The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s (PMMI) Pack Expo International 2012 will be the largest edition of the show in a decade, with more than 1,800 exhibitors showcasing the latest in packaging and processing innovation across more than 1.1 million square feet of exhibit space, PMMI says. In fact, the event sold out of exhibit space in July.

“The sold-out status of Pack Expo speaks volumes to its value as a showcase for the packaging and processing industries,” said Charles D. Yuska, president and chief executive officer of PMMI, in a statement. “With space completely gone three months out, the show has surpassed even our expectations.”

Taking place Oct. 28-31 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Pack Expo maintains its customer-centric focus to help brand owners easily locate the solutions and suppliers they need. For the beverage industry, the event offers specialized pavilions and lounges including The Beverage Cooler Lounge, The Brand Zone and The Processing Zone.


The Beverage Cooler Lounge

The Beverage Cooler Lounge, sponsored by the International Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT), joins the Rx Lounge, The Candy Bar and The Baking-Snack Break as a central networking location on the show floor, providing beverage industry professionals a place on the show floor to connect and find insight on the latest trends in the marketplace. As an extension of The Beverage Cooler Lounge, PMMI launched The Beverage Connected Community, which is an online forum where the beverage industry can connect and continue the Pack Expo show experience beyond the show floor.

“There are commonalities between the needs of specific market niches for packaging and processing,” Yuska said. “But each market has its own unique qualities, too. The lounges at Pack Expo and the Connected Communities online are in place to expand the opportunities industry professionals in or serving those markets have to meet, network and share ideas.”


The Brand Zone

The Brand Zone was created to help brands think outside the box, featuring innovative containers and materials that offer a competitive edge at the point-of-sale and build consumer loyalty, according to PMMI. Within The Brand Zone, attendees will have the opportunity to explore award-winning package designs at The Showcase of Packaging Innovations, sponsored by The Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich. New materials from New York-based Material ConneXion and consumer insight from Chicago-based market research firm Mintel will be showcased. Material ConneXion, for example, will allow attendees to handle a sampling of the more than 6,500 advanced and sustainable materials from the company’s global materials libraries. Experts will be on hand to educate attendees about the properties of the different materials, many of which will come from outside of the packaging space, and their cross-over potential. Additionally, Material ConneXion will present daily live demonstrations in the display area.

“Successful packaging depends on the ability to innovate, and often that means looking to other industries for inspiration,” Yuska said. “In partnering with Material ConneXion, PMMI and Pack Expo are encouraging brand owners and designers to challenge the way they approach packaging design and to discover ways the newest materials being used in textile, interior or even transportation applications might be applied to packaging.”


The Processing Zone and More

As in past years, The Processing Zone is dedicated to upstream systems that yield higher productivity, consistent quality and seamless production, according to PMMI. Suppliers will run machinery on the show floor, and experts will be available to discuss engineering details. 

The Reusable Packaging Pavilion also is returning this year. Sponsored by the Reusable Packaging Association, this area focuses on sustainable, cost-effective assets such as pallets, hand-held or bulk containers, and other reusable packaging that can cut shipping costs, save on labor, reduce waste and protect product during transit.

Attendees also can visit the Food Safety Summit Resource Center at the show. This area will feature the latest food safety solutions, subject matter experts specializing in a range of topics and advances in this rapidly changing field. Presentations will be given each day on issues including the Food Safety Modernization Act, food packaging, hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), economic fraud, safety and regulations of allergens, pest control, sanitation and traceability.

The Pack Expo Lecture Series returns this year with comedian and pundit Dennis Miller and commentator James Carville taking the stage on the first night of the show, Oct. 28.

“The discussion between Carville and Miller promises to be not only engaging and entertaining, but particularly relevant in this election year,” Yuska said.

On Oct. 30, PMMI will host a reception honoring the Packaging Hall of Fame Class of 2012 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place during Pack Expo. The following leaders will be honored: Curtis Babb, retired from MillerCoors, Chicago; Thomas Brady with Plastic Technologies Inc., Holland, Ohio; Thomas Dunn with Flexpacknology LLC, Atlanta; Fred Hayes with Hayes & Associates Inc., Corvallis, Ore.; Hershey and Bernie Lerner with Automated Packaging Systems, Streetsboro, Ohio; and Nick Wilson with Morrison Container Handling Solutions, Glenwood, Ill.

“The entire Pack Expo community is invited to the Packaging Hall of Fame reception,” said Maria Ferrante, vice president of education and workforce development for PMMI, in a statement. “In addition to honoring these distinguished leaders, it provides scholarships for students in packaging programs around the country. It’s a very powerful way to support our industry.”

Proceeds from the reception will benefit PMMI’s Packaging Education and Training Foundation, which offers scholarships for students in two- or four-year packaging programs.


Show planning

Attendees also will have the opportunity to attend educational sessions during Pack Expo. The following is a sampling of the sessions from the beverage track of the conference:

  • PET Packaging for Beverages — Current State-of-the-Art and What Factors will Drive Future Commercialization: Presented by Scott Steele with Plastic Technologies Inc., this session will focus on the materials, properties, process and end uses of polyethylene terephthlate (PET) packaging. In addition, it will examine the sustainability trends, bio-based developments and recycling efforts that make PET a viable long-term packaging option.
  • Introduction to Flexible Packaging for Beverages: Michelle Parikh with Materials Engineering & Packaging LLC will introduce attendees to the types of flexible packaging available and how these materials are manufactured. The filling and seaming processes will be detailed with attention given to categories of beverages suitable for flexible applications. Package properties that are of specific importance to the beverage industry will be highlighted.
  • Packaging Hall Sanitation Best Practices: Mike Lammers with Diversey Inc. will discuss best sanitation practices for fillers, conveyors, warmers, coolers and environmental surfaces in a beverage packaging plant. Specifically, he will discuss cleaning and sanitizing techniques, the impact of air quality and maintaining package integrity as it passes through the packaging hall.

Other relevant courses include the following:

  • Measuring the Impact of Reusable Packaging on a Company and Community’s Sustainability Efforts: Presented by Bob Klimko with Orbis Corp. and Eric Fredrickson with, this session will detail how Alameda County, Calif.’s StopWaste program has helped area businesses make the switch to reusable packaging solutions, benefiting the community and making a positive contribution to the area’s environmental sustainability efforts. Attendees will learn how to analyze their systems to accurately compare and evaluate packaging options and will gain best practices in reporting and measuring the environmental impact of reusable packaging.
  • Quantifying the Emotional Response to Packaging: Donna Sturgess with Buyology Inc. will examine why packaging causes an emotional response, how to leverage this emotion and provide examples of successful packaging.
  • PAC NEXT “A World Without Packaging Waste”: Nina Goodrich with PAC Next discusses the company’s initiative to unite leading organizations across the packaging value chain to collaboratively explore, evaluate and mobilize packaging end-of-life solutions, including economic recovery of discarded packaging that leads to improved reduction, recycling, re-use, upcycling, composting, energy-from-waste and other emerging solutions. This session is aimed at retailers, consumer packaged goods companies, package converters and waste management.
  • The International Packaging Press Organization’s Global Packaging Trends Session: Presented by the International Packaging Press Organization, this session examines the key trends and opportunities for the North American packaging industry by looking at trends in Asia and Europe.
  • Packaging Next Life Solutions: Presented by James Downham with PAC – The Packaging Association, this session highlights innovative solutions from PAC and TerraCycle to eliminate packaging waste. This session is aimed at retailers, consumer packaged goods companies, package converters and waste management.
  • QR Code — The Latest Strategy for Product Protection: Presented by Robert Sherwood with Sekuworks LLC, this session will explain why quick-response (QR) codes are popular, how they can connect verification, authentication and track-and-trace systems, and how they can be leveraged by all stakeholders in the packaging supply chain to protect the brand and product authenticity.
  • It’s Your Packaging Line… How Do You Gain a Competitive Advantage Using Your Data?: David Habib with Markem-Imaje will discuss the latest trends in capturing data from packaging line equipment that can help take the guesswork out of line efficiencies, improve competitive advantage and protect brands from expensive recalls and diversion.
  • 10 Things You Should Know About Manufacturing and Supply Chain Efficiency: Sriman Banerjee with GlaxoSmithKline points out 10 things that manufacturers should do to build ideal supply chains.
  • How and Why Transport Packaging Must Improve: Dan Balan with Intraqq Consulting Group will explain the issues transporters face and offer cost-effective transportation solutions.

 For more information about Pack Expo International 2012 or to register, visit BI