13 April 2022

Digital print in MEA grows as volumes shrink

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by Akanksha Meena
As the demand for high volume print drops, MEA print businesses see rising demand for short run value added jobs. This, in turn, has led to increased interest in digital print technology.
According to a report by Smithers, run lengths have decreased and print quality on short-run, on-demand, value-added print volumes has risen. The market has received a specific boost from the Covid-19 pandemic. As normal supply and consumer purchasing patterns were disrupted, the utilization of the installed base of digital presses rose to meet fluctuating demand from packaging buyers. Accordingly, print volumes for digital print in packaging rose by 20.8 percent across 2019-2020.
Nayyar Ansari, business development manager PPG – Division, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Middle East, says that global print volumes are coming down due to the pandemic as customers have become ‘really conscious’ about stocking volumes. Customers no longer want to stock print products. As demand patterns change and fluctuate, brands prefer short run just-in-time prints. With stocking comes the risk of wastage.
Additionally, the emergence of new startup brands, protocols guidelines, and sudden increased demand for healthcare and pharma products supplemented the need for print on demand.
Konica Minolta has been very successful in addressing these needs, Ansari adds.
Earlier, print businesses relied on conventional print technologies to address long run jobs due to stable operational costs and high quality print. At the same time, conventional printing technology requires multiple skillsets and expertise across the complete process from platemaking to final print.
Ansari highlights that before Covid, print businesses continued to invest due to the healthy demand for print. As volumes shrunk post-Covid, businesses are treading cautiously when it comes to investments. And relying on a conventional print setup could mean the inability to service high quantity short run jobs due to high operational costs.
In contrast, ‘When it comes to digital printing, all those aspects are taken care of by the printer. When pre-press processes are done, design can go directly to the printer. And for that quality consistency, Konica Minolta has technology called IQ – intelligent quality optimizer,’ Ansari explains.
Print trends are now centering on value-added digital print and managing turnaround times.
This is where Ansari says Konica Minolta will add value. He mentions that the quality of digital is coming close to conventional and it is already supplementing conventional print setups.
He says that the Middle East is emerging as one of the best-selling regions for Konica Minolta. The company installed five MGI JetVarnish embellishment machines in GCC region.
The demand for embellishment in industries such as perfumes and cosmetics is driving the MGI installations, according to Ansari.
At the upcoming Gulf Print & Pack 2022, the company will promote both its digital print and embellishment technology and showcase a range of print applications, including labels, across its booth.
Andy Thomas-Emans, strategic director at GPP organizer Tarsus Labels & Packaging group, commented: ‘New digital print and embellishment technologies have revolutionized the opportunities for commercial and packaging printers to offer new and innovative products and services to their brand customers. As soon as brands realize they can get print exactly when they need it, and can add personalized full color print and embellishment to print pieces from direct mail to labels, they are unlikely to go back to using conventional print.
‘As a long-standing exhibitor at GPP, Konica Minolta has been at the forefront of driving these changes across a wide range of applications from digital cut sheet to digital roll label and wide format. Most recently the company has pioneered digital embellishment, which combines tactile and high build inkjet varnish with digital foiling for a fully digital finishing workflow.’

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