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Return of the ‘pack – Interpack 2017

With more than 2,700 exhibitors expected from 60 different countries, interpack (4–10 May), is seeing the highest demand in its history. Bernd Jablonowski, global director at Messe Düsseldorf for processing and packaging, advises what to see and do at such an enormous show.

Packaging & Converting Intelligence: What is the main theme for interpack 2017?

Bernd Jablonowski: interpack does not have an official motto, but our own activities focus on SAVE FOOD, which deals with ways to prevent food waste and loss, and Industry 4.0. There will be areas for both topics at the show.

Who will attend and where will they be from?

interpack attracts about 170,000 professionals from more than 160 countries interested in packaging and processing technology and packaging means and material. The main target groups are food, beverage, confectionery, bakery, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, non-food and industrial goods. More than 2,700 exhibitors will show products and solutions for those target groups, using all capacities at our fairground, which has about 262,400m2 of space.

What are the main trends in the packaging industry at the moment?  

The three major areas are rising efficiency and flexibility, safety and quality; and energy/resource efficiency. These are being driven by consumer demand for a variety of high-quality products that must come in sustainable packaging.

How would you categorise the global market?

There is not a single homogenous market, as developments are not the same in every country. However, there are global trends, of course. The demand for packaged food, for example, will rise continuously. According to UK market researcher, Euromonitor International, packaged food worth €2 trillion was sold worldwide in 2015. By 2020, spending will rise to €3 trillion, an increase of 50%. The worldwide demand will grow, not only for food, but also for pharmaceutical products. IMS Health estimates that spending will increase by 31% from the current €963 billion to €1.3 billion in 2020. This is really good news for processing and packaging companies alike.

The challenge will be to maximise efficiency while reducing costs, especially where food is concerned.

What’s new for interpack 2017?

As mentioned before, there will be a new special exhibition on Industry 4.0, organised by the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). It will take the form of a Technology Lounge at the VDMA stand, featuring examples of packaging machinery and process engineering, and opening up new opportunities for applications in security, traceability, copying and counterfeit protection, as well as in customised packaging. This will not be just a static presentation: attendees will see technology operating. Apart from this, the innovationparc will show products designed to prevent food loss and waste. There will be a  SAVE FOOD congress on this theme on the opening day of the event and – last but not least –the ‘components’ fair will be hosted for a second time. This time, though, the show for suppliers of packaging and processing technology will take place in its own 5,000m2 hall in the middle of interpack.

Which area has the most activity among exhibitors?

The food and beverage sector is the largest user of packaging worldwide, so this will be the focus for the majority of exhibitors. This does not mean, however, that other sectors – confectionery/bakery, pharma, cosmetics, non-food or industrial goods, for example – are less active. In fact, many companies operate across various sectors, so there will be innovations for every industry.

Where do you think the biggest packaging innovation will come from in 2017?

interpack is a true premiere show and most exhibitors with significant innovations use it as a platform for a ‘big bang’. Therefore, I am not able to answer this question prior to the show. You’ll have to be there to see for yourself.

What are you most looking forward to seeing?

I look forward to the show as a whole. It is great to see when three years’ effort becomes visible. The SAVE FOOD congress will also be interesting, because we await high-ranked participants, such as the Indian minister of food processing industries.

How do you manage such a large event to make sure it consistently delivers what its attendees need?

I am lucky to have a very good team of professionals around me and we have a very international network with subsidiaries and foreign representatives in about 130 countries. The philosophy is not just to sell space, but to try to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry and the topics that are most important to it. Furthermore, Messe Düsseldorf has almost 60 years of experience in organising interpack; the first show was hosted in 1958.

What regulation or legislation will be most important in 2017?

Due to the international focus of interpack, there is no single regulation of any country that is most important. However, EU laws, like FMD – which will be coming into effect in February 2019 –will require track and trace technology, as well as tamper evidence closures, for pharmaceutical products. This will require investment from European companies.

How do you see responsibility or sustainability developing in 2017?

This topic might not be new, but it is gaining importance and affects almost every part of the industry. That means that resource-efficient use of packaging material, or even alternative materials and efficient production technology, are crucial for the industry to meet this demand.

What do you think will be the biggest outcome from interpack 2017?

interpack 2017 will demonstrate, once again, the innovative power of the processing and packaging industries. We will see faster, more efficient, more flexible and more intelligent technology, while packaging material will become thinner and lighter, at no cost to stability.