Feature article

PACK EXPO sets new trade show standard for packaging

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Sr. Director, Media and Industry Communications
PACK EXPO International and Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2018 wrapped as largest yet.

Closing out another year of record-breaking events for the PACK EXPO Portfolio of Trade Shows, the largest ever PACK EXPO International and co-located Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2018 convened nearly 45,000 attendees with 2,500 exhibitors over 1.25 million net square feet at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Show owner and producer PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, reported 457 new exhibitors this year, which is no surprise as the show opened its doors amidst forecasts of growth in the packaging industry, based on PMMI’s State of the Industry U.S. Packaging Machinery Report.

“The continued success of PACK EXPO is a testament to not only our industry’s growth, but PMMI’s commitment to offering a world-class environment for exhibitors to offer cutting-edge solutions to our attendees,” says Jim Pittas, CEO, PMMI. “We are committed to adding value by constantly improving our show offerings to assist in driving the packaging industry into the future.”

Darren Ward, director of engineering at Coca-Cola, Southwest Beverages, came to PACK EXPO looking for a more environmentally friendly way to bind bottles together.

"We come to PACK EXPO to learn what we don't know and to find true innovation,” says Ward. “Packaging is a big deal for us, and the smaller our footprint, the better."

Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2018 continued its steady growth with representatives from each of the top 25 pharma companies by global sales finding solutions among 250 healthcare suppliers from the pharmaceutical, biopharma, nutraceutical and medical device industries.

A 10-plus year exhibitor at PACK EXPO, Scott Smith, vice president, global business development and strategic marketing for Barry Wehmiller, positioned PACK EXPO International and Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2018 as one of the best in his recent memory. “I can’t remember a show with better quality clients who were very obviously at the show to engage and learn from exhibiting packaging equipment companies,” says Smith. “As a testament to that, Barry Wehmiller had dozens of pre-scheduled meetings with customers this year, and the most impressive thing about that was that virtually all of them showed up for their meetings, despite the size of the show and the distraction of a great city. PMMI has built an environment that encourages engagement and learning, and it seems to get better every year.”

The buzz on the show floor also confirmed that exhibitors and attendees from companies of all sizes found a rewarding, and some claim unparalleled, experience at the four-day event.

“This was one of the busiest PACK EXPOs I can remember,” says Timm Johnson, VP sales and marketing at Spee-Dee. “A number of good projects came in, traffic was steady and at one point, traffic by our booth was so heavy, everyone was at a standstill in the aisle.”

Many attendees came ready with projects in hand, looking for specific equipment solutions to satisfy their needs and touted the variety offered on the show floor, allowing them to make the best possible decision for their business.

Harry Kurniawan is the financial controller at Verka Food International and he attended the show looking for solutions for his food manufacturing and distributing company.

“We're setting up a new plant and came to PACK EXPO International to find an automated packaging machinery line,” says Kurniawan. “At the show, we were able to find two possible suppliers for each part of that new line, allowing us to weigh our options."

While returning show favorites such as the Innovation Stages addressed hot industry topics and provided a wealth of insights, The Forum made its PACK EXPO International debut with 15 interactive sessions over the four days.

Jake Lunow, packaging engineer at Spectrum Brands, found great value in the on-floor educational opportunities.

“I was looking for the latest e-commerce packaging ideas and technologies,” says Lunow. “The Innovation Stage presentation on e-commerce is what really drew me to the show.”

Another new feature this year reinforced PACK EXPO’s reputation as packaging’s largest classroom while also demonstrating PMMI’s continued commitment to investing in the future workforce. CareerLink, a platform for PMMI member companies seeking entry level and internship positions to connect with students looking to gain experience and employment in the packaging and processing industry, made its PACK EXPO International debut. Enterprising students took advantage of the opportunity to witness the industry in action with nearly 1500 attending this year, almost twice as many as attended PACK EXPO International in 2016.

The inaugural Technology Excellence Awards was another hit. After months paring down the many qualified entries, three days of onsite voting allowed PACK EXPO International and Healthcare Packaging EXPO attendees to be the ultimate judge of the most innovative new technologies at the show. The winners included Triangle Package Machinery Co. (Baking and Snack), Volpak (Beverage and Dairy), Evolabel (General Packaging), Bemis Company Inc. (Meat/Poultry/Seafood),Neopac The Tube (Personal Care/ Cosmetics), Bausch + Ströbel Machine Company, Inc. (Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices) andPearson Packaging Systems (Prepared Foods).

More than 550 industry professionals attended the Packaging & Processing Women’s Leadership Network’s (PPWLN) regional meeting featuring an inspirational panel discussion moderated by Jane Chase, executive director, Institute of Packaging Professionals. The discussion included insights on empowering woman in the manufacturing workplace from Carol O’Neill, group president, packaging, Barry-Wehmiller, Hugh Roddy, vice president, Global Engineering & Project Management, Chobani and AJ Jorgenson, avp, Strategic Engagement, The Manufacturing Institute.

Sebastian Maniscalco brought the laughs as he teased the packaging audience about boxes and industry acronyms at PACK gives BACK, PACK EXPO’s biggest networking event. This annual fundraiser benefits the PACK EXPO Scholarship Fund, which once again provided scholarships to six students studying at two- or four-year PMMI partner schools.

The Insider Advantage (IA) program also saw a record number of participants with over 1,500 registered attendees from 23 packaged goods companies reaping the benefits of free private meeting rooms, customized trends presentations, PMMI’s latest business initiatives and OpX Leadership Network.

Next up in the PACK EXPO portfolio is ProFood Tech (March 26-28, 2019; McCormick Place, Chicago). Powered by PACK EXPO, Anuga and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), ProFood Tech is the premier food and beverage processing event in North America. This biennial event will bring together 7,000 professionals from nearly every food and beverage sector to explore the latest processing innovations and technologies from 450 suppliers. Information and registration for the upcoming show can be found at profoodtech.com.

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