As Pack Expo, the premier event for packaging equipment, kicks off in Chicago on Oct. 28, makers of packaging equipment might well feel their business is on a glide path. “Business is still up but only by 2 or 3% over last year,” says PMMI market development Vice President Jorge Izquierdo. “Things are gradually slowing down. It’s the same for new orders and proposal activity.”
Izquierdo says PMMI companies are still hiring, but at a slower rate than at the beginning of the year. And some areas of the packaging industry are seeing more action than others. “Durablegoods packaging is holding up reasonably well,” he says. “Food and beverage are both in slowgrowth mode, and pharma is in extremely slow-growth mode.”
Flexible packaging is one of the technologies seeing a lot of interest in several corners of the industry. “The trend toward flexible packaging has been accelerated by economics,” says Izquierdo. “Some companies are shifting to flex to keep costs down. Brand-name producers are pushing back against private labelers, sometimes. They are trying to maintain the same price level, and one of the ways they sometimes do this is by finding ways to cut down on the packaging,” says Izquierdo.
Innovative ideas that minimize packaging materials not only cut costs, they also promote sustainability by reducing the amount of energy expended on handling and the material sent to land fills.
An example that will be up for discussion at Pack Expo comes from Pack Flow Concepts LLC, Pittsford, N.Y. It consists of a reusable outer container holding a pouch: To refill the container, buy another pouch. The pouch dispenses practically all the product it holds, unlike existing designs. “The problem with existing dispensers like those for hand lotion is that between 7 to 15% of the product remains in the container when you are finished with it. You don’t have that problem with our design,” says Pack Flow Concepts Marketing & Sales Director Gene Eckert.
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