In-mould sets sights on new label markets

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Plastic Business development

In-mould sets sights on new label markets
From 3D differentiation to metallised finishes, thermoforming and – potentially – oxygen barrier, in-mould labelling (IML) for plastics is opening up new options for food manufacturers.

Belgian-based IML label converter Verstraete supplied many of the exhibits at the recent K2010 plastics show in Germany. According to business development manager Dieter Maes, the number of 'look and feel' quality options has multiplied over recent years to include white, clear, matt, gloss, spot gloss, metallised and many other finishes.

"A couple of product categories in the UK, including confectionery, are about to introduce a metallised IML surface for seasonal products," Maes announced. "Brands such as Kraft's Philadelphia have gone from direct printing to photo-quality IML." This was partly because of a move away from a straight-sided tub to a more rounded design.

"With own-label products now imitating some well-known formats, brand owners have calculated that, although a new shape might have cost implications, it will be worth it in order to have a distinct pack," he explained. In some cases, such as fresh cream, the shift from shrink sleeves to IML has been driven partly by preferences for mono-material, recyclable packs.

The range of 'look and feel' options means that injection moulders can use the same tooling to produce very different-looking packs for distinct product categories. But at the same time, mould-change options have become faster.

One area of huge interest to brand owners is barrier IML. Here, Verstraete said it has the barrier options, but wants to establish "proper prototypes with well-defined barrier requirements". Maes added: "We hope to see a barrier IML product on-shelf in the next 12 months."

But, as well as injection moulding, thermoformers are also getting in on the act.

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast