In-mold labeling (IML), also known as automated packaging system, is utilized to label certain products such as bottles and containers during the manufacturing process. IML systems eliminate the need for post-production labelling process and offer various advantages such as maximum print quality with high resolution, recyclability, high resistance to humidity and scratches, and non-susceptibility to wrinkles. Other advantages of IML are high transparency, waterproofing, and permanent moldability. In-mold labels are used in various end-use applications such as petrochemical, household, pharmaceutical, paint, and cosmetic containers. IML is currently a niche market; however, it is expected to expand significantly in the next few years.
The global in-mold labeling market has been segmented based on production process, material, printing technology, and end-user. Based on production process, the market has been segmented into injection molding, blow molding, and thermoforming. The injection molding segment dominates the market and is expected to expand at a significant rate during the forecast period. This is ascribed primarily to certain factors such as low price and provision of imparting 3D-effect to labels. Based on material, the IML market has been segmented into PP, PE, ABS, and PVC. PP is a leading material segment, due to its versatility and features such as ease of attaining softening point to form bonds with other polymers and high moisture resistance. PP-based in-mold labelling is used in various industrial and consumer products, due to its low cost. It is used in products such as cosmetics, food, bar code labels, hand tags, and retail tags. Based on printing technology, the mold labeling market has been divided into flexographic, offset, and gravure printing. In terms of end-user, the market has been classified into food & beverage, consumer durables, cosmetic & personal care, pharmaceutical, and automotive. The food & beverage segment is likely to dominate the IML market during the forecast period. Rising demand for packaged food, beverages, and branded items due to growing awareness regarding branded and authentic products is boosting the IML market.
IML offers various benefits such as low packaging weight, high durability, recyclability, and protection against humidity. These factors, in turn, act as drivers for the market. Rise in the demand for packaging systems with low weight and high aesthetics is projected to augment the demand for IML during the forecast period. Low production rate across the globe coupled with high cost of producing IML labels is restraining the market. However, growing concerns about environmental pollution are prompting manufacturers to adopt recyclable materials, typically in plastic in-labelling, and to use resins from renewable sources. All these factors are expected to provide lucrative opportunities to vendors to invest in sustainable and eco-friendly label products in the next few years.
In terms of geography, the global IML market can be segmented into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Regions such as North America and Europe dominate the global IML market. Expanding food & dairy industry in Europe is raising the demand for IML in various food applications such as soft spreads, margarine, cheese, sauces, and ice-creams, as IML provides protection against water, ice, and other environmental factors. Rising consumer inclination toward aesthetic appeal of packaging and labelling is fueling the demand for IML in North America. The market in Asia Pacific is also estimated to witness significant growth during the forecast period, due to rising demand for efficient, innovative, and premium labels in the region. In addition, expanding manufacturing industries and rising disposable income in countries such as China, India, and Indonesia are propelling the demand for highly customized products. This, in turn, is boosting the IML market in Asia Pacific. Middle East & Africa and Latin America are expected to grow at low pace during the forecast period. However due to rising consumer awareness regarding branded packaged food and surging demand for packaged containers and bottled beverages in these regions demand for IML expected to rise moderately during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the global IML market are CCL Industries Inc., Constantia Flexibles Group GmbH, Huhtamaki Group, and Coveris Holding S.A.
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