There is confidence in Russia about the year that has just begun: following a difficult period, dominated by political tensions, a drop in the oil price and a weak rouble, experts are now working on the assumption that the domestic economy will be moving out of recession. The World Bank is forecasting economic growth in Russia for 2017 too. Western companies are anticipating an upswing and see this as confirmation of their policy of maintaining their business contacts in crisis years as well. upakovka, the 25th International Trade Fair for Processing & Packaging and interplastica, the 20th International Trade Fair Plastics and Rubber, have now demonstrated in Moscow that this positive outlook for the future applies in particular to the plastics, rubber and packaging sectors and related processing industries. Developments in major consumption segments are leading to growing demand in the production of plastics and rubber products as well as packaging. Some 800 companies from 33 different countries presented their innovations at the SAO Expocenter exhibition site in Krasnaja Presnja from 24 to 27 January.
23,000 experts from all over Russia and from the neighbouring countries attended the two trade fairs. 20,900 visitors were recorded in 2016. “It is now paying off for the international exhibitors at upakovka and interplastica and that they have maintained their presence in Russia and have remained in contact with their business partners there”, concludes Werner M. Dornscheidt, CEO of Messe Düsseldorf. “They are benefitting now that business is gaining momentum again. The atmosphere in the halls was remarkably good, the exhibitors talked about extremely interested businesspeople who were keen to place orders too. Trade visitors take the unique opportunity that is offered here to familiarise themselves with the new developments on the world market and to negotiate directly with suppliers.”
There continues to be strong demand for western technology at Russian companies. And there continues to be a requirement for substantial investment: processes and product quality are in particular need of further optimisation in the manufacturing of consumer goods, food and packaging. The visitors were as a result very positive in their response to the wide range of different companies and the product innovations, which gave them a valuable insight into trends and future market potential. Both exhibitors and visitors approved of the new hall layout at the exhibition site (interplastica in Halls 1, 2 and 8, upakovka in the hall forum).
The high level of interest in innovative technologies at upakovka showed itself not only in the large stream of visitors, but also in new special thematic areas at the trade fair. The innovationparc, for instance, had a widely noticed premiere, after it had already established itself successfully at interpack in Düsseldorf. The Forum was well frequented on all the days of the trade fair, and visitors appreciated the large amount of information that was available on selected innovations and enjoyed the opportunity to discuss creative, forward-looking packaging solutions. One thematic area that was particularly popular was “75 Years of PET”, organized mainly by the food processing and packaging machinery association within VDMA (the German Machinery & Plant Manufacturers’ Association), with thematic support from the German Industrial Association of Plastics Packaging Manufacturers (IK). This is also where well-known big companies in the PET sector – such as KHS – provided information on current tendencies and trends as well as on recycling.
Substantial attention and media coverage was achieved by the official launch of the SAVE FOOD initiative on the Russian market. The Russian office of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), headed by Eugenia Serova, had invited senior officials from ministries and industry to look at issues of food losses and waste in Russia and to present solutions. Several companies that operate on the Russian market, including the Metro retail group, the Rus food bank, the agricultural group Olam and LavkaLavka, a co-operative of small and medium-sized Russian agricultural enterprises, had already expressed interest in the SAVE FOOD initiative during the run-up to upakovka. It has been estimated that up to around 25 per cent of all manufactured food is not consumed in Russia. Although this value is below the worldwide average of one third, it is still far too high.
When developing and organizing special thematic areas for upakovka, the Moscow trade fair organizers benefited from Messe Düsseldorf’s expertise, which the latter had bundled for all events in the packaging industry and the related processing industry under the label of the interpack alliance. Bernd Jablonowski, Global Portfolio Director of Processing & Packaging, is pleased about the success of the premières: “The two special thematic areas innovationparc and SAVE FOOD met with a large number of positive responses. Together with the convincing presentations of our exhibitors, they ensured a substantial increase in the number of trade visitors, despite a difficult competitive environment. This meant we clearly underpinned the importance of upakovka as a leading event in the industry. Working with our partners in industry, we will continue to do our utmost in presenting market-focused, forward-looking content to Russian trade visitors. upakovka 2018, for instance, will be dedicated, among other things, to the theme of Industry 4.0.”
The most important suppliers to Russian enterprises continue to be German manufacturers of food and packaging machinery. Vera Fritsche from the food processing and packaging machinery association within VDMA (the German Machinery & Plant Manufacturers’ Association) expresses cautious optimism about the current situation: “German engineering is still in demand. This was also reflected at this year’s upakovka. Russia’s food production keeps expanding, and Russian and international companies are continually investing in the development and expansion of local production capacities. After a fairly long lean period Russia’s demand for German-made food and packaging machinery picked up somewhat in 2016. During the first 11 months of 2016 Russia imported food and packaging machines from Germany valuing EUR 304 million, nearly 8 per cent more than in the same period of the previous year. German companies are more confident again. Quite a few of them concluded business deals at the trade fair, and many are expecting positive developments and follow-up business.”