Sandor Petofi is one of the great figures of Hungarian literature. Poet, patriot and revolutionary, he was captured and killed in 1849, at age 27. His name lives on in his poetry, in the many avenues and squares named after him in Hungarian towns, and in the name of the country's leading label converter. Label & Narrow Web went to Petofi Label Company recently to see the plant and meet its general manager, Bela Csuthi.
M-Real Petofi Label Kft has a history going back to the mid-19th Century, when a printing plant was established in Kecskemet, 70 kilometers southeast of Budapest. It specialized in printed packaging, labels and other types of commercial printing. Nationalized by the communists in 1949, reprivatized in 1990 as part of the Cofinec Group, it was finally acquired by Finland's M-Real (formerly known as Metsa-Serla) in 2000.
Bela Csuthi welcomed us in the company's modern factory and office complex just outside the town, and answered our questions:
Label & Narrow Web: Your company now specializes in self-adhesive labels. Does that mean that you have stopped making packaging?
Csuthi: In the year 2000, when the Finnish company acquired us, the former Cofinec was demerged into six new limited companies, on the basis of the different packaging technologies. Our sister company on this same site (M-real Petofi Printing House) specializes in all kinds of boxes and microwave packaging, and I should add that they, like us, are the leading Hungarian producer in their sector. However, we do make some printed packaging here, mostly pouches, blister packs and other packaging products which are suited to in-line production. This is a relatively new venture for us but it's already some 10 percent of our sales.
LNW: You print mostly offset, at a time when many of your competitors are turning increasingly to flexo. Why?
Csuthi: We use combination presses, which print in flexo as well, but it is correct that offset is still our specialty because we believe that nothing can match it for quality. We have five presses, of which the two most recent are from Nilpeter. They are basically offset machines, but with flexo, screen and hot foil units incorporated. All our presses are of recent design, and they give us a theoretical capacity of over 2,000 meters per hour and an actual production which was well over six million square meters in 2003.
LNW: And how do you think the Hungarian label market will develop?