A survey of international suppliers for package printing in Asia - Part 1

Is the packaging industry’s future Asian?

With a glimpse towards the future, Flexo & Gravure Global asked a ­variety of suppliers to the package printing industries for their thoughts and strategies around the expanding Asian markets. Collectively, each respondent emphasized that their growth strategies revolve around and often hinge upon successfully navigating the changing economics and demographics involved in Asia’s financial expansion.

By Michael Buchsbaum

 

“Head East, young man”

In the mid-19th Century, when asked by a young man in New York City what advice he might give for those seeking to improve their fortunes, legendary American newspaper editor and author Horace Greeley famously pointed towards California and responded: “Head west, young man.” And indeed, tremendous fortunes were made as the U.S. American west and the “new world” of the Americas developed. Likely today, however, Greeley would point that same man in the opposite direction (or just tell him to keep heading west away from California) as the future economic growth of the planet continues to centrearound the fast growing Asian populations and economies. What follows are selected responses from several diverse international firms to the questions posed below.

1) How would you describe the importance and value of the growing Asian package printing markets to your firm?

2) What are the challenges that western firms face when trying to enter those markets? Can you broadly describe your company’s entry strategy?

3) What are the factors that you feel will affect the growth of the packaging and printing industries and markets in Asia over the next five to ten years? And how are you tailoring your product lines to fit the needs and demands of the region?

 

Sam Seow and Pankaj Patel, Commerical managers, Apex International

1) How would you describe the importance and value of the growing Asian package printing markets to your firm?

 

The Asia-Pacific region is made up of smaller printing segments with their own characteristics. China, being the largest economy in the region, is by far the biggest growing market. India and Japan are also key markets and South Asia, Southeast Asia and ANZ are growing rapidly. Due to economic growth and an increase in populations in the Asian region, the demand for packaging will grow as well, especially in India and China. Though gravure is still the dominant technology in the Asia-Pacific packaging printing market, more and more flexo printing machines are slowing being introduced into China and India.

By 2025 Asia will be responsible for two-thirds of world’s population and will be the biggest potential growth market for the printing and packaging industry. We at Apex International are very enthusiastic about the potential growth of this market especiallly in the ­Indian subcontinent. Presently, per capita consumption of labels and packaging material is very low compared to the US and Europe. The Indian population is still growing and will be 1.3 billion in the near future. This will create bigger volumes for packaging even if there is only a small percentage change in per-capita consumption.

Since the Indian government and customers are placing more emphasis on environmentally friendly products and technologies like Flexo, with water-based inks, LED, UV, low migration UV and low VOC solvents, these technologies will grow in usage. With Apex’s knowledge, we can play a bigger role in the implementation of anilox in an ever “greener environment.”

 

2) What are the challenges that western firms face when trying to enter those markets? Can you broadly describe your company’s entry strategy?

of time due to fierce competition from local Asian manufacturers. To ­survive and successfully access
the Asian market over the long term, you have to be innovative and set-up a manufacturing plant in Asia which is what Apex is now doing.

The biggest challenge for new western technology is mainly a lack of high level technical education in the field; the limited experience of operators and users on or with the new technologies from the Western world; and finally price sensitive markets.

Our approach is to tackle barriers and provide more than just anilox rolls. We will provide added value in training, cleaning services and audits. Apex has another value-added proposition with the most consistent anilox technology GTT, which is needed for fixed ­palette printing and the REVO project. Furthermore, Apex recently launched the Bellissima DMS screening technology, another big step forward in fixed palette and high-quality flexo that we feel the Asian market is going to embrace.

 

3) What are the factors that you feel will affect the growth of the packaging and printing industries and markets in Asia over the next five to ten years? And how are you tailoring your product lines to fit the needs and demands of the region?

With a focus on product quality, we also deliver extraordinary service including technical advice, while addressing customers’ problem issues. In this regard and others, we operate our business differently than our competitors.

In the next five to ten years, every flexible packaging company with two or three gravure printing machines will buy at least one
or two wide web or narrow web flexo printing machines to meet the ­demand for short runs. Apex is ­addressing this demand by providing solutions to ensure guaranteed high quality graphics with the print results demanded by brand owners.

 

Jordi Gorchs, Chief commercial officer, Comexi

1) How would you describe the importance and value of the growing Asian package printing markets to your firm?

Asia is one of our main ­future markets, for both the medium and long term. Consumer habits, population growth, average expenses per person for packaging and ­increasing demands are some of the characteristics that Comexi is taking into consideration. All studies and analysis show a high increase in Asia’s packaging and flexible packaging sector.

These are some of the main reasons why the group has improved its approach and resources to and within the Asian markets, especially during the last five years. While we move forward with investment strategies, it is important to highlight that Comexi has already achieved a great presence in the area. Nowadays, we are well recognized in Asia for our wide range of technologies – printing (flexo, offset gravure), laminating and slitting – and for our added value and innovative solutions. One of Comexi’s plans is to grow and approach this market with the best technologies and customer care support, two elements that Asian converters and clients in this zone value highly.

 

2) What are the challenges that western firms face when trying to enter those markets? Can you broadly describe your company’s entry strategy?

We could say that the main challenges are culture and language, as well as local producers. To address this, Comexi has a dedicated on-site sales and service teams who are very familiar with Asian cultures and languages. In addition, from a commercial point of view, we are mainly focusing on those technologies that we know where Comexi gives extra value to such as highly efficient gravure and flexo printing presses; our unique offset printing proposal, the Comexi CI8; our high perfomance laminators and laser scoring and scribing in-line in slitting. All have been introduced into the market and currently are providing outstanding performance for Comexi’s customers. Additionally, customer service is very important to us as a key market approach. This is our strongest investment focus ­today.

Our specilised professional team knows what the Asian market is demanding. There are many local manufactured possibilities. That’s the reason why we focus on added value solutions and technologies being in R+I+D, high quality output, low energy consumption, productivity, efficiency, ergonomy and top performance.

 

3) What are the factors that you feel will affect the growth of the packaging and printing industries and markets in Asia over the next five to ten years? And how are you tailoring your product lines to fit the needs and demands of the region?

Following previous indications, all current analysis reveal changes in consumer habits and increasing personal packaging expenses and changes in the type of packaging. The continued shift from rigid to flexible packaging, for example.

Comexi is ready for those challenges. In today’s market, the group is offering a wide product portfolio which is accomodated to meet any final end use market demand.

Comexi’s printing presses can work and print almost any kind of format and any kind of gloss or matte effect. Our laminators can laminate all kinds of potential combinations and coatings and make windows on a paper/plastic laminate. We can also do numbering or create easy openings with our laser solutions. With the Comexi Futura laminator, converters can also achieve holographic effects in register when required. Therefore, we can say that Comexi is ready to follow almost any market trend in these territories.

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