How Adhesives Contribute to a Significant Value Chain

Posted on 9/25/2014 10:04:57 AM By Rick Krause

The use of adhesives in labels and packaging remains one of their most significant end-uses in North America.  According to the recently released ASC’s Market Report on PSA in North America, more than 36% of the Pressure Sensitive Market is made up of the “label” segment with a growth rate of 3.3% through 2017. “The ASC North American Pressure Sensitive Report provides information for ASC Members to navigate the PSA Marketplace and can help stakeholders help make important business decisions. This report is the first of a series of reports where ASC will start to go down into sub-segments to provide its members a more detailed set of facts and trends from end users,” Says Steve Duren, ASC’s Senior Director of Member Services.

Labelexpo 2014 calls together a comprehensive collection of value chain participants, including label manufacturers, printers/converters, printing press and equipment suppliers, substrate producers, ink and specialty coating makers, adhesive manufacturers, and raw material suppliers.  This annual gathering demonstrates the unspoken industry recognition that all value chain participants rely heavily upon one another for advancements in performance, cost-in-use, and functionality of all that is tagged or labelled.

Value, Performance and Shelf-Appeal

Adhesive manufacturers continue to highlight how they bring value to the label and packaging market.  Brand-owners rely heavily on shelf-appeal to inspire consumers to make the ever critical purchase decision.  While shelf-appeal is more direct, visual, and tactile in brick and mortar retail stores, brand image, packaging design, and visual appeal for online purchases remains very important.  Brand-owners continue to seek a loyal connection to consumers and appeal to their value consciousness and personal indulgence.  “Personalization” is a continuing emphasis by brand-owners to evoke brand loyalty.  They rely heavily upon packaging design and labeling to accomplish this, connected and augmented by the increasing use of social media campaigns.

Transparency, quality, and value continue to resonate with consumers.  The trend toward see-through packaging, whether clear thermoformed plastic containers or flexible packaging with see-through windows, continues to grow.  Adhesive manufacturers continue to develop and advance clear and non-blushing adhesives for see-through film labels and transparent laminating adhesives for flexible packaging.

Reclose-ability and reseal-ability provide a functional value to consumers in an increasing number of applications.  These types of adhesives are anticipated to continue growing in flexible packaging applications. 

Compliance and Fitness-for-Use

Adhesive suppliers are also addressing compliance and fitness-for-use, particularly for food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic packaging.  The increasing availability of FDA compliant adhesives with much lower levels of residual or contaminant migration (aka “low migration” adhesives) provides label and printing converters higher grade options in applications that will continue to face increasing scrutiny by brand-owners and regulatory agencies.


Lower cost-in-use alternatives continue to resonate with label manufacturers.  While the material cost of adhesives continues to depend heavily upon the chemistry and feed-stocks on which it is based, adhesive manufactures continue to develop laminating and pressure sensitive adhesives with faster curing and drying rates to support ever increasing line speeds.  Trends toward down-gauging, light-weighting, and the simplification of flexible packaging constructions will continue to demand more from the affected adhesive systems.


Recyclability and re-use of materials continues to be a factor in new packaging and label designs.   These and many other factors (e.g. functionality, shelf-appeal) are often pitting one packaging format versus another with an indirect impact on the adhesives required.

Waste reduction, material usage reduction, and production efficiencies were the most obvious examples of how increasing sustainability awareness and demands are pervading the label and packaging value chain.  Faster line speeds versus shorter run lengths, minimizing changeover time and material losses, and consistent quality and performance were themes expressed by equipment suppliers, substrate producers, and ink / coating / adhesive suppliers to be of significant importance to label manufacturers.  Efficient use of printing and converting equipment in the face of shorter run lengths, changing packaging formats, and a broadening spectrum of material usage often can make or break a label converters business.

 Intelligent Labeling and Packaging

The food, beverage, and pharmaceutical markets continue to drive the interest in intelligent labeling and packaging where the use of RFID and other technologies can provide anti-counterfeiting, tracking and inventory control, tamper evidence, and time / temperature indication utility.  Yet the options of QR codes on packaging and labels along with emerging smartphone technology to interact with RFID could add significant brand-owner interest as they continue to seek to more fully engage the consumer in their social media, marketing, and purchase decisions.  For innovative label converters and material suppliers, this continues to be an area of growing opportunity.

Want to learn more?  Look for these upcoming Adhesive and Packaging industry events:

2014 Adhesive & Sealant Council Fall Conference

Adhesive & Sealant Council Waterborne Adhesives Short Course

2014 Pack Expo International

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