Digital Print for Packaging Europe 2023 Roundup

Digital Print for Packaging Europe Springfield Solutions

On the 5th & 6th of December, Matt Dass attended Europe’s leading digital print for packaging event, Digital Print for Packaging Europe.  

Some of the key topics discussed were sustainability, water-based inks, personalisation and automation. 

During the event, Matt held a talk discussing the future of artwork design for digital print. This included our thoughts on: 

  • Packaging artwork features to improve sustainability 
  • The future of AI tools to enhance human creativity and expertise 
  • Best practices for digital artwork management for optimum results  

Read on to hear Matt’s thoughts on the event, and some of the key insights taken from key speakers on the future of Digital Print in the Packaging industry! 

Digital Print for Packaging Europe 2023 Day 1 

Sean Smith – Smithers 

The first talk attended on day one of the event was from Sean Smith. Sean discussed the latest trends and developments in digital print for packaging including the drive for greater sustainability in the packaging value chain. 

Some key points taken from Sean’s talk were: 

  • EU Digital Passport – roll out 2026, most products by 2030
  • “Inkjet will be the technology that wins”
  • 15M more printed packaging items in 2027, but at shorter runs
  • 65% of all packaging types to be recycled by 2025

Steve Wardle –  Kellanova 

Next up was Steve Wardle, Senior Manager, Design Operations & Process at Kellanova. Steve discussed sustainability and regulation as strategic drivers in the shift towards digital print as well as Digital vs Conventional printing and the business impact for brands throughout the packaging supply chain. 

Some key takeaways from Steve’s talk were: 

  • Analogue Printed Packaging Lead Time is 60 Days
  • “What about just CMYK?” “Or even CMY?” – Steve was challenging large brand owners to simplify their packaging when it comes to colour which leads to improved efficiencies, reduced costs and faster speed to market.
  • Think Hybrid – use both conventional and digital to benefit the business case

Ian Schofield, Paul Horton (Diageo), Steve Wardle (Kellanova), Stefan Casey (Nestlé) – Panel discussion; What do brand owners and retailers want from digital print in the future? 

This panel gave great insight into the demands driving the future of digital print, from variable data and personalisation to using digital printing to create emotional connections with consumers. 

One particular quote which stuck was ‘Hand, eye & heart’, discussed by Paul Horton from Diageo. This topic referred to how digital print can help brands connect to consumers senses and emotions (touch, sight and feeling).  

Digital Print for Packaging Europe

An example of this was the 2,500 limited edition Gorillaz bottle run for Diageo, which saw the digital band Gorillaz adorn Smirnoff packaging along with cocktail recipes, playing into fandom and consumer connection.  

Another topic highlighted during this panel was the lack of digitally printed packaging projects, and a concern over the design agencies who do not understand digital.  

Stefan Casey, Nestlé 

In the afternoon, we heard from Global Design to Deliver Manager at Nestle, Stefan Casey about what it takes to be a global digital brand evangelist in the fast-paced world of FMCG. 

A key take-away from Stefan’s talk was that “Digital Print is about testing, trialling new things!” Something that we are passionate about at Springfield, especially with personalisation and the latest innovative tech.  

Digital Print for Packaging Europe

Stefan gave an interesting example of personalised packaging for an influencer activated campaign, the ‘KimKat’ – a personalised Kit Kat created for Kim Kardashian. This is an interesting and unique example of how by creating one personalised product (the Vegan Kit Kat) the brand achieved high visibility of their new product.  

This is a prime example of ‘packaging as a high-speed integrated media channel’, acting as a brand’s prime communication platform.  

Matt Dass – Springfield Solutions 

In the afternoon of Day 1, I held a talk on the future of artwork design for digital print, with a focus on how businesses can integrate automation and AI tools to streamline the packaging process.

Digital Print for Packaging Europe

This included a demonstration of Adobe Firefly, with interaction from the audience to create inspiration for packaging design based on keywords. At Springfield Solutions, we believe that AI has great use in the packaging industry. From creating inspiration for packaging designs, to assisting with artwork variations.

Cameron Worth – Sharp End  

Interactive packaging was definitely a strong topic at this year’s Digital Print for Packaging Europe. Cameron Worth, Founder and CEO of SharpEnd talked about transforming consumer experiences using digitally printed QR codes. 

Cameron gave multiple examples, including QR and NFC work for Global brands such as Coors, Clinique and Boots.  

Digital Print for Packaging Europe

Digital Print for Packaging Europe 2023 Day 2  

Gregory Bentley, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe 

Day 2 kicked off with a talk from EU Packaging Director at Suntory Beverage & Food Europe about the role of digital printing in reducing carbon footprint of packaging. 

This talk included some key points, firstly the point of ‘mass variability – not personalisation’.  

Digital Print for Packaging Europe

The famous ‘Share a Coke’ campaign used variable data of common names to create a ‘personal’ experience for consumers. In-fact, this isn’t a customised piece of packaging, it is simply variability. A more sustainable, yet still highly engaging, way of creating an exciting experience for the consumer which feels personalised.   

Some other key points from Gregory’s talk included: 

  • Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) – Should be happening in the UK! How can digital print facilitate this?
  • Direct-to-Print – needs to be as close to manufacturing as possible – Put the printing lines next to the bottling lines
  •  ‘Fall in love with the problem’ – Don’t focus on the solution

Juan Cano, Screen Europe 

Next up Juan Cano, Business Development Director-Flexible Packaging Division at Screen Europe discussed Sustainable inkjet digital printing solutions for paper packaging as a circular economy enabler. 

This included the growing trend of paper-based flexibles and circular packaging solutions to reduce environmental impact.  

Martin Cusack, Esko  

Esko’s talk discussed consistent colour on digital press, which starts with the brand’s colour specification. Colour is something incredibly important in packaging, and something we prioritise at Springfield as experts in colour management.  

This talk from Esko reinforced the importance of colour consistency and quality.  

To wrap up my overview of this great event, my top 3 learnings were:  

  • Variation not personalisation – Digital Print is perfect for this 
  • ‘Fall in love with the problem’ putting the customer first is imperative 
  • AI has a huge role to play in the future of our industry 

To find out more about our innovative digital packaging solutions, click here!  

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