Labels in Africa and The Middle East: AWA Alexander Watson Associates examines one of the label industry's most intriguing regions.


The Middle East and Africa together represent a diverse geographical region offering real growth opportunities for technical know-how and business expertise of every kind--and therefore for packaging and labeling in particular. The region is a combination of both technologically-advanced and underdeveloped countries. There are an estimated 60 languages spoken here--and its lack of homogeneity presents both challenges as well as opportunities. At the heart of the established label market in the region is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose growing international market profile initially attracted the interest of strong Indian label converters with ambitions to go global. Today, most of the UAE label industry is owned or controlled by parent companies in India.

The UAE's label market--currently representing around 50 million square meters annually--continues to be a focus for expansion. More and more printers are entering the market and offering regional services--often across the range of labeling technologies. This is creating intense competition. A high proportion of the UAE's products, and their labels, are exported to other countries, both within the region as well as abroad.

Glue-applied labels

The overall MEA regional label market grew at an estimated 3.9% in 2018. Glue-applied labeling is the main labeling technology, with a 53% market share, and the sector is still growing at a healthy 4% per annum.

Pressure sensitive labels

In the Middle East, as in other parts of the world, pressure sensitive labeling continues to be one of the fastest-growing and predominantly-used labeling formats, with an estimated 40% share of the total label printing market in 2018. Pressure sensitive labels grew at a relatively high rate across the region at 4.1% in 2018. It should be noted that the MEA is, however, still the world's smallest regional pressure sensitive label market, representing 803 million square meters of volume, which is just 3% of worldwide pressure sensitive label consumption.

In-mold labels

In-mold labels are a format of significant interest in countries around the region, with volumes growing in 2018 by 4.5% to 51 million square meters. Labels for blow molding are the leading application technology, claiming an estimated 71% of Africa and Middle East demand.

Global label market growth by region (source: AWA) %Growth 2017/2016 North America 3.2% Europe 3.8% Asia 5.8% South America 1.6% AME 3.9% Global 4.3% Note: Table made from bar graph. The label technology split in the Middle East region...

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