Kiwi label printers produce best work yet

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Label standards at this year’s Pride In Print Awards are some of the best the industry has ever produced, according to judges, who spent two days assessing work submitted for gold medals, and category and process winners. 

Highest label standard ever: Judge Alex Straight
Highest label standard ever: Judge Alex Straight

Pride In Print is the prestigious annual awards event for the printing and graphic arts industries in New Zealand. The winners will be announced at a gala dinner on June 25 at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland.

While there were slightly fewer labels entered this year because of the constraints of last year’s business environment, the judges says the standard of entries that were received “has lifted the bar yet again”.

The winning label was described by judges as one of the best ever seen in the 28-year history of the Pride In Print Awards.

Judge Alex Straight said, “The quality this year is exceptional. People are entering more challenging work, where it is harder to achieve perfection. The labels we are seeing are more technical, and have a wider use of embellishments.”

He said flatbed embossing and foiling has done a full circle, and made a return on a much larger scale. These units are generally larger and can use cheaper tooling than rotary units. This can help with cost savings on small run embellished work.

The judges also received quite a few beer labels and honey labels into this year’s awards. Straight said, “There are more and more craft beer brewers around the country, which is the reason we’re getting more of these labels, and of course honey is going gang busters.”

Last year’s Supreme Award winner was the BeeNZ luxury honey gift box, entered by Logick Print & Graphics, and while it wasn’t just the label that won but the whole package, the label certainly contributed to that.

Also on the rise are boutique spirits distilleries, and label entries reflected that too.

This year, judges were also seeing more sculptured embosses on labels and a greater use of premium stocks, Straight said.
And many of this year’s entries were printed offset. Straight explains, “This is due to an increase in offset machinery in the NZ label market in the last couple of years. These machines can produce some of the highest quality labels on a wide array of coated or uncoated materials. All this comes with a reduced plate cost compared to flexo.”

The reasonably new floating foil embellishment was also showing up in entries. The technique produces a similar effect as an embossed foil, but saves on the tooling costs “and you get a nice, high gloss, raised foil effect without actually having to emboss and compromise the material".

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