INNOVATION, sustainability and digitisation are all set to feature high on the agenda at this year’s Packaging Innovations, Empack and Label&Print event.
Over 300 exhibitors will attend the annual event, which aims to bring buyers and suppliers together under one roof and provide visitors with a sneak peak into the future by highlighting the innovative developments which are likely to feature prominently in the sector’s future.
James Drake-Brockman, divisional director of Easyfairs’ packaging portfolio, told Packaging Scotland that, in his opinion, this event is unique within the UK in that brings all of the packaging supply chain together under one roof.
“I don’t think there’s another event that does what we do,” he explained. “We have the greatest representation from a supply point of view and I would say the strongest attendance from the major packaging creators and buyers in the market. You’ve got events for print; you’ve got events for machinery; but you don’t really have anything that does what we do, which is provide something for every part of that packaging buying chain.
“This is a chance for the packaging community to come together at the NEC to network, do business, collaborate, learn.
“We’ve seen a lot of big organisations sending upwards of 20 people to the event, where they’ve all got their little bit that’s relevant to them and they can come back together to discuss ideas. For us it’s really good because we’re touching different parts of the packaging decision making process within these big organisations and also giving those people responsible for it the opportunity to go away, be inspired, come back together and talk about how that can them be implemented within their company. That’s what we’re aiming for.
“We’ve got more of a focus on innovation this year than we’ve had in the past. We’re looking at working with some really exciting partners, which will be announced very soon to try and bring some of the more innovative developments that are relevant to the packaging industry; new materials, new functionalities or technology. We’ve produced a new innovation stage as well, purely focused on innovations from within and outside of the packaging community that will have an impact on packaging over the coming years.”
The Innovation Stage is one of five seminar venues spread across the event. The Keynote Stage will feature over 20 hours of content split into industry-specific forums. Featured sectors include cosmetics, food, drink, retail and ecommerce. There will also be the Ecopack Theatre, which focuses on sustainability, the Label&Print Stage, which examines the print side of things, and the Packaging News Stage.
James is firmly of the opinion that trade events like this one have an important role to play and serve a number of purposes.
“Ultimately we’re about bringing buyers and sellers together,” he said. “We (provide an) audience of people who are responsible for purchasing packaging and related products and services around that, and we get them in a room with people who have new, different, innovative products for them. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up with current suppliers as well, so it ticks both boxes. But I think what’s really crucial is it’s about bringing a community together. A lot of the conversations we have with people are that it’s really nice to catch up with old colleagues or industry friends, and meet new people who share similar passions. People are so passionate about packaging within the industry. They love coming together and making friends – and we focus on encouraging that a lot through networking drinks and having lots of networking opportunities within the show as well.”
James added that a further aim is to help people be better at their jobs. “Our mantra at Easyfairs is ‘visit the future’ with the idea being that wben you come to one of our events, you’ve got a glimpse into whatever the future is of your working environment. We’ll be doing our best to showcase some of the really key trends that are happening and also bring out some innovative sessions from companies that are forging a way so people can understand how others have done it through case studies. “
In terms of issues, sustainability and the circular economy are set to feature prominently. James revealed they are in conversations to bring some “really interesting people to that discussion to try and move it forward and uncover potential real solutions to the problems we have, but also to try and address it in a sensible way”.
“We will look at it from an objective and useful point of view for the industry,” he added. “Print is also a thing we’ll be looking at and the digital side of things there – things like personalisation and how that affects consumer engagement.”
James said the event experienced some “very rapid growth” and has become a feature in the events diary. “We’re seeing good growth again this year,” he added. “It’s a show that has become a really important part of the packaging annual calendar. This really does provide a home for the UK community and is very much focused on that.
“I’m already thinking about 2019. We have to think long-term about what we’re trying to do as an event. There’s a lot of organisation. I’ve got a fantastic team that all work tirelessly on this, and our London event and also our new event we’ve launched in New York. It’s an awful lot of work; I lose more hair every year and get less sleep. It’s a bit like having a child I suppose!”
Packaging Innovations, Empack and Label&Print will take place at Birmingham’s NEC on 28 February & 1 March 2018.