It looks as though packaging-equipment makers are expecting business to improve at least marginally over the coming months. At least that’s what the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute is seeing as its members head off to the Pack Expo show, considered the premiere showcase for packaging equipment.“I’d call the mood optimistic,” says PMMI president and CEO Chuck Yuska. PMMI’s most recent monthly survey, he says, showed that general business activity, new orders, and quotation activity all have risen to a point indicating growth. The biggest jump came in quotations and proposals.
Additionally, says Yuska, PMMI’s Purchasing Index of U. S. spending on packaging machinery shows growth in the third quarter. The vast majority of businesses polled say they would “increase” or “maintain” their purchasing plans if business conditions stay the same. And PMMI’s Fourth Quarter Economic Outlook concludes that packaging equipment makers will see growth through the end of this year and into the next. However, growth will slow in the beginning of next year.
Yuska says end-of-line efficiencies seem to be driving the growth. The Fourth Quarter Outlook showed positive signals for end-of-line packaging machinery such as robotics, which would indicate growth for shipments — particularly in the beverage, coffee, and tea segment and in the durables, hard goods, and components production segment.
Yuska says sustainability is another trend that is boosting packaging-equipment markets. “There’s a great deal of conversation about all facets of sustainable production, and it will be exciting to see what’s being shown,” he says.
Equipment for flexible packaging also seems to be in growth mode. According to the Flexible Packaging Assn., sales revenues are expected to rise 3.4% to $27.3 billion this year, up from $26.4 billion. The FPA reports that flexible packaging represents about 18% of the estimated $143 billion U. S. packaging market and includes flexible packaging products used for food, shrink and stretch films, retail shopping bags, and so forth.
Top growth areas for converters, says FPA, include pet foods/supplies, pharmaceuticals, and health and beauty aids. FPA also notes that plastic resins and plastic film and sheet account for 61% of flexible packaging materials, with ink and paper both at 9%, foil at 7%, and coatings and adhesives at 4%.
Some 1,600 packaging and packaging-equipment makers will exhibit at Pack Expo, which begins Oct. 31 in Chicago’s McCormick Place. New features will include a display area called the Processing Zone housing technologies targeting the production line as a complete process. The Confectionery Pavilion, sponsored by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), will showcase innovations from the confection and snack food sectors. The Brand Zone, formerly known as the Containers & Materials Pavilion, covers innovative containers and glass, plastic, metal and paperboard packaging designed for visual impact, convenience, and better shelf life. The Brand Zone will also include the Showcase of Packaging Innovations, sponsored by The Dow Chemical Co.
Also on site is what’s called Project 2020 — The Consumer Experience, sponsored by DuPont, designed to be a look into the future of packaging through emerging trends and technologies.
Finally, the DistriPak Pavilion is aimed at packaging and paper distributors and sponsored by the NPTA Alliance (formerly the National Paper Trade Assn.). It is designed as a way to find industrial-packaging distributors and manufacturers of machinery and materials that sell through distribution channels.