A brief review on the recent FINAT European Label Forum (ELF)

The FINAT European Label Forum (ELF) took place from 16-18 June 2016 in Amsterdam
The FINAT European Label Forum (ELF) took place from 16-18 June 2016 in Amsterdam

“Run toward the noise”.

THE NETHERLANDS • The European association for the self-adhesive label industry, adjacent narrow-web product decoration and identification technologies staged its second European Label Forum (ELF) at the Moevenpick Hotel in Amsterdam from 16-18 June. The program was designed to address current and potential challenges and opportunities in the label industry with expert speakers and highly interactive sessions as well as plenty of networking opportunities. As somebody put it during the event, the FINAT wants to make an audible noise for the benefit of the industry.


The event started with the regular FINAT general assembly 2016. This was followed by the opening of the supplier table-top exhibition, which also included G&K TechMedia, and accompanying welcome cocktails. This exhibition featured throughout the entire programme during the breaks of the conference sessions.

The unchallenged highlight of this day was the FINAT awards 2016 celebrations. Moderated by Tony White and supported by Thomas Hagmaier, the winners of the 36th edition of the association’s annual label competition were presented. It also featured the announcement of the 3rd edition of the FINAT recycling awards and the release of the FINAT yearbook 2016.

The keynote sessions

On the second day FINAT president Thomas Hagmaier welcomed the attendees of the ELF with an opening speech. The keynote sessions kicked off with a presentation by Swedish futurologist Magnus Lindkvist who talked about the disruptive trends that will change the label and package printing market over the next ten years. During the course of his entertaining and inspiring remarks, he encouraged the audience to overcome business and also personal traditions in order to break new grounds how to deal with current and future challenges.

During his usual session “Trends and developments in the label printing industry” FINAT’s managing director Jules Lejeune provided a detailed FINAT RADAR and labelstock market report. Although not the most entertaining part of the event, it is nevertheless inevitable due to its character as a source of relevant and necessary knowledge.

The ELF 2016 buzzmaster debate on business matters was a true highlight, as it made use of interactive Wi-Fi communication technology through a downloaded special ELF app. This allowed attendees to interact with the program in real time using their smartphones. Rens de Jong, Business News Radio talk show host and moderator of the year in The Netherlands, conducted snippets of interviews with the attendees who had the opportunity to immediately react to the questions with their answers being displayed on the big screen. This approach was highly appreciated by the attendees, as it put new life in the old skin of the Q-and-A game.

The learning sessions

The key learning sessions zoomed in on two essential conditions of success for a profitable business: “Value creation and collaborative innovation”. “Both topics are two sides of the same coin,” explained Jules Lejeune. “On the one hand, label printers are servicing mature, competitive markets and are facing the challenge to differentiate their existing product and solutions and avoid commoditization. On the other, the European Label Forum 2015 taught us that end-users are more and more open to work with their strategic labels and packaging suppliers on the joint development of new solutions.”

To accommodate both aspects of healthy business development, the ELF 2016 programme offered interactive parallel workshops on the respective topics, hosted by Phil Allen (CVM€) and Gordon Crichton (Institut MAI), that enabled participants to gain new insights, tools, tips and skills that will help them and their business to enhance profitability.

An evening on the boat

At the evening of the second day, the attendees of FINAT ELF 2016 were invited to spend a pleasant evening on board the event river cruise ship Ocen Diva. With cocktails, dinner and entertainment this was another perfect opportunity for networking and chatting in relaxed ambient conditions. The undoubted highlight of this evening was the performance of a Blue Brothers cover band, whose songs made people dance and enjoy themselves. It was indeed very touching to watch generations shaking their legs to the hot rhythms of the band. More convincing prove – if necessary at all – of the relaxed mood in the label printing industry in general and the FINAT events in particular.

Learning session in the true sense of the word

As a reminder of the importance of knowledge transfer and education of the next generation, attendees were challenged to test their own competence and knowledge in the “Label Masters” challenge, moderated by Mike Fairley and Niklas Olsson, global brand manager Flint Group. This “offspring” of the Label Academy consortium had delegates competing with each other over their knowledge about labelling technology. This item of the ELF 2016 agenda was highly appreciated by the participating delegates due to the learning effect and the entertainment value.

A personal drupa review

Herbert Knott, former employee of German die-cutting tools supplier Electro Optic and now freelance correspondent for VsKE, the German association of label manufacturers, provided a personal and very appealing review on the recent drupa 2016. Being commissioned by FINAT he scanned the latest trends and developments related to the label industry.

A race driver to conclude the event

To conclude this year’s event, former Formula One racing executive Mark Gallagher presented an “outside in” perspective of a winning and innovative future for the label industry. During his active racing time he worked directly with the world’s top drivers and team owners including Senna, Mansell, Schumacher and Coulthard, giving him a privileged understanding of what it takes to be a world-class competitor.

Some figures

The FINAT ELF 2016 has been attended in total by 182 individuals representing 111 companies. This comprised the following categories:

  • Label Printers
    • Individuals: 54
    • Companies: 40
  • Suppliers
    • Individuals: 128
    • Companies: 68
  • Non-members
    • Companies: 3
  • Total
    • Individuals: 182
    • Companies: 111

A true and relaxed platform for progress

The general aim of the ELF events is to offer a key source of relevant knowledge.

for owners, CEOs, sales and marketing managers, future leaders, vendor partners, knowledge providers and media editors to learn about and discuss the business challenges of today and tomorrow, be inspired by success stories, learn from experts in different areas of expertise, share views and opinions, and enter into dialogues that will shape the future, gain experience through exercise and engagement, and network with international colleagues.

The 2016 event proved fully compliant with this self-set standard. This not only relates to the quality of the presentations and learning sessions but also to the organisation of the event and the overall mood, which again tagged the label industry as an informal, open-minded and almost familiar one where everybody enjoys meeting again with each other. Particularly the two new elements of interactive Wi-Fi communication during the buzzmaster sessions and the “Label Masters” challenge met with extremely positive response and should be continued at the next issue of the European Label Forum, which will take place in Berlin 15-17 June 2017.

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