2024 Labels and Packaging Leaders Forum: Mark Daws, Currie Group

The impact of Covid had tremendous effect on label and packaging converters and many of our customers had multiple record sales months throughout the pandemic due to increased consumer demand for packaged goods.

Whilst 2023 showed signs of the industry re-setting, the demand still proved to be above pre-pandemic levels. For Currie Group, the flow through resulted in our most successful FY in sales of equipment into the label and packaging space, particularly in Australia.

The recent increase in cost of living coupled with climbing interest rates have resulted in more discretionary consumer buying, which has certainly impacted converters towards the back end of last year.

2023 was another exciting year for Currie Group, as we travelled overseas to meet with international industry leaders at both Dscoop Edge and HP Indigo VIP events.

We’ve been front and centre to witness the release of emergent new technology in the digital printing space and come together to share in the collaborative spirit that is the strength of our tight knit global community.

Bringing our customers along to these major industry events helped forge new alliances for all attendees and we all left inspired by the moving keynote address by Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson at DSCOOP.

In 2023, our business also announced key partnerships with Canon Production Printing Australia, B&R Moll, and JetFX, whilst further strengthening ties with HP Indigo and AB Graphic International with new strategic ideas for collaboration.

With important topics such as sustainable packaging and environmental stewardship being top of mind for us all both personally and professionally, we have seen the industry discourse altered by new and compelling narratives.

Sustainability discussions led by global leaders have now filtered down into the everyday discussions we are having with our customers and are high on the agenda when considering technology requirements.  The emphasis has shifted to technology that demonstrates reduced power consumption and that uses environmentally friendly consumables and ecologically considerate materials. So, the tables are turning on how to lead the sales process, giving digital printing an even bigger competitive advantage.

Events such as Labelexpo 2023 ushered in the launch of the game-changing HP Indigo V12 platform, which has crossed the boundaries of digital versus flexo, by offering fully digital print options that have the potential to replace two or three conventional flexo presses.

The V12 launch certainly created a buzz and we look forward to introducing this technology into the local market in 2024. Outside of this, the main takeaway from the expo was the focus on digital converting – more automation. Digital embellishments and laser die-cutting have come a long way since their inception. We’ll definitely see a transition towards this as the technology continues its evolution.

Sales of our technology offering have been strong, which is an indication that the industry is positive, particularly in Australia. High interest rates and the impact of Covid continue to buffer our New Zealand partners, however signs of resurgence are strong. 

Converters continue to invest in the latest and best-in-class technology. We will no doubt continue to see our industry consolidate, whilst many print service providers will look for new entries in labels and packaging, particularly labels and flexible packaging applications. Our industry is resilient, adaptive and will no doubt continue to be a leader in technology adoption.

In conjunction with AB Graphic Int. we are excited to host an open house in our Melbourne showroom. Latest platforms in the Digicon and SRI range will be on hand, along with industry experts and partners. The ever-successful Dscoop Indianapolis will take place in late March, followed by Drupa 2024, a large focus for our business.

We are anticipating a strong number of attendees from the labels and packaging space this year at Drupa. With the decline in commercial printing globally, many machine manufacturers are aiming to penetrate the packaging space, so expect to see new platform releases.  

Our key vendors such as HP Indigo will showcase a range of updates, with a key focus on the recently released HP Indigo V12 and HP Indigo 200K digital presses, with new concepts from AB Graphic, Karlville and OMET also being announced at Drupa.

Lookout for planned localised events during 2024 both in the lead up and post the show, including VIP Events in Singapore and of course we will have Labelexpo Chicago taking place in 2024. A very active year ahead for our teams and industry.

We will see a strong focus on the new HP Indigo V12 as it hits our shores, along with the HP Indigo 200K for flexible packaging/label applications of which the first installation will be announced soon.

Our industry leading HP Indigo 6K will continue to thrive, with more than 10 units installed in the last 12 months and more to follow. Digital embellishments and laser die-cutting continues to be embraced by our industry, so expect more on these also.

The ever-changing industry excites us! New start-up sites are coming soon, technology revolutions will hit our shores. For me, it’s the challenge of keeping up the pace, to ensure our customers have the best-in-class solutions and services. After all, our success can only ever be measured by theirs.

Mark Daws is Director – Labels & Packaging ANZ, Currie Group

This article was first published in the 2024 February edition of ProPack.pro magazine

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