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The SGIA Expo will retire after its 2018 event in Las Vegas, Nevada, in favour of a new exhibition called PRINT United, co-owned by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) and NAPCO, which, among other media brands, publishes Printing Impressions magazine in the United States. NAPCO has media brands in commercial, in-plant and package printing sectors.

SGIA Expo has traditionally focused on wide-format imaging, textile, and signage applications at its growing trade show, which recently wrapped up in New Orleans (October 10 to 12). More than 19,000 people attended the 2017 SGIA Expo, which featured nearly 600 exhibitors.

PRINT United is to be billed as a brand-new event that will launch in Dallas, Texas, October 23 to 25, 2019. Ford Bowers, currently CEO of SGIA, will serve as PRINT United’s CEO and Mark Subers of NAPCO Media will be its President.

“PRINT United is a strategic response to what the industry has been asking for,” said Bowers. “It's about the wealth of opportunities for printers and suppliers that result from the convergence of markets and technology.”

PRINT United, explains the organization, will focus on the opportunities presented by the convergence of printing technologies and markets. It will have a broader range of printing and finishing technologies and media on the expo floor, covering industry segments from garment to graphics, packaging to commercial, and industrial.
Just weeks after publishing a report on the future of offset printing to 2022, Smithers Pira releases a new report called The Future of Label Printing to 2022. The label printing market, according to the research organization, is set to expand at an average of 2.8 percent year on year to yield a total value of $39.5 billion in 2022. The Smithers Pira report shows the label printing market in 2017 is worth $34.5 billion globally.

This contrasts with an annual growth rate of just 1.2 percent in the wider print market, explains Smithers Pira, noting that traditional market margins are being eroded by electronic media: “Labels, like packaging are more resilient in the face of this threat, and there is still significant commercial potential especially in newer markets where population are still making the transition to buying more labelled products.”

With over 465 billion A4 sheet equivalents in 2017, according to Smithers Pira, Asia is today 46 percent of the worldwide label market by volume. Above average growth will push this to 48 percent by the end of the Smithers Pira study period. The only region with higher annual expansion across this period is the African market, but its share by 2022 will be less than four percent of global supply.

Smithers Pira notes there is still potential for new label business in mature markets, explaining both the U.S. and EU are set to implement new labelling obligations for pharmaceutical supply chains. For Europe, this is occurring via the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), which will be introduced in 2018. It will require each individual package to carry a prescribed unique identifier in a prescribed 2D data matrix format. Tamper evidence features, which are often integrated into label materials for packaging like folding cartons, will also be mandatory under this law.

Smithers Pira continues to explain narrow-web label printers have pioneered the use of digital (toner and inkjet systems) over the past decade, and this trend is far from exhausted with new high volume machines be launched every year.

The value share of digital printing is now 29.3 percent, up from 20.8 percent in 2012 – this will rise to 35.6 percent in 2022. In volume terms, Smithers Pira projects the shares are lower than 13.0 percent in 2017, and 17.9 percent in 2022 – reflecting digital’s concentration in shorter run, higher value applications.
The Digital Imaging Association last night in Toronto celebrated its 30th anniversary at Cirillo's Culinary Academy. Award-winning Chef John Cirillo divided the 50 attendees of the sold-out event into teams to prepare, cook and serve three Canadian courses, including: Bay of Fundy Salmon, Seafood and Tomato, Corn Veloute (Atlantic Canada); Smoked Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin (Alberta) with Whisky Jus, Barley and Cranberry Risotto, Glazed Golden Beets and Fine Beans; and Maple infused Apple Rose in Puffy Pastry with Blueberry Compote (Ontario and Quebec).
The Government of Canada has awarded nearly $850,000 in financial assistance to two printing-industry businesses in the region of Montérégie, Quebec, to help improve productivity and commercialize new products. The funding, announced by Michel Picard, Member of Parliament for Montarville, will help create around 12 new jobs for the region.

The funding – in the form of repayable contributions – has been granted through Canada Economic Development’s Quebec Economic Development Program (QEDP), within the larger framework of the Government of Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan. “Imprimerie Ste-Julie and MIIP, both of which are involved in the printing and labelling industries, have developed expertise by building on innovation,” said Picard. “In making sure that their teams have access to the latest technologies to do their work, these two businesses can continue to grow and conquer new markets.”

Imprimerie Ste-Julie, a family business founded 42 years ago, received $750,000 in funding for the acquisition of a flexographic press to increase its production capacity and productivity. This investment will also help the company reduce paper wastage through increased efficiency. The press has eight colour stations with the ability to add varnish and gilding through a cold-stamping process.

“Imprimerie Ste-Julie has been a trailblazer in adhesive label and shrink sleeve printing for many years in Quebec. This major investment will help us maintain our enviable position as leader, while we continue to provide our clients with the best in the business,” said Marilène Fournier, Vice-President, Production, Imprimerie Ste-Julie. “Our production capacity is also much greater because the new press can print up to 750 feet of paper per minute when working full tilt. This was an indispensable purchase, given the increasing demand over the past few years for packaging printing.”

MIIP has been granted $94,700 in financial assistance to commercialize its products in the United States and Europe, notably its flagship product, the miipCam, a camera inspection system for the printing and labelling industries. This product was developed in collaboration with Quebec businesses, including Imprimerie Ste-Julie, and is helping users reduce the consumption of paper and other substrates and enhance the efficiency and print quality of their presses.

“Thanks to CED's assistance, MIIP can continue to grow by exporting its products to the United States,” said Alex Gal, Co-founder and Vice-President, MIIP.
Profiling and ranking the environmental performance of North American printers

The 2017 edition of Canopy’s Blueline Ranking was released in July, and while this year’s results are consistent with the trends of the past two years, they also show some interesting and surprising new results.

The Blueline Ranking is a widely used customer tool profiling and ranking the sustainability performance of North America’s largest printers. Printers analyzed in this year’s assessment represent $34 billion in annual sales.

The top three ranking printers this year are, in order, EarthColor, The Printing House, and brand new to the Top 10, Taylor Communications. Taylor also wins the title of the fastest rising printer of 2017, moving up 15 spots from 18th place last year. It achieved this major jump through strong sourcing policy updates, and solid work on implementation.

Overall, Canadian printers are leading their peers to the south in sustainable print practices, with six of the Top 10 printers being Canadian-owned. This is in part a response to customer demand within Canada, but also very likely due to Canopy’s long relationships with the Canadian print and publishing sectors.  The Printing House, TC Transcontinental, Hemlock Printers, MET Fine Printers, The Lowe-Martin Group and Webcom, all made the Top 10. The Blueline Ranking rates major printers on a set of 32 key sustainability criteria and highlights sector leaders to consumer brands.

Printers that top the ranking are outperforming their peers in areas such as:
• Having a industry-leading eco-paper policy;
• Reducing their use of papers that contain ancient and endangered forest fiber;
• Supporting the advancement of forest conservation solutions in places such as Canada’s Boreal forest, North America’s temperate rainforests, the Amazon, and Indonesia’s rainforests;
• Actively supporting development of new environmental papers such as those made with high recycled content or agricultural fibres such as wheat straw; and
• Transparently reporting their sustainability initiatives progress and implementation.  

Printers increasingly understand that to help their customers meet their own sustainability goals (and gain or maintain their business), they have to align with the ambitious environmental goals that brands themselves are setting, as well as provide brands with as much information as possible on their own environmental policies and sourcing efforts.

As a result, we have seen two significant shifts in this year’s Blueline Ranking:
1. There is a definitive move by printers towards adopting more rigorous sustainability policies (as noted with Taylor Communications already, but not isolated to them); and
2. Printers are communicating more transparently on their sustainability practices.

In fact, in three short years, the Blueline Ranking has become a mini phenomenon among environmentally engaged printers, who work hard to meet their sustainable sourcing goals, achieve transparency in their supply chains, and effectively communicate their efforts on these fronts. It’s also become a go-to tool for many North American print customers. Scholastic’s Senior Director of Paper Procurement, Lisa Serra, notes, “As a publisher and distributor of children’s books, Scholastic is committed to the pursuit of environmentally friendly practices and to leading by example. We’re pleased to recommend Canopy’s Blueline Ranking as an invaluable tool for any print customer who shares our goals and wants to reduce their impact on the world’s ancient and endangered forests.”

Active support for forest conservation is another exciting trend in the 2017 ranking. Forty-one percent of Blueline printers now have policies that explicitly state support for ancient and endangered forest conservation and a number of printers actively engaged this year to help advance conservation in a number of key forest landscapes globally. In just under two years, six of North America’s largest printers have developed new policies that include forest conservation language, a trend that we anticipate will grow.

It is well documented that the carbon footprint of printing mainly comes from paper sourcing. Studies have shown that 48 to 79 percent of the carbon footprint of books, magazines and catalogues comes from the manufacturing of paper and only four to 17 percent of the carbon footprint of a major printed product is attributed to the printing process itself.

It is this footprint of most conventional papers that necessitates the need for the development of lower carbon paper and packaging options such as papers made with high-recycled content or straw fibre. Printers have an important role to play in encouraging paper mills to develop these next generation papers as well as support their commercialization by stocking them as house papers.

Print customers have their own CSR goals to achieve, and strong policies and transparency among North America’s largest printers helps them more achieve them more easily.
Digital printing processes, according to a new report by Smithers Pira, will see the fastest growth through the years of 2017 to 2022, stating this will leave the previously dominant offset litho process declining in terms of value.

In 2017, Smithers explains digital printing accounts for 16.2 percent of the global print market value, which equates to $785.1 billion and 2.9 percent of the total print volume. This is up from 2.1 percent of the print volume in 2012 and Smithers explains this transition is accelerating to 3.9 percent of volume by 2022 when new high-performance equipment will be in operation in most applications.

Smithers continues to explain the value of litho will drop from 48.1 percent of all print and printed packaging in 2012 down to 39.5 percent in 2022. Only flexography shows a rise in share among analogue printing processes through the new report.

Litho still dominates in terms of the number of prints and pages, explains Smithers, and by 2022 it will still account for over 70 percent of world print output, but much of it relates to what the research organization describes as relatively low-value newspaper, magazine and book printing.

Even as digital print remains a very small proportion of the volume, growing from 2.1 percent in 2012 to a projected 4.3 percent by 2022, its value is much greater, with Smithers expecting 20 of global print value to be accounted for by inkjet and electrophotography by 2022.

The penetration of digital into the mix of print applications varies considerably. In advertising, direct mail was built on personalized printing using digital systems, while the short run sign and display segments were early adopters of inkjet technologies.

Smithers explains, that in addition to direct mail and signage, inkjet has penetrated deeply into label printing on narrow-web platforms and is now moving to larger formats and other substrates like corrugated board.

Packaging is the growth engine for global print with volumes and values forecast to grow based on the new report, citing this environment is reflected in the number of press launches and concepts at trade shows by both from digital press developers and analogue equipment suppliers.

The strongest growth area for analogue printing is in flexography, according to Smithers, which is being driven by the growing packaging and labels applications. This print process is forecast to grow by 2.5 percent CAGR through to 2022 to reach a global market value of $186 billion.

Digital print is forecast to reach a global market value of $169 billion by 2022 growing on average by 5.9 percent CAGR. Digital print for packaging will be the key market opportunity for digital print as Smithers estimates it will grow by 22 percent CAGR through to 2022 to reach a global market value of around $8.4 billion.
ICON Digital Productions Inc. of Markham, Ont., has acquired controlling interest in Asterisk Media, a Toronto-based creative studio. Asterisk Media will now operate as a division of ICON Digital and will be rebranded as ICON Motion Inc.  They will continue to operate from their current Liberty Village location.

Asterisk specializes in creating video content for multiple platforms. “We started this company after seeing the impact of how digital enabled viewers to have two-way conversations with brands,” said PJ Lee, Founder and President of Asterisk Media, who will serve as President of the newly created ICON Motion division. “We decided to build a company that was nimble and able to produce high-quality, high-frequency content that matched our partners’ content strategies.”

ICON explains the deal will enable it to offer Asterisk’s suite of services such as commercial production and post-production, as well as 360/VR and livestream. “This is an excellent fit with our overall growth strategy to be a multi-faceted visual communications company and is consistent with our company mandate to be ‘All Things Visual’” said Juan Lau, CEO and President of ICON Digital.
 
This is ICON’s second acquisition of 2017, following its February purchase of Toronto Trade Printers (TTP). The ICON group of companies reached $32 million in sales last year prior to the TTP and Asterisk acquisitions. With offices in Toronto, Markham, Montreal and New York City, ICON Digital now operates four divisions with high-end production capabilities for display graphics, digital signage, commercial printing and video production.
Electronics For Imaging Inc. has purchased Escada Systems based in the United Kingdom and with operations in the United States, which develops Corrugator Control systems for the packaging market

EFI has a growing interest in corrugated production, primarily based on its drupa 2016 introduction of the Nozomi C18000 high-speed single-pass LED inkjet press. The company has also developed versions its Fiery DFE, inks, and the EFI Corrugated Packaging Productivity Suite aimed at the sector.

The addition of Escada's technology, providing control and traceability for the corrugation production process, will enable EFI to expand the Productivity Suite’s value to sheet feeders and corrugated box plants. “The addition of Escada makes EFI a one stop shop for enabling packaging companies to improve the quality, efficiency and profitability of the corrugation process, using their existing corrugators,” said Gabriel Matsliach, Senior VP and GM, EFI Productivity Software.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but EFI explains it is not expected to be material to EFI’ss Q4 or full year 2017 results. Escada employees, including founder and former principal Gavin Bushby, have joined EFI's Productivity Software business unit.
AlphaGraphics Inc., a global franchisor of design, printing, marketing and communications businesses, has been purchased by fellow franchisor Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) Worldwide. Following the acquisition, MBE will hold a network of approximately 2,600 locations in 39 countries, including nearly 500 locations in the U.S.

In addition to its own printing operation interests, MBE specializes in third-party logistics, concentrating on shipping, micro and related retail-logistics services. MBE also acquired the U.S.-based PostNet franchise system in April 2017.

AlphaGraphics will continue to operate as an independent company and will retain its current management team, with headquarters remaining in Salt Lake City. “This is an exciting development for the AlphaGraphics franchise system,” said Gay Burke, AlphaGraphics Executive Chair. “Combining forces with MBE Worldwide creates unique opportunities to synergize with colleagues similarly steeped in managing a franchise-based network of entrepreneurs.”
At the upcoming 12th annual Canadian Printing Awards gala, taking place on November 9, 2017, at the Palais Royale in Toronto, PrintAction magazine will honour four individuals who have had a significant impact on the Canadian printing industry. The gala is expected to attract more than 200 industry leaders from across country.

The Canadian Printing Awards program is designed to recognize printing innovation in the country through three distinct awards sections, grouped in Printing, Environmental and Technology categories. In 2008, PrintAction introduced an Industry Achievement component to the program to honour outstanding leadership as demonstrated by members of the Canadian printing community.

The 2017 Industry Achievement Award recipients, determined by PrintAction magazine, include:

John A. Young Lifetime Achievement Award
Bob Cockerill (retired in 2015)
Senior Vice President, SGK Inc.
President & Chief Operating Office, Schawk Canada Inc.
Chairman, PAC - Packaging Consortium
Board Member, IDEAlliance (2010 – 2013)
Board of Governors, Ryerson University (2008 – 2011)

Printing Leader of the Year
Sean Murray
President and CEO, Advocate Group of Companies, Pictou, Nova Scotia
Advocate Printing and Publishing Limited, Advocate Media Inc.

Emerging Leader of the Year
James Rowley
General Manager, Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging, Vancouver, British Columbia

Community Leader of the Year
John Hueston
President, Aylmer Express Graphics Group, Aylmer, Ontario

For more information about the 2017 awards program and gala, please visit Canadianprintingawards.com

Kodak will increase the price of all Kodak offset printing plates globally by up to nine percent. Over the past 12 months, Kodak explains it has been absorbing significant increases in costs for raw materials that are used to produce its offset plates, including: aluminum; chemicals; and packaging materials. The company states the magnitude of the materials cost impact has made it necessary to increase plate prices.

“The printing plates market is both technology-intensive and cost-competitive,” said Brad Kruchten, President, Print Systems Division, Kodak. “As a result, there is no room for us to continue to absorb these escalating raw materials costs without raising our own prices.

“Our approach to implementation will affect our newest and most technically-advanced products the least, while our more mature offerings, which are less efficient and less advanced, will see higher price increases,” he added. “This, in turn, will help drive long-term viability, profitability and sustainability for our printers and our industry partners.”

Plate price increases were previously announced for China in January 2017.
The C.J. Group of Companies has merged with Annan & Sons, both of which are based in Toronto, Ontario. Both Paul and John Annan, along with several of their staff members, are scheduled to join C.J. Graphics in that company’s new Mississauga location at the end of October 2017.

C.J. Group explains Paul and John Annan will be overseeing the management of their division, including production and sales of their current clients. Going forward, John, who served as President of Annan & Sons, will also have a position on C.J.’s management team.

“As we started planning to relocate our production, we recognized C.J. Graphics as a great fit for our customers,” said John Annan. “C.J. Graphics is well known for great quality and service. This merger will allow us to continue to offer these high standards to our customers. C.J. Graphics is also very innovative in new technologies which will give us more products to offer to our clients.”
FASTSIGNS International, operating under a franchising business model, has opened two new centres in Canada in the first half of 2017 and signed four franchise agreements to develop additional new locations in Calgary, Winnipeg, and Oshawa in the coming months.

The company expects to sell a projected six to eight locations in Canada in 2017. Currently, there are 36 locations throughout the country.

“Canada has been and will continue to be a huge growth market for FASTSIGNS, so we're excited about our expansion so far this year,” said Mark Jameson, EVP of Franchise Support and Development, FASTSIGNS International. “There are ample opportunities to strengthen our presence through franchise development in key markets such as continued expansion in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta provinces and planned aggressive growth in Quebec.”

Jameson continued to explain the company is seeking a single unit and a Master or Area Developer for Quebec franchisees to help us grow its footprint across Canada.

FASTSIGNS International was ranked number 1 in the Business Services/Signs category for 2017 and 95 overall in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 ranking.
Kruger Inc. announced a $377.6 million transaction to diversify operations at four Quebec operations, including mills in Brompton and Wayagamack that will focus on specialty niches, such as flexible food packaging, labelling and digital printing.

This project, undertaken in partnership with the Government of Québec, will help to maintain more than 500 jobs in the Mauricie and Estrie regions. The announcement was made in mid-September in the presence of Philippe Couillard, Premier of Québec; Dominique Anglade, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation and Minister responsible for the Digital Strategy; and Joseph Kruger II, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kruger, as well as Ministers Luc Blanchette, Julie Boulet, and Luc Fortin.

Kruger and the Government of Québec have formed a partnership by which Investissement Québec, acting as the government's agent, will grant loans and a loan guarantee totalling $59.8 million and acquire an equity participation of 37.5 percent, or $44.6 million, in the new entity Kruger Specialty Papers Holding L.P. The new entity comprises the assets of the Brompton and Wayagamack Mills, as well as the Biomass Cogeneration Plant adjacent to the Brompton Mill.

To carry out this diversification project, Kruger Specialty Papers Holding L.P. will invest $107.5 million over the next three years to enable the Brompton and Wayagamack Mills to gradually reduce the production of some publication paper products that are in decline, such as newsprint and magazine paper, while accessing new markets that are on the rise around the world. Investments will be distributed as follows:

    Wayagamack Mill: $32.9 million;
    Brompton Mill: $47.5 million;
    Trois-Rivières Mill: $22.3 million; and
    Biomass Cogeneration Plant (Brompton): $4.8 million.

The project’s other benefits, explains Kruger, include an additional 100,000 metric tonnes of wood chips procured annually, which will have a material impact on Québec's sawmill sector.

The Mills' diversification strategy is based on the complementarity of the Company's various operations, which is why the project calls for investments in the Biomass Cogeneration Plant next to the Brompton Mill and in the Thermo-mechanical Pulp Mill at the Trois-Rivières Mill, which will supply the Brompton and Wayagamack Mills with raw material.

The amounts invested will be used to acquire new production equipment, modify existing equipment, make technical improvements to boost productivity, and for various energy efficiency measures.

The new Kruger Specialty Papers entity will supply products that are in high demand due to changing market trends around the world, specifically increased demand for sustainable packaging and the growing popularity of e-commerce. New specialty products include food packaging paper, labelling products (backing paper) and coated paper for digital inkjet web presses to print mass-circulation catalogues and flyers that can be customized for targeted mailings.

By the end of the project, the Brompton Mill will focus exclusively on specialty products and therefore will no longer manufacture 200,000 metric tonnes of newsprint annually.

The specialty papers developed by Kruger will offer several competitive advantages, including the use of cellulose filaments (CF). This new-generation biomaterial is Kruger's proprietary strengthening additive that is manufactured at the world's first CF plant built by Kruger in Trois-Rivières in 2014. Tests conducted by the company have shown that adding CF helps to make products stronger, lighter and more sustainable.
Bassett Direct has moved to the Toronto Print Campus of St. Joseph Communications’ Print Group located in Concord, Ontario. St. Joseph in late-2016 acquired Bassett Direct, which has long served as one of Canada’s most advanced providers of direct marketing services and variable printing programs.

The Bassett team, along with its fleet of digital-printing equipment, has been relocated to the 150,000-square-foot Print Campus facility. The company explains the move will allow St. Joseph Communications’ Print Group and Bassett Direct’s customers to take advantage of a range of new and expanded capabilities, including advanced direct mail and print-related services all under one roof.

St. Joseph continued to explain acquisition of Bassett fits its vision to become the supplier of choice for brands and retailers requiring multi-channel content and graphic solutions.

“St. Joseph’s acquisition of Bassett Direct provides a major growth opportunity for both our businesses and extended services for our clients,” said Rich Bassett, Vice-President, Direct Mail. “With the stability and backing of one of the Canada’s leading commercial communications companies, Bassett Direct’s customers will benefit from improved products, services and innovation and likewise the services we bring to St. Joseph will enable us to deliver one of the broadest and most unique skill-sets of any printer in Canada.”

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