The latest edition of interpack, the trade fair targeting innovations in packaging and associated processing industries, organized this May 8-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany, attracted over 175,000 visitors and 2700 exhibitors, according to the organizers, Messe Dusseldorf.
The 19 halls of the Dusseldorf Exhibition Center were fully booked by companies interested in exhibiting their novelties in the packaging sector and the associated process industries. “interpack has provided impressive proof of its leading international role yet again this year. This success confirms our fundamental philosophy of addressing the international industries in their respective markets in a very targeted manner – already in the run-up to the event thereby bringing them to their most important event in Düsseldorf every three years”, explained Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, President & CEO of Messe Düsseldorf.
All in all, over 120 countries sent representatives to the 2014 edition of interpack and among the main topics discussed during the event, efficiency of resources, quality and safety were on top of the list of most participants, of which over 60% were from outside Germany. Hand in hand with these topics, as well as others such as diversity and flexibility for a wide range of equipment and products, was the high number of innovations introduced by both major players and smaller companies, some of which specifically addressed the frozen food sector. “For a leading international trade fair it is not enough just to rent out exhibition space and offer perfect organization. Trend themes must be identified, anchored in the concept and finally also 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,” said Bernd Jablonowski, director of interpack & Save Food, the congress attended by over 450 participants and held during the event, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
Exhibitors were also satisfied with the results prior to participation, as Christian Traumann, managing director of Multivac said: “We don’t just use interpack to take care of our existing customers but also as a meeting place for our subsidiaries and employees. Here everyone has an opportunity to identify with the products and the company. Moreover, 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! We noticed two obvious trends at this year’s trade fair: Technology is moving more and more toward smaller packaging sizes, which are being requested by customers again and again.” Similarly, Torsten Giese, Marketing Manager – PR & Exhibitions of Ishida concluded: “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. Many trade fairs today are eschewing the ‘touch & feel’ factor, but interpack offers the best of what’s available to visitors: exhibitors have an opportunity to take customers along on a ‘presentation journey,’ which leaves behind a particularly strong impression. The current trend in the industry favors all-in-one solutions: The customer requests from his supplier a solution that’s perfectly structured from start to finish. That’s why Ishida attempts to generate concepts that guarantee consistent performance over long periods of time. The feedback we’ve been getting in talks with high-calibre customer has been very positive throughout.”
Fight against food waste
Held a day prior to interpack, Save Food Congress showcased ways to combat food losses and waste along the entire food chain, with a special focus on specific solutions in Kenya. Over 450 participants attended the second edition of the event, hosted by the Save Food Initiative and held in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). As packaging technology can make a major contribution to lowering food loss and waste, interpack provided the platform for the initiative.
Guests and participants included FAO, UNEP and Messe Düsseldorf officials, the Senegalese minister and musician Youssou N’Dour; general secretary of the German Council for Sustainable Development, Prof. Dr. Günther Bachmann; Global FoodBanking Network CEO, Jeffrey Klein; and Tristram Stuart, founder of the initiative “Feeding the 5,000”.
The lectures and workshops aimed to identify practical problem-solving approaches and options, starting from the current status reinforced by the majority of the speakers: one third of the food produced worldwide is wasted; meaning about 1.3bn tonnes of foodstuffs never reach the food consumer. This is the effect of food being wasted throughout the entire chain, from initial agricultural production, down to processing and final household consumption. Some of the many examples given by all speakers included: roughly 30 percent of the potato crop remains in the ground in West Africa, and up to 40 percent of the green beans produced in Kenya are trimmed off to fit packages, while “in Western societies, the biggest wasters are the consumers,” said Selena Juul, founder of the Stop Wasting Food movement in Denmark.
The first of the two themed days addressed food loss and waste problems from political and social angles, while the second half focused on solutions and best practices presented by enterprises.
“I’m very satisfied with the second international Save FooD Congress and with its outcome. Once more, it impressively demonstrated that a broad alliance reaching across sectors and across nations can make a difference and have a real impact. Our goal is and will remain a reduction of food losses and food waste and along with that the eradication of hunger in the world – and this Congress has brought us a big step closer to our goal”, said Dornscheidt.
Food unfit to sell
As emphasized by several speakers, food labelled “waste” according to sales standards is valid for human consumption. “Nobody wants to eat food waste”, said Jeffrey D. Klein, representing Global FoodBanking Network. The organisation helps distribute surplus food through the community-based tools they created, the food banks, which work with social service organisation. In addition, over the course of the event, Tristram Stuart from the “Feeding the 5,000” campaign proved how tasty food can be, even when it’s no longer fit for sale in stores. He prepared the dishes that made up the catering menu served to Congress participants. “Everyone mentions the waste of plastic bags, rather than the food inside them. Plastic packaging increases shelf life. It may seem it helps with food waste, but it doesn’t actually necessarily mean the packaged product will be wasted less. There are many examples where the plastic packaging itself is causing food waste,” he explained during his presentation.
*Catalina Mihu, online editor of worldbakers.com and potatobusiness.com contributed to this article.