As technology constantly changes and businesses evolve, staying ahead of the curve has become increasingly important for beverage companies. The latest innovations in packaging and processing technology will be on display for 45,000 attendees Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at PMMI’s 2010 Pack Expo International in Chicago.

This year’s expo will feature the traditional show floor with more than 1,600 exhibiting companies along with several new features, including the Reusable Packaging Pavilion, The Brand Zone and Project 2020. Attendees will see packaging machinery in action on the show floor and get an up-close look at packaging equipment, converting machinery, processing technology, containers and material during the four-day event.

The Brand Zone, formerly known as the Containers & Materials Pavilion, will cover more than 60,000 square feet, highlighting a range of containers and materials that respond to consumers’ demands for convenience, portion control, portability and sustainability, says the show’s organizer, the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI). Exhibits in The Brand Zone will feature advancements in glass, plastic, metal and paperboard along with several decorating and labeling techniques and recloseable packaging options, PMMI says.

“Packaging is an essential marketing vehicle – keeping brands competitive and relevant with consumers even as priorities and tastes change,” said Charles D. Yuska, PMMI’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “The Brand Zone helps brand owners stay connected to the latest technologies so they can position themselves for long-term success.”

Also debuting in The Brand Zone is Project 2020: The Consumer Experience. It will examine consumer demands that are expected to drive packaging innovation 10 years down the line. PMMI has invited package designers and developers to submit concepts and prototypes showing what they envision the future of packaging to look like and the 20 most creative designs, deemed by show judges, will be displayed at Pack Expo.

At the Reusable Packaging Pavilion, attendees can learn how brand owners can derive economic, environmental and social benefits from reusable packaging. The pavilion will focus on reusable pallets, hand-held containers, bulk containers, dunnage and other transport packaging solutions, PMMI says. The pavilion’s goal is to provide insight into how reusable transport packaging can impact productivity and profitability.

Educational opportunities
In addition to the educational areas on the show floor, the Grocery Manufacturers Association is partnering with PMMI and co-locating its first Manufacturing Excellence Conference (MEC) on Nov. 1-2 during Pack Expo. The conference will allow attendees to:

• Learn directly from leading food, beverage and consumer products companies.

• Focus on the industry’s dominant manufacturing issues – product safety, sustainability and operational reliability.

• Attend all of the leading-edge MEC educational sessions for the track of the attendee’s choice and walk the Pack Expo show floor for one price.

In addition, Nov. 1-2, The Flexographic Technical Association and Converting and Package Printing Expo will offer in-depth looks at the latest technologies available in the field. Sessions include: “Improving Color Consistency through Anilox Management,” “The Flexo Dream,” “Catching the Consumer First” and “Conquering the Resolution Revolution.”

Attendees can round out their Pack Expo experience also by attending the Packaging Learning Center conference program, presented by the Institute of Packaging Professionals throughout the morning and early afternoon of Nov. 1-3. The Institute of Packaging Professionals will host a series of seminars led by a mix of end-users, industry consultants and suppliers. The seminars will focus on several topics in the packaging industry, including sustainability and food safety.

Additionally, The Packaging Association’s inventive program, “Fast Tracking Sustainable Innovation,” takes place Nov. 2. The program, open to all attendees of Pack Expo, will be covered by a separate fee. The program’s PAC Green Den brings together the ingredients of successful reality television and business matchmaking. Innovators will present their solutions to expert panelists with sustainability and packaging experience in front of a live audience of brand owners and retailers. Panelists include: Tom Szaky, founder and chief executive officer of TerraCycle; Ron Sasine, senior director of packaging at Wal-Mart; and Brian Wagner, co-founder of PTIS.

Expert panelists will offer constructive feedback on their products, processes and services. Innovators will conduct 15-minute private meetings with up to nine brand owners of the PAC Green Den Committee to discuss their creative offerings in greater depth. At the end of the event, the audience will vote for a “Best of Show” winner. The three top winners will receive PAC Green Den Sustainable Awards. BI