As a focused global speciality packaging company, CCL Label understands the importance of high-impact labelling across the beverage sector. Gunther Birkner, president, food and beverage worldwide, explains how the company works with multinational brands to create high-tech, sustainable solutions for brand differentiation in a competitive marketplace.
Within the food and beverage sector, competition is notoriously fierce. For consumers, it's all about the snap decision - picking a product at speed so as not to prolong their shopping trip. Broadly speaking, this means that recognised brands and the most eye-catching products stand the best chance of success.
For this reason, it is imperative that brands invest wisely in their packaging and labelling choices, ensuring that their aesthetic and tactile qualities set them apart from the competition. Plain, uninteresting labelling will not suffice in the fight for market share.
"Our customers want to use forms of packaging that stand out from the crowd," says Günther Birkner, president, food and beverage worldwide, CCL Label. "We are able to offer premium decoration technologies including shrink sleeves, enabling customers to have a 360° decoration of their product."
CCL Label is well placed to help customers forge success. As part of the global speciality packaging company CCL, its satisfied customers include many of the world's largest consumer goods companies. While CCL covers a wide range of market segments, including home and personal care, healthcare, agrochemical, promotional and automotive, its food and beverage division is the fastest-growing business.
As the world's leading pressure-sensitive label and sleeve producer, CCL is able to offer an extensive array of solutions, including expanded content, 2-Ply, WashOff, RFID and promotional pieces. As Birkner explains, customer demands are prompting the development of ever more sophisticated products. "Customers request more embellishments and features built into their labels and sleeves, which is why we are continuously investing in state-of-the-art manufacturing platforms, often tailor-made and unique to CCL," he says. "The trend is clearly in premiumising brands with high-end graphics often including metallics and surface finishes in order to achieve textures that consumers will connect with the brand. For example, sleeves may have a more natural look with a matte or soft-touch surface."
CCL offers various sleeve technologies, including Stretch Sleeves - which can be applied onto a container without the need for heatshrink tunnels or adhesives. Held in place by their natural elasticity alone, these allow for 360° of decoration of containers with a diameter difference up to 35%.
While these are highly adaptable and easy to apply, customers seeking maximum flexibility should opt for Shrink Sleeves, which boast a shrinkage ratio of up to 80% and can be affixed to a wide variety of containers using a thermal treatment. Shape, size and material are no object, and it doesn't matter whether the container is full or empty.
Another key concern is, of course, sustainability. CCL takes its commitment towards the environment seriously, working hard to improve reduced waste levels, use renewable energy and participate in closed-loop recycling initiatives. It also continues to innovate from a product standpoint. As well as making smart material choices, it has developed eco-friendly products like its pressure-sensitive 'WashOff' labels, which can be removed from returnable bottles in industrial washing machines.
"If you look at the history of sleeves, the main material used has always been PVC but, today, the majority of our sleeves are PVC-free," adds Birkner. "Sustainability is very important for our customers, so it's important for us, and we are now reducing the thickness of the sleeve to become thinner and develop films that allow closed-loop recycling of sleeved containers. To top all of this, we have developed what we call Super-Stretch Sleeves, which offer the smallest carbon footprint of any kind of labelling technology."
Looking to the years ahead, Birkner feels there is scope for further, exciting developments of this kind. CCL Label is a global business, with headquarters in Toronto, Canada, and close to 100 manufacturing locations in 27 countries across the world. This places it in close proximity to its customers, many of them multinationals serving different market segments themselves. As demand for innovative food and beverage labelling surges across the world, the company is looking to expand its footprint further.
"Today, you have to be a global player, and while we are already strongly positioned, we still have to expand our presence into frontier markets where our customers continue to invest," Birkner explains. "There is still a large potential in emerging markets with many people turning into consumers with disposable income, driving demand for consumer goods."
CCL will also look to invest more in material science, enabling it to continue to develop customised solutions and proprietary materials. Already, it can provide cutting-edge labelling technology for the most diverse food and beverage requirements, supplying tailor-made solutions that cater to its customers' manifold needs.
"We are continuously looking to innovate and improve our offering and be the supply chain partner of choice for premium decoration technology," as Birkner puts it.