According to a report by Future Market Insights (IMF), the healthcare and laboratory label market is valued at US$9.2 billion in 2022. By 2030, this figure is expected to reach US$13.5 billion. US, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% over the next eight years. The COVID-19 pandemic, changing demographics and advances in medical technology will likely continue to drive this growth – although, as pharmaceutical regulations tighten and adjacent industries struggle with supply chain strains, there may be challenges to overcome.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a significant change in the way consumers interact and relate to all products, including all pharmaceuticals. Increased awareness of the spread of disease through contact with surfaces – particularly early in the pandemic, before it was suggested to be a low-risk route of transmission for SARS-CoV -2 – has increased the demand for contactless solutions across industries.
According to the IMF, the possible implications of this are the use of labeling to support contactless healthcare, allowing the transmission of data between healthcare workers and patients while minimizing contact and potentially the spread of the infection. This could mean changes, such as in the way doctors and pharmacists label and therefore prescribe drugs.
Consumers appear to have become more aware of digital onboarding through methods such as QR codes, which have been used, for example, to “register” on sites so that anyone exposed to COVID infection -19 can be tracked and traced. However, as COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise, it has become more difficult to track, trace and record data, especially as the healthcare sector is increasingly under pressure due to issues such as lack of staff. The use of digital labeling could, in the future, help streamline interactions between healthcare professionals and patients.
Additionally, laboratory labels have become essential for applications such as national COVID-19 testing programs. With research into infectious diseases like COVID-19 also likely to be an expanding segment, the IMF stresses the importance of laboratory labels to help ensure the safety and efficiency of ongoing and future research.
“Thanks to these factors, the COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed market growth and the demand for labels will remain high throughout the pandemic period,” writes IMF.
The demographic drivers of growth
As IMF explains, medical labeling is already an established and essential industry. Labels help patients in a variety of ways – for example, understanding how to use, safely store, or maintain a medical device or medication. Patients need to be made aware of the risks and benefits of medical help in a way they can understand, IMF adds, with labels being a key part of enabling this communication.
The main drivers of industry growth therefore appear to be driven by changes in the medical industry and the way patients are treated. FMI says the use of medical devices and complex home treatments is on the rise, supported by research and development of new and updated technologies by competitive pharmaceutical companies. This will apparently make safe and effective medical labeling even more important.
It is important to note that the medical industry tests new devices and drugs on a large scale, with several sites around the world. FMI adds that it will also increase the demand for healthcare and laboratory labels, as companies will need to ensure that they provide relevant information during production, storage, transport and distribution. Labels will also need to be printed in multiple languages to ensure clear and localized communication, again increasing demand, according to IMF.
IMF also notes that there are significant demographic shifts that are altering how people interact with the healthcare system in their country or region, again with ripple effects for labeling. With many countries having an aging population, the demand for healthcare is likely to increase, thus leading to an increase in the demand for healthcare labels. A recent study from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada found that older people were willing to use smart packaging, which could include RFID or NFC tags, if it was easy to use, consistent and not too expensive.
As for millennials, IMF says this is a generation that prioritizes health care labeling. This group would be more likely to research products before making purchase decisions and will look to brands that are transparent about environmental and social issues. Healthcare labeling will be important, according to the IMF, in promoting brand authenticity to millennial consumers and offering enhanced information flows, such as a supporting application for labeling solutions.
Millennials are also interested in healthcare solutions that support a healthy lifestyle, such as nutraceuticals, reports the IMF. Again, this will apparently require brands to ensure clear and transparent labeling to appeal to this demographic and the growth potential it offers. It seems brands are taking notice; for example, Berocca recently underwent a redesign courtesy of Free the Birds that aimed to make its scientific aspects more accessible to consumers.
Map the industry and its materials
In terms of the material composition of healthcare labels, FMI predicts that paper-based labels will remain the most requested type of material. Easily available and affordable, paper labels represent almost 65% of the market value of healthcare labels.
Polyolefin-based labels are expected to generate an additional US$1.45 million opportunity between 2022 and 2030, according to the IMF. The group attributes this to the strong adhesive properties of polyolefin-based labels, which are particularly important for growing segments such as nutraceuticals.
In terms of regional distribution, FMI expects North America to remain the dominant market for healthcare labels. The region is believed to account for nearly 30% of the healthcare label market share, which IMF attributes to its emphasis on safety, such as strict FDA regulations, in its healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.
East Asia is the second largest market for healthcare labels. According to the IMF, the region “has tremendous growth potential” due to increased health spending, possibly resulting from its growing population and the popularity of so-called health tourism in places like India. India, China, Malaysia and Thailand. Meanwhile, IMF says the healthcare label industry could similarly grow in South Asia, at a CAGR of 7.5%.
IMF also identifies Europe as a region likely to see significant expansion in the healthcare labeling market. In Europe, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Germany and France are apparently leading in terms of demand. In this region, FMI expects demand for advanced pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals to drive research and development in both product and labeling opportunities. IMF predicts that the clinical research market in NAFTA countries will also grow.
“The market for healthcare and laboratory labels is a fragmented market,” adds FMI. “Major players operating in the market are focusing on expanding their research globally, diversifying their product portfolio and rapid product development to gain a competitive advantage.”
The healthcare and laboratory label market is not without its challenges. Labeling companies must consider location-specific regulations, which means labels may need to be changed depending on the region the product is sold in, increasing operational costs and lead times.
IMF explains: “For medical devices and diagnostics that are to be sold in the EU and non-EU countries, legal difficulties arise. Label space is limited and large amounts of information must be included. Translations may be required to be technically accurate, but most of the time they are literal. This problem could also be compounded by Brexit, which has caused a number of difficulties for various packaging segments due to a lack of clarity on regulations and import and export pricing issues.
The changing nature of end-user requirements also complicates the composition of materials, dimensions and printing of medical labels, according to FMI. Some medical labeling companies seem to view this as a constraint, as it can make operations unpredictable.
There are emerging solutions for these challenges. For example, Schreiner MediPharm recently announced a Freeze-lock cryogenic label with a locking layer solution that improves its adhesive strength for frozen drug containers. The company offers labels with a booklet that can be unfolded or unrolled, leaving room for more information, which apparently makes these solutions particularly suitable for clinical trials conducted in different locations.
However, FINAT recently published a report on the European label industry which suggests that increased demand for label stock could be undermined by raw material shortages, supply chain tensions and ongoing strikes. In addition, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could further destabilize the supply of materials such as wood, as well as drive up energy prices with energy-intensive industries like paper and plastics – two of the main materials used in healthcare labels – likely to take a big hit. FINAT says this could mean printers will soon be unable to meet orders, with bottlenecks and label shortages potentially impacting critical industries like pharmaceutical labeling in weeks and months. coming months.