Shrink sleeves for food and beverage packaging

Consumers are consistently looking for new and different products to purchase. To meet this desire, companies are constantly trying to find new ways to differentiate their products from their competitors. Shrink sleeves are a perfect means of doing so. They represent an exciting new trend in the world of packaging and a growing opportunity for converters.


According to a recent Smithers Pira (2014), global sleeve label consumption to reach market value of $5.8 billion by 2019. Global consumption of stretch and shrink sleeve labels is forecast to grow at a calculated annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6% in the 2014-2019 period.

Smithers Pira 2013

A shrink sleeve is a new type of label that is printed in rolls of plastic film. Gravure is often utilized to print sleeves, especially if the shrink sleeve necessitates the highest quality graphics and/or very long runs. Flexo and offset printing are also used for shorter runs. Unlike labels, sleeves allow decorations and printing to cover the whole container. Shrink sleeves adhere to a container through the application of heat: hot air, steam, and infrared light.

Behind the glamour of finished shrink label is its material. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the most cost effective shrink material and the easiest to control in the shrink process. Its high shrinkability and low cost make it an attractive option. However, other substrates with comparable or more attractive properties are emerging such us PET and oriented polystyrene (OPS).

Shrink sleeves provide many aesthetic and functional labeling and packaging advantages. Shrink sleeves provide high quality, 360 degree head-to-toe graphics on a series of complex packaging shapes and container geometries. The result maximizes on-shelf impact and appeal and contributes to differentiation in the marketplace. Shrink sleeves also offer tamper-evident capabilities by protecting lids and tops. Since the imprint of shrink sleeves is printed on the back of the label, shrink sleeves also protect against scratching and scuffing which often occur during product shipments. Shrink sleeves can also reduce inventory by eliminating the need to stock printed containers, and add shelf-life to the product through UV protection. Shrink Sleeves are easily removed in the recycling process resulting in less environmental impact.

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