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24 April 2024

Current challenges for the label industry being addressed at the FINAT European Label Forum 2024

The yearly European Label Forum (ELF) is THE meeting place for the international label industry to network, learn, and shape the future together with industry leaders. In 2024, we are at the intersection of transitory changes with all the disruption but also enough opportunities to thrive. Once again, labelling leaders have been invited to one of the event's panels to talk about this beautiful industry and its challenges and opportunities. What challenges do they see? 

Dr. Guido Spachtholz, Managing Director of HERMA GmbH, explains: ‘Amongst others, I believe that in 2024 we will face two major challenges, both as an industry and as a society. The first is for companies to focus on sustainability and climate change, contributing to CO2 reduction, the circular economy and the transition away from fossil energy sources. And this has to be achieved with the balancing act of ensuring stable profitability and economic stability of the company alongside this reorientation. A second major theme will be digitalization and the introduction of artificial intelligence in companies. The use of Generative AI offers great potential for increasing efficiency and reducing pure knowledge or research work - however, the framework conditions for working with this new technology must be created and fears must certainly be allayed. Finally, alongside the current hype around Generative AI, it is important to ensure that work on “traditional” data-based digitalization tools continues.’ 

Pleased to also be a member of the industry panel this year, Dr. Johannes Michael Wareka, CEO of the Marzek Group, mostly sees sustainability as an issue, ‘with legal regulations, recycling requirements and documentation of the footprint along the supply chain. This also raises the question of the long-term future of self-adhesive labels and packaging. We all face the excessive need for certificates and audits such as: ISO 9001, 14001, 15378, 22.000, CSRD, DPG, BRCgs, HACCP, SBTI, GRI, FSC, PEFC… As it becomes progressively more difficult for smaller companies to meet all these requirements, this will increase consolidation trends in our industry.’ 

These challenges are also echoed by Jeremy Lagay, Senior Vice President of Iconex Europe. ‘Our industry is probably going through some of the most dynamic, exciting, but also equally challenging times. I would retain 3 key challenges which can also be clear opportunities for our industries:  

  • Sustainability: there is clearly an increased interest for more sustainable solutions, such as recyclable & biodegradable. During 2023 & onward, we are also observing customers enhanced willingness to choose partners able to demonstrate an end-to-end decarbonation approach. 

  • Innovation & Digitization: Smart Techs (Big Data, AI, Automation, Digital printing) tend to become “the norm”, and continue to accelerate, enabling high efficiency potential whilst being challenging to continuously adopt these at the right speed.  

  • Economical: global rebalancing, inflation, & geopolitical context continues to display high level of uncertainty, translating into economical tension.’ 

Fernando Giron, Commercial Director EMEA of Fedrigoni Group, mentioned two challenges:

  • Geopolitical events impacting label material availability - We finished 2023 and started 2024 with the crisis of the red sea, which has reminded us again the critical need for resilience within global supply chains. Moreover, later in the year, the political strike by the SAK Labor Union & JHL in Finland starting March 11th has raised again concerns whether this could disrupt, like it did in 2022, the supply chains for label and packaging stocks
  • Understanding packaging sustainability legislations in the label industry – The packaging industry and in specific our label industry continues learning how to interpret sustainability legislations that may or may not impact our label industry as well as the readiness of the packaging industry in the different EU countries, and how each country applies these legislations on its own time and form.

Also joining this industry panel are Hassan Rmaile, President & CEO of MCC Label, and Gunther Birkner, President of CCL Label & Innovia Films. 

With this very impressive group of thought leaders, the industry panel promises to be one of the highlights of this year's top-notch programme. Make sure to check it out on and secure your seat today!