A word of caution comes from all against the free inflow of B grade materials and stock lots into the country. In words of Pranay Goda of Kaygee Papers, it is the biggest threat facing the industry, label printers and suppliers should form an association, educate end users and set standards.
Time has come when more and more constituents of this industry are coming forward for the growth of the industry. Formation of label printers association at Mumbai, launching a B2B portal by Weldon, a label show has to be held in 2002, etc are some of the steps that will promote the industry. With a market as large as India there is only one way the demand can go…..Up!

The above article is written by Harveer Singh Sahni, Managing Director of Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008 in August 2003

Monday, September 26, 2016

Himanshu Kapur-J K Fine Prints; It has been Labels, always!

Brothers Surendra Kapur and Jatindra Kapur directors of Jai Kaushal Industries and R K Papers Mumbai mentored their sons Himanshu Kapur and Karan Kapur into label printing business with their start-up enterprise J K Fine Prints Pvt.Ltd. While their fathers and mentors continue to run their own continuous stationery, business forms and label printing unit R K Papers Pvt. Ltd., their young boys continue to grow their label business efficiently with financial discipline, quality assurance and modern business management systems in place. Surendra Kapur has been an early entrant into label industry and the founder president of LMAI (Label Manufacturers association of India). He draws immense respect from the label fraternity in India. On April 22, 2011 I wrote on Surendra Kapur in this blog . On one of my recent visits to Taloja, Mumbai where J K Fine Print is located, I had the opportunity to visit and interview Himanshu Kapur and see for myself the path traversed in these last few years. 

Karan Kapur
Since Karan looks after marketing and sales, operating out of their Nariman point office in SouthMumbai, I could not meet him. Himanshu an MA in Psychology and Karan an MBA from Mumbai’s SP Jain Institute were just 23 years and 24 years old respectively when J K Fine Prints was setup.  It was a pleasure to see Himanshu now as a much learned label printer, confident and in control of what he was doing. I asked him whether he thought of opting for other careers before starting this enterprise and whether he faced any initial starting troubles, he said, “There was no problem in starting the company as Dad Surendra Kapur had trained him well for two years before starting this venture”. He further added that since the family was in labels he never thought of anything else, “I knew that for me, it has been labels, always!”

Surendra Kapur & Himanshu Kapur
Due to a talented and experience mentor behind, they never faced any real nightmares. Kapurs have traditionally been fans of letterpress printing. They even started this company with letterpress printing technology. For Himanshu the most satisfying moment till date has been the shift from 4 colour flatbed letterpress printing to Flexographic rotary printing by installing a 7 color Gallus press. Months before the press arrived he spent endless hours on internet surfing to learn the nuances of flexographic printing process. When the press came, he was ready for it and adapted it without any problem. He has been so satisfied that he has shifted most of his jobs from letterpress to flexo. I asked him which was the most complex job that he has done till date? Though he said there are many yet he mentioned the Kid Baion (Merck) label that he did. It was an 11 colour job that he compressed to 6+1 colour and achieved excellence. He proudly mentions that the elders do not interfere with their work and rather compliment them for having achieved success.

The unit has grown from 10000 square feet that was originally built to 18000 square feet by adding another floor. Presently they are working with two Gallus flexo label presses, two Letterpress label machines, three Omega’s, One Hot Stamping machine, fully automatic core cutting and a host of finishing equipment. As availability and management of manpower continues to become challenging, Himanshu has extensively indulged in automation. The automatic core cutter is one such equipment that cuts down time and reduces 3-4 persons permanently cutting cores. Plate cleaning was another area where they employed one person on each machine but with installation of an automatic plate cleaning machine they have just one person doing the job. They started with strength of 35 employees in 2006 and gradually went up to 70. With Himanshu‘s efforts they now produce more with just 35 people. He asserts that once he as an ERP system which he is working on in place, he will be able to reduce the workforce by another 4-5 persons.

The youthful urge to grow is evident in these young men. When they started they were consuming just 15000-20000 square meters of label stock per month. This has now grown to 300,000 square meters. It was amazing to see that when they implemented their expansion plans, three different additional press rooms have been constructed providing space for three more label presses planned for future. All the rooms have storage areas for toolings and plates. Only the presses need to move in! Once Himanshu is able to get these additional equipment in, he is says the capacity will increase by 200% and is confident that the company will double up in sales in the next five years. He has spent a lot of time and money on time optimization as also on track and trace implementation. Each core has a core identification barcode label generated through a dedicated software so that in case of need the material can be traced to all steps of process that it has gone through. All raw materials coming in is tested and recorded in a fully equipped laboratory. Finished products are inspected both online and offline for 100% customer satisfaction.

Himanshu has invested a lot of time in designing storage and handling systems for toolings and plates for easy access and their safety. The storage drawers and racks have specified materials that will not contaminate or scratch the toolings and consumables that contribute to quality production of labels. He is committed to continuously upgrade the setup to achieve higher levels of quality and efficiency. They have so far not invested in plate making capabilities because Himanshu believes that this job has to be left to professionals so that the product is delivered to them perfect and defect free. Maybe a day later in life, when the workflow and workload demands so, he may invest but as of now he does not wish to add a department in his company that will not produce additional revenue. Also given the fact he is comfortable with the quality delivered when plates are outsourced. 

He has a voracious appetite to learn more about printing processes and his office is full of electronics and gadgets unlike his father’s office whose desk is devoid of any electronics or computers, only his mobile remains in his pocket. However even now if one visits Surendra Kapur, one cannot fail to notice that his desk is devoid of any papers and is immaculately clean. If a paper comes in to his desk, within moments he will dispose it off; either gives instructions on the matter or get up himself and put it neatly in a file. Himanshu for that matter also follows his father’s style but as far as electronics go, I need to go once again to see what all he keeps doing on that front. His main desk is in use when he is not on his computers and interacting with staff or visitors. His electronic workstation is on his right hand corner to be in use when he is on his computers and alone, to acquire further knowledge.

Though not actively involved in sales yet when asked about competition, Himanshu emphatically states that price is surely an area of concern and that we would prefer to lose a customer rather than reduce prices. Lastly when asked a question that I ask everyone, “what about digital printing?” Even more emphatically he says, “Not for another 7 years!”

Himanshu Kapur is not really the gen next in the Kapur family. Actually he is the fourth generation of the family patriarch Lala Jai Dayal Kapur who due to his friendship will Lala Karam Chand Thapar founder of BILT (now Avaantha Group) became the distributors for Ballarpur Industries Limited. Lala Jai Dayal Kapur’s son Ram Kumar Kapur, Himanshu’s grandfather setup, R K Papers in Mumbai to manufacture paper stationery. Ram Kumar’s son Surendra Kapur took over the reins of the manufacturing unit and expanded into labels, his brother Jatindra looked after marketing and sales. Now their sons Himanshu and Karan run J K Fine Print Pvt. Ltd. With a strong heritage and deep roots in business this, young duo is expected to rise exponentially in the label industry.

Note for print publications: Magazines may reproduce the above article by giving credit to the author.
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi. September, 2016.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Drupa 2016: Focused Indian presence!

DRUPA” derives its name from the German words “druck und papier” meaning print and paper respectively.  It was first inaugurated in 1951 spread over an area of 18450 square meters, 527 exhibitors from 10 countries and 195450 visitors. The main highlight then was the platen press. By 1962 the show had grown to 48000 square meters and letterpress printing was changing to offset printing. 1972 saw Drupa being held at the present site with a brand new exhibition centre and the size grew to almost 100,000 square meters. The next editions of Drupa upto the end of the new millennium more or so saw the growth and development in offset printing technologies. From smaller machines to bigger ones, UV inks, better ink control technologies, Web offset, Ctp, Digitalization of equipments, etc, were the highlights. It was largely recognized as an offset printers show. Printers involved in processes like Flexo, gravure screen, etc. would not be a part of this show. The last decade of the last millennium saw some fast growth and activity in digital printing. 50years after the exhibition was launched a transformation in printing technology was evident at Drupa 2000. This was the peak of participation. The show had grown to 158,875 square meters and 428,248 visitors from 171 countries, the highest in Drupa’s history, came to the show. 1943 exhibitors from 50 countries showcased their products and equipments catering to diverse printing technologies. By 2004 internet was providing immense possibilities to the printing industry by way of networking possibilities like data transfer which made life so much simpler for the printing fraternity. Digital printing was spreading its reach. 2008 Drupa did actually confirm that digital printing is going to be the future.  Leaders in digital like Océ, Canon, Agfa, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, Kodak and HP were present in huge floor spaces confirming their resolve to bring about that change from conventional to digital printing. In 2012, Benny Landa took inkjet to the next level by promising nanographic-printing to be better than even offset. Landa’s showmanship and vision pulled hoards of visitors to the Landa stand, the world was talking about it. The HP stand of 4950 sq.mtrs and large stands of Kodak and other companies exhibited a new trend of combining multiple print and converting technologies leading to hybrid machines. For this reason Drupa 2012 was the initiation of making Drupa not just an offset printer’s show. However still people said digital to spread cost effectively and emphatically will take time. 

Drupa 2016 figures: 260,000 visitors from 188 countries and about 1,900 journalists from 74 nations
travelled to Düsseldorf.  1,837 exhibitors from 54 countries exhibited to display their equipments and products. At 76% participation of international visitors at Drupa 2016, it increased by 16% compared to the 2012. The largest contingent came from Asia with 17% (2012: 13.6%) participation, particularly from India (5%) and China (3%). The majority of the European visitors came from Italy, France, the Netherlands and the UK. So infact the largest international group of visitors approximately 14000 came from India. The show has definitely transformed. HP showcased its offerings from a much bigger stand of 6200 square meters up from 4950 sq.mtrs. at the last Drupa. Landa’s Nano metallography displayed on an Omet X6 flexo press, attracted a whole lot of interest. The show had virtually every technology on display from Offset, digital, nanography, gravure, flexo, screen, 3D and so on. It is no more the offset show that it was. I would now personally refer to it as the "complete Printing and converting technology show". Since India is a market in focus of the global marketers and they formed the biggest group of visitors, I sent out a questionnaire to many exhibitors and visitors most of them in some way connected to the label industry to get their take on Drupa or the exhibitors view of the visitors.

David Jones-Alphasonics
Most of the exhibitors questioned by me did experience that Indians were there in large numbers however when I asked what they felt was the percentage of Indian Label printers amongst 14000 Indian visitors, the answers were quite strange. A few who understood my question did not wish to guess. Wild guesses came from many of those who chose to answer at 10-30%. Maybe they did not understand my question, 10% of 14000 is 1400! We don’t have so many label printers in India. Some exhibitors may have expressed this as a percentage of visitors at their stand but coming from label printers it was quite surprising. The only two people who gave realistic figures were Amar Chhajed of Webtech (Huhtamaki) as less than 1% and Sanjeev Sondhi of Zircon guessed close to 100 label printers, I too estimate 100 to be a fairly realistic figure. When exhibitors were asked if the visitors were serious buyers, David Jones of Alphasonics said “You can never tell. They all seem interested”. Dhyanesh Amonkar of GEW feels they were serious but were there mostly to assimilate the new technology available so that they can indulge when needed. Similar views were expressed by Itzick Barazani Director AVT, Spring Xu of Weigang, Peter Frei of Pantec and Pankaj Poddar CEO Cosmo films. Massimo of Omet says, “We saw an increasing level of quality of Indian visitors. People coming to our stand knew what to ask. They were serious” Appadurai of HP expressed satisfaction at the improving level of Indian visitors at trade shows, he said “They now do their homework well and know what to enquire”. Obviously it is clear that trade shows are no more seen as reasons for tourism. They are serious business for our business men.
Pankaj Poddar CEO Cosmo Films

All exhibitor respondents confirmed that it was mostly business owners alone or accompanied by their top level executives that visited them. This was also confirmed by the printers who were interviewed. Some top management executives from large business groups also came. This is so because most printing companies in India still continue to be family owned and final decision making remains with the owners. This is a positive sign for the exhibitors as they are in direct contact with the decision makers. Of course the negotiation does get tough when you actually deal with owners. When asked if they made deals at the show to sell into India, Alphasonics confirmed they sold two equipments, AVT sold two, Omet one and HP sold two label presses. (The question to HP was asked for label presses only). Most others have enquiries that appear to be very serious and may mature into orders. Indian economy is one of the fastest growing in the world; I asked if exhibitors felt the impact. David Jones gave and interesting answer, while he agrees that there are more and more people coming forward to enquire yet price bargaining is very high however he feels the gulp factor when you quote price especially to the larger printers is better. They don’t faint when you quote a European price.  Massimo at Omet finds the general mood as positive. Pankaj Poddar finds the Indian printers very motivated in the present day scenario. Unanimous in their response all agree that Indian print industry is moving up and upgrading with increased investments, cautiously but steadily. It is surprising that while most equipment suppliers complain prices are very difficult in India yet when asked do Indians have capability to invest in high end equipment, the answer is in the affirmative. All say there appears to be no issues on their capability to invest. 

With Adrian Tippenhauer Mg. Dir. Rako Etiketten
After the massive and amazing display of digital printing technologies at Drupa, one can be sure that it is the technology of future and is already under implementation rapidly. What technical implementation happens in Europe and USA eventually also reaches India. Quoting Germany’s leading label printer Adrian Tippenhauer Managing Director of Rako Etiketten, “We now invest only in digital presses”. Till date they have 36 digital presses out of the 100s of label presses, most of these digital presses are HP Indigos. If we see the participation of the top participants in Drupa in the last three showings we note that in 2008 out of the top five exhibitors we had three conventional offset equipment suppliers with Heidelberg as the biggest exhibitor. This dropped to two in 2012 and just one in 2016. This Drupa we had the biggest exhibitor as HP followed by Heidelberg, Landa, Canon and Kodak. I am sure this indicates the way forward. Serge Vincart of Dilii says “The market dynamics is eventually forcing the label printers towards digital” Itzick Barzani feels it may take time but that is the way. Pankaj Poddar feels for short runs, it is here to stay! HP’s Appadurai says, “Drupa accelerated the adoption and belief in Digital”! As for the label printers, Narendra Paruchuri of Pragati, Hyderabad reasserted his stand that digital and conventional will coexist. Aditya Patwardhan of Manohar packaging feels digital will not grow very quickly in India until shackles on proprietary substrates and consumables are removed.  Jordi Querra at Rotatek states, “In volume, all digital together means less than 1% of total printed production worldwide. Digital is for short runs and a single printed copy is very expensive. We think India customers are in the right direction. Digital is a difficult business today”. However Amar Chhajed expressed that the technology is now getting to be more relevant with improved pricing and faster speeds. Abhay Datta also believes digital is catching up. Sanjeev Sondhi of Zircon stated we have to adopt it pretty soon. Landa’s metallography seems to have impressed both Narendra Paruchuri and Sanjeev.

Much of the growth happening in the label industry in India is emanating from the offset printers.  They are already supplying packaging to FMCG end users who also need labels, so an area that has reasonable margins and a high growth rate is an attractive synergic segment to add to their growing package printing business. Commercial printing is on a downslide and package printing as also label printing is an area that the printers understand and get attracted to. Existing package printing companies have huge turnovers and for them, investment in label is not a very difficult proposition. However the reverse, i.e. label printers getting into packaging is happening but I would say is not very evident. Labels are just 2-3% of the packaging industry and the label is just a small fractional part of the total package cost. Even if label printers are successful yet their turnovers are restricted and cannot match the large package printing companies. The larger label printers, to grow bigger in size are contemplating or already making investments to get into package printing, flexible packaging and shrink sleeves  but they are small in number. During this exhibition one could see a lot of offset printers show interest in inline production of folding cartons and flexible packaging. It surely appears that it may become a trend. Most exhibitors confirmed India is their focus area and many confirmed they are already making or will make investments into India, According to Omet, “It has been a consideration for quite a while and will happen”. Peter Eriksen of Nilpeter though not exhibiting, says, “We have decided to make a very significant investment. We believe in the growth of the Indian label and flexible packaging market. Furthermore, we have chosen India to play a key role in Nilpeter global manufacturing setup”.

Narendra Paruchuri-Pragati Offset Hyderabad
 There is a 17% drop in the number of visitors at Drupa. I asked if it was (a) reduction in number of days (b) Loss of interest. (c) Consolidation with more focused visitors this time. I got mixed responses but it appears the consensus is that we had more focused visitors this time. There is so much of information available on internet and people need to travel only when it is necessary to proceed towards expansion. That is the time they wish to update themselves and decide the way forward. Those amongst printers that I interviewed and who actually made purchase decisions were Amar Chhajed-Webtech, Narendra Paruchuri-Pragati, Ramesh Kejriwal-Parksons, Abhay Datta-Datta Press and Aditya Patwardhan-Manohar Packaging. Most Indian printers felt the positive impact of exhibitor’s attitude coming towards them, given the fact that their country is now the fastest growing economy. Narendra Paruchuri feels that in today’s time any prospective buyer is welcomed, he says, “I was happy with the reception at last Drupa and happy this time as well”.

With Ramesh Kejriwal, Mg.Dir. Parksons Packaging
 All the printers who responded were repeat visitors to Drupa, in fact for Narendra Paruchuri it was the ninth Drupa. A whopping 36 years and he visited each time this show was held! When asked will you come again and the response, “Yes, as long as I can walk”.  All visitors felt they had learnt a lot of new things and would surely come back to visit the next Drupa. The four years cycle gets a thumbs up from most respondents but Amar Chhajed says, “Decisions cannot wait for four years in today’s rapid paced life, the motive of Drupa remains showcasing new developments. Purchase decisions can keep on happening”.  Mukesh Goel of Gopsons expressed that it was evident the visitors were very focused with intent to purchase this time and you could feel that when you saw people busy at stands. 

I also asked, what was the most interesting part of your visit to Drupa? It all varied from Landa’s Nanography to Nano metallography to 3D to technical advancements, but the most interesting reply I got was from Ramesh Kejriwal Managing Director of Parksons Packaging, he says “Beer at Alstadt!!!”

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India July 2016 exclusively for Narrow Web Tech Germany. 
The article maybe published with the permission of Narrow WebTech Germany giving credit to them and to the author

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