Regarded as one of the greatest point guards of all-time, former NBA basketball player Earvin "Magic" Johnson went on to become a successful businessman after his final retirement from the L.A. Lakers in 1996. Johnson, who today runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a conglomerate company with an estimated net worth of $700 million, is quoted for having said: “Research your idea. See if there's a demand. A lot of people have great ideas, but they don't know if there's a need for it. You also have to research your competition.”

In the world of packaging materials, experts note that there is a definite need, and continual demand for shrink and stretch labels from the food and beverage industry. 

According to a November 2021 Markets And Markets Research report, the global stretch sleeve and shrink sleeve labels market size is projected to grow from $14.4 billion in 2021 to $18.9 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6%.

In its “Stretch Sleeve & Shrink Sleeve Labels Market” report, the Maharashtra, India-based research firm notes that such growth can be attributed to increasing populations and developing economies, as well as an increasing awareness of, and demand for, tamper-evident labels.

“These are the key factors driving the demand for stretch sleeve and shrink sleeve labels during the forecast period,” the report states. “The tamper-evident quality is the most vital aspect of shrink sleeve labels. The tamper-evident shrink sleeve labels are used as safety seals printed with messages such as, ‘if the safety seal is broken, do not use,’ ‘only for adult,’ or ‘discard the product.’

“The evident products are widely used in the pharmaceutical and food and beverage verticals, as the end product is highly sensitive,” it continues. “This prevents malpractices such as adulteration or reusing containers that are to be discarded.” 

Axon, product brand of Covington, Ky.-based ProMach, a manufacturer of shrink sleeve, stretch sleeve and tamper-evident band labeling systems, recently showcased two of its new solutions at Pack Expo International 2022 in Chicago.

“We’re excited to debut two new products at Pack Expo, our new tamper-evident band applicator, HydroTech, and a new steam tunnel, HE-500,” said Bob Williams, general manager at Axon, in a statement. “We’ve seen shrink applications become increasingly more complex over the years and the key to success comes down to how simple and easy it is to keep the system running. Both products were developed with the operator in mind, meeting our customers’ requirements for machine accessibility, productivity improvements and line efficiency.”

Axon’s new tamper-evident band applicator, HydroTech, features a patented film-delivery system that reduces rework caused by missed bands, the company says. Its ergonomic design allows operators to splice film while in operation and offers access to the film reel on the operator side, enabling efficient and fast changeovers with minimal downtime, it adds.

In addition to HydroTech, Axon’s new steam shrink tunnel, HE-500, features a patented design that allows for high production capacity with reduced steam usage, making the HE-500 tunnel a very efficient solution for full body shrink applications, including nutraceutical and can sleeving, it adds.


The Axon EZ-100HSX tamper evident band applicator
The Axon EZ-100HSX tamper evident band applicator delivers application speeds as fast as 400 containers a minute, the company says.
Image courtesy of Axon


The right choices

As the shrink and stretch market is segmented based on the type of sleeves utilized, experts highlight the benefits that such label solutions can offer various beverage segments.

Ed Farley, product line manager at Raleigh, N.C.-based Axon, points to the 360 degree capabilities of these label solutions, particularly as more brands move toward aluminum cans.

“Beverage-makers can stock and utilize bright cans versus printed cans and decorate with a shrink sleeve. This drastically minimizes space needed to stock printed cans,” Farley explains. “This also allows them to avoid the large minimums required for pre-printed cans.”

Moreover, beyond “quick changeovers, redundant systems to minimize downtime, higher speeds,” these labeling solutions can get “products to market quicker versus pre-printed cans,” Farley says.

In the beverage industry, where brand messaging is of major importance, Norwalk, Conn.-based PDC Corp., in its blog “Shrink Sleeving Tips For Package Designers,” stresses the importance of choosing the appropriate container, shape and materials when considering shrink labeling.


With more beverage categories – coffee, energy drinks, wine, craft beer — utilizing aluminum cans, Axon’s Farley notes that shrink and stretch solutions allow for less waste/scrap than other labeling solutions.
Image courtesy of Schlafly Beer


“The shape and material of your container is very important,” it states. “If you want a full body sleeve, choosing a container with a radius on the bottom for the film to ‘lock down to’ is ideal. A container with a straight walled bottom prevents the shrink film from conforming to a radius so the film will be inclined to pull up from the bottom of the container.”

Further, various tolerances, such as the tolerance of the container, need to be taken into consideration, it notes.

“For example, glass can vary in size more than most plastics. The tolerance of the sleeve when seamed during converting as well as the print to fold tolerance on the graphics, which impacts orientation of the sleeve to non-round bottles. Create a design that will help to hide any inconsistencies in tolerances,” PDC’s blog states. “For instance, don’t pick a black bottle and white film, any pull up on the bottom will be obvious.” 

Moreover, as shrink sleeving film has unique characteristics, as well as certain advantages and disadvantages, understanding a little about the four types of shrink sleeve films — PVC, PET/PETG, OPS and PLA — will help with the end product, the blog notes.

“Some films are well suited for packaging that will have tamper evident bands, such as PVC. Others, such as OPS, and PETG-LV work well with full sleeve applications that have little or no radius at the bottom,” PDC’s blog states. “Knowing the characteristics of the various films will allow you to make the right film choice for your product and budget, with no worries or surprises.”