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Belgian in-mold label specialist seeing growth in North America

By: Rhoda Miel

November 14, 2013

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — The United States makes up the second largest market for Verstraete In Mould Labels, but that amount is growing as North American companies opt for in-mold labeling to set themselves apart on store shelves.

The makers of margarine, for instance, used to all package their products in round containers with direct printing, said Koen Verstraete, managing director for the Belgian in-mold label specialist. Now they are increasingly opting for an oval container using in-mold labels.

“And what one company does, the others follow,” he said in an interview at K2013 in Düsseldorf.

Verstraete IML's new mock-up digital printed IML system should also help drive the conversion of more products to in-mold labeling.

Product designers who need to show customers exactly how a product will look can have 50 copies of a label printed and shipped from Belgium within two days.

“So he can say to the customer that it's going to look just like that,” Verstraete said.

Currently, the U.S. accounts for 17 million euros ($23.2 million) of Verstraete IML’s total sales of 95 million euros ($129.9 million), he said.

The company says it is the world's largest in-mold label producer, with 600 million customers and producing 40 million labels each day. Its reach is obvious throughout K 2013, where its labels are being used in production by 16 different companies at eight different halls.

This year's show also marks the company's first time as an independent exhibitor at K. It has had a presence in the past, with space at partner companies running their labels. Verstraete said the company already had 350 separate contacts through the first five days of the show, and having its own booth gave the company a better opportunity to show its new products.

Its laminated film product — which places the image on the back side of a clear film — has proved very popular for cups and mugs which are reused. The film meets higher requirements for food safety because the image is not likely to be scratched or flake off in the dishwasher.

The laminated film has been popular with sports stadiums and festivals where they may be re-used, either by the stadium or by fans who take it home as a souvenir.

Other IML systems being featured at Verstraete include its oxygen and light barrier films, which help to extend shelf life of foods, thermoformable films and double-sided films.