Although printing as an industry has been around for centuries, it has only survived this long by constantly reinventing itself and finding new ways to be more creative, effective and efficient. Kemtek is at the forefront of labelling and printing innovations in South Africa, and here we share our predictions for key trends in 2018.

2018 will see a continuation of some of the trends and innovations that gained momentum last year, but are likely to attain critical mass during the next 12 months. While there are always risks as well as rewards in being an early adopter, being last is never a good survival strategy, either.


Printing and Labelling Industry Consolidation

We can state with a high degree of confidence that the labelling and printing industry will see further consolidation during 2018. However, it is likely to be a case of survival of the fastest, rather than the fittest. That is, those companies which are agile and receptive to new technologies will survive, while more cumbersome ‘dinosaurs’ may become extinct.



Closely linked to this trend is the increasing importance of automation. Printing presses are now more likely to be controlled by computers, and operating them is more about a mouse and keyboard rather than levers and a wrench. Companies that resist automation (perhaps out of fear) are unlikely to be able to offer the cost-savings that their more technophile competitors can.

Specialist, niche labelling and printing houses will always survive, but the middle ground will become hotly contested territory, and there won’t be room for everyone.


Talkin’ ‘bout my Generation

Although computers are not the exclusive preserve of the young, there is a pressing need in the labelling and printing industry to recruit the next generation. Look around you: how many millennials do you see? A clue: they’re the ones who see trends and innovations as exciting, rather than threatening. Recruitment and training will be major themes in 2018.



Consumer demands and the need to cut costs will drive much of the change we will see this year. Sustainability is now a huge challenge, especially as we are in an industry that creates some of the products that fuel the ‘throw-away culture’. Correcting this by using recycled (and more easily recyclable) materials will be a major trend in 2018 and beyond; innovative technologies like biopolymers will also play their part.

Consumers are already resistant to excessive packaging, so we will need to rethink how we wrap, box and protect our clients’ products. Environmental sustainability is now intrinsically linked to profitability – going green helps you stay in the black.


Brand Protectionism

The value and power of brands will only increase throughout 2018, and clients will become ever more protective of their intellectual property (IP) – their most valuable asset. This will be reflected in even less tolerance for printing errors such as poor colour reproduction or register.


Space Invaders

Making the most of the space on product packaging (while still decluttering – another key trend in 2018) will become more difficult due to increased government regulation of consumer products. The labelling industry will need to find new ways to add information on sugar content, calories, carbon footprint and the like, without creating labels that turn off shoppers.

From the extreme example of cigarette boxes through to ‘traffic lights’ on food packaging, as well as the aforementioned trend towards automation, 2018 could be the year that robots really make their mark in printing and labelling.