The BIG Show, Part 1 - Reflection, Anticipation & Planning

CHICAGO , May 8, 2014 () – By the time you read this I will be on my way to attend Interpack 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Every three years the international packaging community assembles to show and view materials, packages and packaging machinery (and machinery for bakery and confectionary).

For many of the 2700+ exhibitors, Interpack is a time for announcements of new technologies, solutions and offerings. For the 160,000+ attendees, it is the opportunity to see, under 19 or so roofs depending on how you count, the widest array of approaches of any packaging oriented show, bar none.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting the Messe Düsseldorf, the site of the trade fair, to see many Interpack’s, as well as a smaller number of the printing show Drupa and the plastics K Show, first visiting in the early 1980’s, when it was a trip to West Germany.

There have been a lot of changes, with more buildings, more exhibitors in total and proportionately from outside Germany, many more visitors, and the emergence and maturation of significant themes. From the presentation I attended of the Green recycling regulation by Klaus Töpfer, Environmental Minister of Germany at Interpack in the early 1990’s, package sustainability and environmental impact have continued to play a larger and larger part in the thinking and actions of the packaging industry.

The last several Interpack shows have included a display tent in the center of the fairground on the topic of food waste, highlighting the role that packaging can play in getting more of the food grown or produced into the stomachs of hungry people around the globe. The recognition of the importance of this crucial initiative continues to grow, and Interpack is a great venue to highlight it.

Globalization has evolved over the years, with steady growth in the number of companies exhibiting and visiting from outside Europe and North America. My look at the online catalog for this show indicates that visitors will see the greatest number ever of exhibitors from Turkey through the Middle East, Southern and Eastern Asia, to Japan.

Automation, use of digital technology, and exploding material options also have been signal trends of Interpack.

So, how to prepare for 7 straight days of packaging exhibition? First, good walking shoes, and a commitment to pace oneself. Second, a good look at the catalog to identify the obvious areas of interest. Third, patience and endurance to look closely, digging into the back of stands, and to the smallest stands in the least trafficked locations.

There will be gems to be seen in the big stands of the heavyweights of the industry, but also in the stands of those with emerging innovations and ideas that could change things dramatically. One of my watchwords is especially important at Interpack, “prepare yourself to be pleasantly surprised in the least expected places”.

I’ll have specifics to highlight next month after I’ve walked the aisles, met old and new colleagues, and marveled once again at the diversity and vitality of the global packaging industry. If you are going, good hunting; if not, keep your ears open to the thoughts of those who are.

Timothy Bohrer is the owner of Pac Advantage Consulting

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