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Betting on the future

Betting on the future 1With signs of an economic recovery developing, packaging professionals seeking equipment and material innovations turned out in near-record numbers for last month's PACK EXPO Las Vegas.


The show, held Oct. 5 to 7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, attracted 22,721 attendees and 11,246 exhibitor personnel, making it the second-largest PACK EXPO Las Vegas since the Packaging Machinery Mfrs.' Institute (PMMI) launched the show in 1995.

“Given the economy this year, we are extremely pleased with the turnout,” says Charles D. Yuska, president and CEO of PMMI. “Tradeshows mirror the industries they serve, and the strong attendance may indicate an economic recovery.”

Showgoer Tom Bert, plant manager of Seneca Foods, says this PACK EXPO was one of the best his company has attended. “Our goal every show is to find innovative packaging machinery to help us improve our operations—and that is definitely what we are finding.”

Wesley Carpenter, marketing manager, Loveshaw, says his company's booth had more traffic than it expected. “We were able to close the deal on two pieces of machinery,” he adds. “What really pleased us was the quality of the leads. We saw qualified buyers ready to do business.”

Sales do happen at PACK EXPO on a regular basis, agreees Matt Croson, PMMI vp of member services, particularly for smaller end users who know what they need and have simpler procurement processes. Buyers for larger companies tend to move their discussions into proposal stages, and connect with suppliers to work out details following the show, he explains.

Sales a good measure for show

“The success of any tradeshow—especially one centered on capital investments such as packaging and processing machinery—is typically measured in the months following the event, when leads convert to sales,” Croson says.

Enhancing the value of this year's PACK EXPO was an important factor in its success, Yuska notes, and to create that additional value, PMMI worked with several leading associations and consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs). The results included co-located events, special show features and the Innovation Discovery program, all of which gave attendees more networking, business and educational opportunities.

Croson points out that a number of internationally recognized brand owners brought large contingents to the show, with as many as 110 attendees. “They wouldn't send large teams to the show if they didn't have a plan to get something done,” he says.

 

“Partnering with these organizations gave attendees a fuller experience that included a broad array of packaging and processing solutions, as well as educational and networking activities focused specifically on their areas of interest,” adds Yuska.

In addition, the Food Processing Suppliers Association's (FPSA) PROCESS EXPO and the Converting and Package Printing Expo (CPP EXPO) were co-located with PACK EXPO Las Vegas. Together, the three shows featured 1,523 exhibitors and 656,692 net sq ft of space.

Exhibits reflect industry direction

Attendees were able to see developments that illustrate many of the trends being seen in the market, such as increased use of robotics, demand for flexibility in packaging machines, faster changeovers, more use of servos, reclosable packaging, retail-ready secondary packaging and continued development of sustainable materials.

Flexibility and faster changeovers are always among the top five required attributes when PMMI researches end-user demand, Croson says, but sustainability-related developments are leading to new materials being used for the first time, and that requires more flexible equipment.

Many companies at the show placed an emphasis on their service capabilities. “Enhancing the value of your primary product is a significant driver right now,” Croson says. “End users need full-service solutions before and after the sale.”

 Betting on the future 2
 Betting on the future 3
 Companies at PACK EXPO Las Vegas show off the latest in packaging technology. At top, T.H.E.M. staffers (left to right) Eric Hawley, Neil Kozarsky, Stephen Belko and Melyssa Sampieri display advances in stick-packs, while Digital Design Inc.'s Stephen Firmender, Mark Bryce, Angel Cartagena, Dave Jeffers, Ed Tipperretter, Bryan Wilson and Ed Gerri unveil the company's marking and coding equipment.

Show finds the zone with branding

In addition to 160 containers and materials suppliers, the 59,592-sq-ft Brand Zone housed the Showcase of Packaging Innovation, sponsored by Dow Chemical Co. and PACK EXPO Selects.

“With the Brand Zone, PACK EXPO gave brand managers a place to go to find the latest solutions for meeting customer demands for convenience, portability, recyclability and portion control and access to all of the technologies necessary to make those ideas a reality,” Yuska says.

“PACK EXPO is a great place to find the latest advancements in packaging materials, containers, machinery—everything we need to enhance the packaging for our private label brand,” says Chet Rutledge, director packaging procurement private brands, Walmart Stores Inc. “This year has proved especially beneficial as we got to hear from our industry peers, helping us understand how the retail landscape is growing and how packaging can help continue that trend.” PMMI is planning PACK EXPO International 2010 for Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 in Chicago's McCormick Place. “PACK EXPO International 2010 will be the largest packaging and processing event in the world next year,” says Yuska.


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