MENA print industry set to reach new heights

"Gulf Print & Pack Summit 2018 is a conference-led two-day educational event aimed at commercial printers, label and packaging converters, brand owners, designers and other members of the printing supply chain"

The global printing industry has gone through a period of structural changes, with a decline in commercial printing volumes, market consolidation and M&A prevalent around the world. On top of that, changing demographics, personalization, digital printing and sustainability are all trends defining the future of print and causing converters to evaluate their activities.

The Middle East and surrounding markets have not been immune to these trends but are set to benefit. According to statistics from Smithers Pira, the total value for printing in the Middle East will be worth more than US$20 billion for the first time in 2018 as the market continues to grow and transform.

The Smithers Pira report, The Future of Global Printing to 2022, further forecasts annual expansion for the Middle East, including Turkey, of 3.1 percent by value through to 2022.

Smithers Pira notes that the Middle East is still a relatively immature market for the consumption of printed media. And although many Middle Eastern consumers will follow the general global trend of adopting electronic alternatives to traditional print media – like newspapers and magazines – there is still scope for in other segments, like printed packaging.

Such developments and more will be presented at Gulf Print & Pack Summit 2018, taking place March 4-5 at the Roda Al Bustan hotel in Dubai.

Gulf Print & Pack Summit 2018 is a conference-led two-day educational event aimed at commercial printers, label and packaging converters, brand owners, designers and other members of the printing supply chain.

A full conference program features thought leaders from across the MENA region discussing the latest market drivers, such as customization and consumer demands, and technological developments from pre-press and printing, through to finishing.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Plates and workflow technologies;
  • Transforming the business of print with digital technology;
  • Comparison of conventional and digital finishing;
  • Developments in logistics labeling and tracking technologies;
  • Anti-counterfeiting;
  • Business transformation from commercial printing to flexible packaging; and
  • Strategic sourcing of offset and digital printing.

Stewart Johnston, head of consultancy, EMEA, Smithers Group, will give the opening presentation at Gulf Print & Pack Summit 2018, addressing macroeconomic trends in the Middle East and worldwide, market forecasts to understand and anticipate trends, and growth opportunities in the region.

Smithers Pira’s analysts identify the following key point for the Middle East market in 2018:

  • The Middle East will print the equivalent of 1.68 trillion A4 sheets in 2018;
  • Newspapers are the largest printed product by output (A4 equivalents) but also the fastest declining;
  • Turkey remains the most lucrative Middle East print market, closely followed by Saudi Arabia. Combined these two countries are 57.1 percent of value in this region;
  • Advertising, packaging and labels will be the fastest growing end-use applications for print (by value) in 2018;
  • The region will consume 91,640 tonnes of printing ink in 2018, with sales revenue from ink rising at 9.1 percent compared to 2017; and
  • Inkjet is now the third largest market segment for new print equipment sold for Middle East installations, and the fastest growing.

Speakers across the two days are to include: Chris Ellison, managing director, OPM (Labels and Packaging) Group, and Finat president; Chris Lynch, head of production Technology, Xerox Middle East and Africa; Adrian Shuttleworth, worldwide product manager, offset plates, Kodak; Victor Abergel, executive vice president and managing director, MGI Digital Technology Group; Sanjay Alekar, division manager, India Sub Continent, Middle East and Africa, UPS Logistics; Kuldip Goel, managing director, Any Graphics, and LMAI president; Ayhan Uslu, regional sales director, sales and marketing unit, security, Leonhard Kurz; and Enayet Kabir, deputy general manager, central indirect procurement, Landmark (view a gallery of the speakers below).

A series of short presentations will cover technical innovation, and the latest technologies and industry applications. Companies presenting will include Heidelberg, Bobst, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Middle East and Phoenix Technologies.

The program features two standout panel discussions, with a CEO group to discuss initiatives for business expansion and to remain competitive; new technologies to modernize a printing plant and areas for investment. Participants are to include: Vinesh Bhimani, managing director, Kimoha Entrepreneurs; Amit Radia, CEO, Atlas Printing Press; Chandrasain Negandhi, managing director, Leo Pack; and Sebastian Lonth, general manager, Reprotronics.

A retailer and brand panel discussion will see Sukhdev Singh Saini, EMEA packaging lead at General Mills, and Perwaze Qaiser, regional head of packaging R&D for MENA, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus at Unilever, discussing private label versus premium brands, propelling personalization with seasonal, regional and local promotional products, and maximizing brand enhancement by creating a premium look.

See the full program on the Gulf Print & Pack 2018 website.

Lisa Millburn, managing director, Gulf Print & Pack, explains: ‘Gulf Print & Pack Summit will be taking a hard look at the major issues affecting the printing sector both in the Middle East and the wider international scene. The event is set to be a lively forum for ideas and interactive discussion with a heavy focus on innovative production strategies and key technological developments. Delegates will be certain to take away good ideas and effective tips for ways to improve and streamline their operational processes and learn how they can implement the latest technologies to enhance their productivity and add value to their business and clients.’

The conference program is supplemented by a table-top exhibition, where the likes of Bobst, Heidelberg, Xerox, Konica Minolta, Nilpeter, Durst, Epson, Heliozid Oce, Afra, Anoop and Vinsak will be presenting their latest and greatest services and technologies, and seeking to meet and educate delegates from across the region.

Vinsak, for example, will present technologies from its own portfolio as well as partners Lombardi, Iwasaki and Pantec as it seeks to address predicted growth in flexo printing, UV inkjet for serialization and brand protection, and packaging for e-commerce.

Vinsak goes on to identify a growth in packaging companies helping brand owners fight counterfeiting, sustainability initiatives within the packaging industry and an increase in the use of packaging formats like IML and HTL, taking market share away from self-adhesive stocks.

Afra, meanwhile, sees digital printing, light packaging, flexible packaging and corrugated as areas for growth.

Vinay Krishnan, general manager at Afra, identifies how the region’s print industry is going through a drastic change, with Gulf Print & Pack Summit set to address this. ‘The major topic of discussion should be solutions for the current market problems of the printers in MENA that are contributing to the downfall of the commercial print business in the area.’

Afra’s focus at the event will be on-demand flexible printing and finishing, digital label printing and flexo packaging. It will be showing a ‘revolutionary’ smart digital label press on its booth.

Konica Minolta specifically sees opportunities for digital printing technology in numerous markets over the next five years.

Nayyar Ansari, production print business development manager, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Middle East, says: ‘Digital printing equipment sales show strong growth in all regions as printers understand how to capitalize on the opportunities.

‘The technology is necessary for direct mail, transactional and security where variable data is used. It is growing in books, labels and commercial printing, while making inroads into catalogues, magazines and the big opportunity in packaging.’

At Gulf Print & Pack 2018, the Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C71cf toner-based digital label press will be presented as an option to allow business to expand into small and medium runs of labels. The AccurioPress C6100 will be highlighted as part of Konica Minolta’s focus on color matching and conformity across different substrates. This is to include print matching on pre-printed offset and flexo samples, received from customers and printed without any standards followed. Flexo and offset color matching, spot color matching using the XCMYK expanded gamut concept, improper handling of transparencies by RIPs, missing fonts and other file related issues will also be looked at.

Xerox identifies the event as an opportunity for business leaders and owners to discuss graphic communications market trends in the coming years and highlight specific market sectors and applications which represent growth opportunities for print service providers (PSPs). Identifying the right digital technology in which to invest and helping PSP’s overcome the issues which have prevented them from migrating more work from offset to digital will be important topics to explore.

Xerox’s Lynch says: ‘The MENA print market is hugely important for Xerox because it is a developing market where there is a growing demand for digital printing technology. However, with many competing suppliers vying for the same customers, it is likely that there will be some consolidation in the market with mergers and acquisitions taking place. That said, there is still a huge opportunity for growth in both toner-based and inkjet technologies and we expect to see PSPs develop their services to become more niche or specialized as they seek to develop stronger relationships with their clients and provide a greater range of services, such as marketing and distribution/fulfillment.’

Roger Nicodeme, general manager, sales, Heidelberg Middle East, confirms that MENA is a very important region, even though the size of business is not as large as China, Europe or America. ‘It is a developing market and printers are eager to learn and to implement new technologies into the printing process.’

Nicodeme adds: ‘More commercial printers will disappear, and more competition will come to packaging.’

Heidelberg sees packaging, labels, digital and workflows to be the main areas of growth in the near future. Heidelberg will be showcasing zero defect packaging at Gulf Print & Pack 2018. The printing machinery manufacturer notes continued globalization, rising demand for different types of packaging and a shorter time to market being accompanied by increases in complexity. This can increase the risk of errors in production. A smart print shop, Heidelberg states, featuring its automated quality assurance technologies, can eliminate the risks.

Bobst likewise sees the main development in the MENA printing industry over the next five years as being packaging. Pharmaceutical and food applications will see a greater volume of short runs with higher quality requirements. This will drive digital adoption. In addition, evolving health, safety, security and the environment (HSSE) regulations will require investment in cutting-edge technology to respond to these requirements.

At Gulf Print & Pack Summit 2018, Bobst showcases high productivity technologies for the folding carton packaging industry, such as die-cutters with blanking and folder gluer technology with a new option for high speed processing of crash lock bottom boxes.

Mohamed Hassairi, communications manager at Bobst Africa & Middle East, comments: ‘The MENA print industry is important to Bobst as it is expected to keep growing and there are countries having big potential. Also, the growing number of Bobst machine installations is very important for the service business.’

Nilpeter Middle East highlights the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and hygiene segments as ones to watch in the near future. The company’s Manu Muraleekrishnan notes how mid web flexible packaging is of growing importance, along with the value addition provided by digital printing. As such, Nilpeter’s presence at Gulf Print & Pack 2018 will place a focus on the company’s new FA and FB presses, and the Panorama hybrid press platform that combines digital and flexo technology. AB Graphic finishing options will also be showcased.

‘The MENA region holds a decent share of Nilpeter’s overall business,’ comments Muraleekrishnan. ‘We are taking the MENA market very seriously due to the developments happening in recent years.’

More than 30 percent of Vinsak’s revenue comes from the MENA region, and the company predicts healthy growth the market in the future.

Hassairi continues: ‘MENA is very fast developing market. Bobst is giving more and more importance to better serve our clients in the region by implanting branch offices in the area, and having local technicians closer to our customers.’

Lynch concludes: ‘Xerox is committed to help grow this market and our investment in events such as Gulf Print & Pack Summit reflects our commitment to the print industry in this region.’

Register for Gulf Print & Pack Summit 2018 at