Since 2020, inkjet and electrophotography printing has secured new markets in labels and packaging. A new Smithers report, The Future of Digital Print for Packaging to 2026, reveals total value will reach $21.1 billion in 2021. 

This makes sense, as run lengths have decreased and print quality on inkjet presses has risen; but the market has received a specific boost from the Covid-19 pandemic. As normal supply and consumer purchasing patterns were disrupted, the use of digital presses rose to meet fluctuating demand from packagers. Accordingly print volumes for digital print in packaging rose by 20.8% across 2019-2020. 

With other print segments badly hit by Covid-19, packaging and labels are increasingly the focus for many print OEMs, with the latest digital technology promising to open new segments and print options for print service providers. Overall from 2021-2026, demand for digital printed packaging will significantly outperform the broader market.

Led by inkjet, digital’s share of the printed label and packaging market will increase at a total of 11.2% to $35.9 billion in 2026.

Labels still account for the majority of digital output in 2021, but these will have a relatively low CAGR of 5.6% to 2026. Growth will be fastest in corrugated, closely followed by folding cartons.