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Top Tag and Label Converters

June 2003
AS REPORTED IN packagePRINTING's 2003 State of the Industry Report for tags and labels (March, p. 54), label printers are continuing to tighten their belts, waiting for a solid recovery to ignite from the smoldering embers of our economy. The responses to our 2003 Top Tag and Label Converters Survey indicate that these efforts appear to be paying off.

Similar to the levels achieved last year, 55 percent of respondents reported increased sales from 2001 to 2002. As an indication that the bleeding may have stopped, just 11 percent indicated sales decreases, down from 41 percent in last year's survey.

These numbers seem even more significant when looking at the capacity utilization data. About 53 percent of the companies reported running at capacities less than 80 percent, with just 9 percent running above 90 percent.

By one measurement, employment in the label printing industry seems to be holding its own. A little more than 32 percent of the companies reported a higher number of employees versus last year, while 28 percent decreased employment.

Industry consolidation is a continuing factor. Understandably weighted toward the top end of the Top Tag and Label Converters listing, 18 percent of the respondents reported having acquired or merged with another company in 2002.

To maintain healthy businesses, label printers are continuing an aggressive pursuit of new business opportunities. Matching the significant level established last year, almost 80 percent of respondents reported they will be expanding into new areas of package printing in 2003, with about 53 percent adding new label printing processes, 45 percent pursuing new end-use markets, and 27 percent expanding in the flexible packaging area. A number of companies, 15 percent, are pursuing expanded business in all three areas. Also, in an area to watch over the next couple years, nine companies reported the addition of digital printing capabilities to their arsenal.

While times are still tough in package printing markets, label converters seem to be fending off economic doom through a double-barrel approach of belt tightening and aggressive pursuit of new business opportunities. These efforts are sure to be rewarded when the economy gets back on track.

Here are PDF files of the 2003 Top Tag and Label Converters (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader):

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