FINAT’s prime annual event, the European Label Forum, moves this year to Berlin, 7-9 June. The ‘ELF’, as it is familiarly known, brings together a broad spectrum of industry leaders ranging from label converters to raw material suppliers, media and stakeholders from around the world, to debate major strategic business topics, gain in-depth market knowledge, and be inspired by a programme of top international speakers. The European label industry experiences turbulent times. The past 3-4 years have been characterised by strong recovery from the double dip crises around the turn of the decade, but past results are no guarantee for future success. Society’s tendency towards national autonomy, a business climate characterised by mergers and acquisitions, the rapid emergence of disruptive digital technology and Industry 4.0, the changing skills and profile of our industry’s workforce, and other factors are likely to have an impact on the future of the label industry. A journey into the label industry’s future In this year’s ELF, FINAT will take the event’s participants on a journey to the future, returning to today’s reality with a set of possible scenarios of the label industry’s business environment in 2020 – 2025 that can be used as background information for strategic decision making. For this purpose, FINAT has commissioned scenario planning expert Paul de Ruijter and his team from De Ruijter Strategy to conduct a project over the coming months that will culminate into two interactive parallel workshops to conclude the first day of the conference. Before then, the conference will have opened with an inspirational opening keynote address by ‘the other’ Michael Jackson, management guru from South Africa, who will wake up and inspire his audience to embark on this two day-journey to address the challenge of change. Industry 4.0 One key element of change for the coming years is certainly the 4th Industrial Revolution, or ‘Industry 4.0’ as it is often referred to, encompassing all technologies that connect, exchange data and cooperate with each other, via the ‘Internet of Things’, to automate and optimise manufacturing processes and create smart products that connect with the consumer. The remainder of the opening morning of the conference will put to the stage experts from Porsche Consulting (Germany), Evrything (United Kingdom) and Randstad (Benelux) to highlight the manufacturing process, product experience and people side of this disruptive evolution. All speakers will engage in an interactive debate with the audience during a closing panel. Market reports Like every year, via the European Label Forum, FINAT will update the label community about the latest market trends and developments. The second day of the conference will open with a summary of the association’s authoritative labelstock statistics and half-yearly market review, the FINAT RADAR. As a special treat, this year’s edition will also feature a FINAT-commissioned study into the present and future state of practice of digital label printing in Europe (by US-based market research agency LPC who already did a mirror study in North America), as well as a market review of Direct Digital Print on containers by AWA Alexander Watson Associates from The Netherlands. The ‘3 tenors’ Industry Leadership Panel One of the highlights of the second day will be a high-level panel featuring top leaders of 3 of the world’s largest label companies to reflect on the future of the label industry. Workshop host Paul de Ruijter supported by co-host/’side-kick’ and FINAT President-elect Chris Ellison, will debate the outline of the future landscape for our industry given the mega-drivers that are at stake. Joschka Fischer: the future of Europe in a divided western world Who would have predicted a year ago that Brexit and President Trump would be a reality today? What about the changing role play of the leadership at Europe’s eastern borders? And what impact will increasing polarisation, across Europe and world-wide, have on important national elections coming up in Germany, France, The Netherlands and possibly Italy this year? What impact will the on-going turmoil in the Middle East and Africa and the resulting refugee crisis have? European integration has changed tide, and bilateralism is making a comeback. It is therefore only appropriate, and with great pride, that FINAT will welcome as its closing keynote speaker Mr. Joschka Fischer, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany and one of the most highly respected statesmen of the late 20th century. He will present his insider view of the present and future landscape of European societies, connecting history, present and future. Full details about the programme, speakers and surrounding events such as the FINAT label and recycling awards and pre-conference workshops and social events, will be released soon. More details and how to register will be published here next month, in February. We look forward to seeing you at our event.