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The writing is on the wall. Commercial printing is in decline and one way that can help printers to find new ways of bringing food to the family table is packaging. The question is how? ME Printer talks to printers and industry players in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen and UAE to find out why everyone considers packaging as the ultimate salvation 

The shift in the media landscape is creating new markets while at the same time is destroying the old ones. While many conventional print houses in the Middle East still enjoying a profitable market, but ultimately our region too will surrender to global forces that shape the future of graphic arts industry throughout the world. 

A growing number of printers already are vying for diversification, investing in other technologies and processes. Digital printing is very much in demand; however commercial printers see packaging as the safest bet and the ultimate salvation. 

The rise in population and quality of life as well as access to education makes quality packaging in demand more than ever. The packaging industry in the UAE, one of the largest in the Middle East and North Africa, is expected to be worth $2.3 billion by 2016, according to Bricdata’s Packaging Industry Outlook. While at the same time the global packaging material and machinery industry generates $500 billion yearly. One of the fastest growing segments within packaging markets is flexible. Based on a new report from PCI Films Consulting market for converted flexible packaging in the Middle East and Africa is 3.5 billion and accounts for around 5% of the total global converted flexible packaging market of $65 billion. The interesting fact is that the top 20 converters account for around 40% of total regional sales and with few exceptions, most of these companies are locally owned.

New food and food safety regulations are also playing an increasingly important part in how the packaging markets are developing in the region. Multinationals are finding Middle East an interesting market to invest not only because of growth in population and urbanisation but also they see the potential for setting up production centres in order to export to other parts of the world. Dairy products, juice sachets, dates packaging, ice cream wrappers, printed diapers and endless other products are becoming more and more in demand in the region. With the increase in urban population the demand for food preservation, logistics and packaging will also increase. 

But packaging especially the flexible one is a world apart from commercial printing. So what is the best strategy to enter the world of packaging? For a typical commercial printer adding folding carton production to its portfolio shouldn’t be very difficult. However there are already established package printers who have been catering to this portion of market since long time ago. Competing with these established printers is not easy. Another fact to consider is that package printers normally deal with loyal customers and repeat jobs. Many of them in our region don’t even see the benefit to buy a CTP system. But things are changing. Runs are getting shorter and the number of new jobs is increasing. Personalization and versioning especially for pharma packaging is increasing. 

Some of the high profile commercial printers in UAE already invested in state-of-the-art narrow web presses for the production of high quality labels. To understand more about the world of packaging and the possibilities it brings to printers we have talked with package printers and industry players in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Iran and Yemen to learn about their experiences in leveraging the packaging market. Our comprehensive report includes a visit to one of the biggest flexible packaging printer in UAE and region to find out the nuances and intricacies of an industry that is set to save printers from decline.


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