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2,700 exhibitors and 175,000 visitors from 120 nations occupied the 19 halls of the sold-out Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre for the world’s most important trade fair for the packaging sector and its associated process industries. Boasting a 66% share of foreign visitors, interpack 2014 not only set a new record for itself but also a top rating across all Messe Düsseldorf events.

The dominating themes at interpack 2014 were resource efficiency for plant and machinery, and for packaging material usage, quality and safety to guarantee perfect and counterfeit-proof finished products – especially in such touchy segments as Food/Beverage and
Pharmaceuticals – as well as diversity and flexibility for an ever wider range and shorter product cycles. These themes were addressed by a particularly high number of innovations in the halls.

However, interpack underscores its importance not only with the sheer multitude of innovations and breadth of its exhibitor ranges but also with especially innovative themes.

As Bernd Jablonowski, director of interpack & Save Food, said: "For a leading international trade fair it is not enough just to rent out exhibition space and offer perfect organisation. Trend themes must be identified, anchored in the concept and driven in a consistent manner. This is the only way to secure thematic leadership in an industry. We have succeeded in doing this very well once again this year. The concepts of both Innovationparc Packaging and the Metal Packaging Plaza were right on target with the target groups."

Unfortunately it was not possible for me to visit every single exhibitor, nor to take part in every conference session; though I would have loved this opportunity. But if the point of a show is to make new contacts, to learn about new developments and to see new products, machines and technologies, then interpack scores well across the board. And this is what I am going to concentrate on when I look back over my attendance.

Where to start?
It will be difficult to provide individual success stories from the attendees, as the information is dependent on release from the companies, and this would lead to potentially arbitrary decisions on who was able to be named in the review. As such it seems more helpful for the reader to provide a little more of a personal view point. I will not be subjecting you to my opinions where possible, as I would like to keep this focused on interpack and a review of what happened with attendance.

Save Food
The second Save Food Congress proved a particularly attention-grabbing theme at this year’s show. The initiative of the same
name combats food losses and waste, and involves such partners as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) as well as over 110 members from the industry.

The Save Food Congress opened the day before the trade fair. On the first of its two themed days it addressed non-profitorganisations, which shed some light on the problems from political and social angles. The second half of the event dealt with solutions and Best Practice presented by enterprises. Even more impressively than at the kick-off event three years ago, this congress showed how the problem of global food losses and waste can be fought across the entire value chain.

Metal Packaging Forum
Empac, European Metal Packaging, the association representing European producers of rigid metal packaging and their supply chain partners, had gathered a high-profile group of international speakers to address attendees at interpack,

In the twice-daily Empac ‘Metal Moments’ sessions, the speakers shared their expertise and views on the role of metal packaging in today’s world, and reflected on the importance of recycling to create a resource efficient society leading to a working circular economy.

The industry comprises more than 200 companies and 70,000 employees producing in excess of 100 billion units a year. In 2010, steel packaging reached a record 71% recycling rate in Europe, with a growing number of countries achieving in excess of 80%.

Below are some of the reviews and thoughts of those I spoke with while at the show.

Andreas Wegeleben, director global marketing & communication, Bizerba: "Our exhibit serves as the voice with which we speak to international contacts, and we picked up top quality new customers at the trade fair. We consider interpack the sector’s leading trade fair and look forward to tallying up our numbers, which shouldbe even better than in 2011."

Christian Traumann, managing director, Multivac: "We’ve had the privilege of getting to know fantastic new customers this year: Our visitor total increased by 10% over 2011, which naturally made us very happy!"

Paolo Pusceddu, director global account market development, Coesia Group: "Interpack is the best platform to be recognised by the market. We want customers to know us, and interpack offers the perfect way to show the complete possibilities that we have. This year, we reached all our goals and are very satisfied with our performance."

Cora Helberg, marketing and innovation manager pharma, Constantia Flexibles International: "This is our second appearance at interpack, this time with a much larger exhibition area. We’re very satisfied with our results. The fair fulfilled all our hopes."

Marc van den Biggelaar, marketing director, Dow: "This was our first year exhibiting at interpack, and we were excited about the opportunity to demonstrate how different materials match up with certain packaging properties. Being here has definitely been worth it, as we’ve already had a chance to discuss new ideas with many of our customers. I can very well imagine
returning in 2017."

Torsten Giese, marketing manager – PR & exhibitions, Ishida: "We’ve made some important investment decisions in 2014 – featuring our largest exhibition area to date – and we’ve met a fantastic audience. The best advertisement for the trade fair is that the sectors filling the various halls are so well balanced. The feedback we’ve been getting in talks with high-calibre customer has been very positive throughout."

Dr Andreas Blaschke, board member, Mayr-Melnhof Karton: "For us, interpack is the largest trade fair event worldwide, absolutely overwhelming! It’s very international, and we establish lots of new contacts here."

Albert Klinkhammer, marketing & communication director Europe & international, Mondi: "Interpack is the perfect platform, because it’s such a great place for establishing contacts with customers and the press – quickly and on a personal level. The trade fair definitely lives up to its reputation as an important venue for being in touch with customers."

Kerstin Dietze, marketing manager, Sappi: "We were looking to interpack to provide us with a platform for our innovative double-capacity speciality paper machine. The trade fair with its professional and international audience presents the ideal environment for that. We were able to generate a number of great orders thanks to interested visitors."

Markus Rustler, managing partner, Theegarten-Pactec: "Our company’s been involved since the first edition of the trade fair in Düsseldorf. For visitors, there’s nothing comparable – anywhere in the world. We’ve noticed the quality of the audience getting better and better. We also welcome the increase in student attendees, because they are the future of the industry, and we can show them their options on a large scale here."

Innovationparc Packaging
Robert van Otterdijk, agro-industry officer in the rural infrastructure & agroindustries division, FAO: "We’ve developed the Save Food concept in collaboration with Messe Düsseldorf, and the implementation at the InnovationparcPackaging turned out beautifully. We would be delighted to return for the nextedition of interpack."

Vera Fritsche, international trade fairs, markets, economy,VDMA: "The Innovationparc Packaging concept worked out very well, and lots of visitors frequented the exhibitor tent – including many young people who attended interpack in connection with the pupil
competition. The IPP is a wonderful opportunity to acquaint pupils with the issue of food losses and food waste while piquing their interest in technology."

Marc-Peter Zander, managing partner, XCOM Africa: "We organised the ‘Mango Project’ in Kenya in collaboration with interpack and within the framework of the Save Food Initiative. At our stand at the Innovationparc Packaging, we provided information on this project and our consulting services to visitors. The concept of the IPP was very well received because the save food issue is becoming more
prominent, and awareness for the problem among the public is on the rise."