New features for Packaging Innovations 2020 ahead of 2021 expansion

Hannah Jordan
Thursday, January 16, 2020

The organisers of next month’s Packaging Innovations have announced a series of new features for the show with plans afoot for major new developments in 2021.

Packaging Innovations 2020 will take place next month
Packaging Innovations 2020 will take place next month

Event director of Easyfairs’ UK packaging portfolio Victoria Blake, who took up her role in September, said the show’s advisory board of industry experts had identified key areas for focus and new directions for the annual show to explore. 

This year, visitors to the show, which takes place at Birmingham’s NEC on 22-24 February, will find the new Visit the Future Hub, designed to highlight how the industry is evolving.

“There are a lot more new companies springing up, more e-commerce, a lot of pressure on brands regarding the packaging part of the supply chain,” Blake explained. “We wanted to look at what features we have existing and where we want to go. So this year we’ve added some small changes with a view to really strategically ramping things up in 2021. 

“The Future Hub is the stepping stone to that. We want visitors to see some real examples of innovation, most of which will focus on sustainability because that’s really where the market is,” she added.

The Visit the Future hub will include the Design Innovation stage where industry experts will share their knowledge and experience from the design stages through to technical production, an industry area that Blake said needs more focus. 

“There are miscommunications down the supply chain and there seems to be a skills gap when it comes to packaging design so you end up with junior designers designing for major firms without the technical expertise in packaging," she said. 

“This is where the Design Innovation Stage comes in, it will bridge the technical knowledge gap for designers - how to design packaging with the various elements of the supply chain in mind.” 

Another new area of the 2020 show will be the Start-Up Village, which will showcase between eight to 10 new packaging firms that the show organisers say will disrupt the industry with their concepts, while the Innovation Showcase will give people the chance to view 12 “ground-breaking” new packaging designs that will compete for the ‘Most Innovative Pack’ award, voted for by visitors. 

The final new addition for 2020 is the introduction of the Big Carbon Debate, which has evolved out of the Big Plastics debate of former years. 

“It has always been a really popular part of the show but we want to keep our finger on the pulse of the packaging conversation and we feel this element needs to move on. 

“The issue is not just about whether or not we should use plastics, it’s about all kinds of packaging, so for example if you use glass instead of plastic the freight is heavier so the carbon footprint is higher. These issues have really broadened the conversation around environmentally friendly packaging and the circular economy.”

Speakers from organisations such as Coca-Cola, WWF and Wrap will feature in this segment, said Blake.

Popular features such as the Education Hub, developing young talent in the industry, and the one-to-one Packaging Consultancy Clinic hosted by the Packaging Society will be returning along with all the other regular features of the show. 

Looking ahead to next year Blake said the intention was to grow the event to include a number of new areas with a view to “encompassing the whole industry under one roof”.

“Contract packing has always been part of the show and it is really growing as demand from e-commerce and especially the beauty sector increases in the UK, so we are looking at growing this section and including fulfilment for the first time,” she explained. 

“We also want to explore automation and robotics, building representation from further down the supply chain essentially.

"We are very good at materials and innovation but when it comes to machinery, technology for packing and fulfilling, we are still not where we want to be,” Blake added.

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