Interpack 2014, Disneyland for packaging & labelling

One could not help but feel impressed when walking past hall after hall, filled to the brim with all kinds of stands & machinery, at the 2014 edition of Interpack @Messe Düsseldorf.


(photo take from

If you tried to write down the various sectors connected to the packaging and labelling industry you would need a very large sheet of paper. Think how much longer that sheet would have to be when adding all the various services and products that are imbedded to each sector then you can get an idea of how diverse Interpack was.

Interpack can say with a certain pride that they are the largest Packaging & Labelling trade fair in Europe, and as a venue Messe Düsseldorf is a perfect host. The fair ground is vast and more than once I regretted not having brought some kind of two-wheeled transportation with me.

It quickly became apparent to the players in the P&L markets that being present at Interpack was the place to be. Those who had been reluctant with their budget and presence at the fair must have quickly regretted not having done more. Often we hear that the general trend at fairs is that companies spend less and less on stands and are leaving the heavy machinery at home. This at any rate was not the case at Interpack. Conveyer belts were running, automated arms were moving, and packages of all magnitudes were being wrapped, moulded, labelled, scanned, stored and much more.

Many stands were often very visual and left a lasting impression. I believe that one of the main reasons of this positive vibe was the angle the exhibitors took towards the actual end-results of their products or services. The n°1 question from the visitors at a fair like Interpack is still ‘what can you do for me?’ It comes down to deciding what story you as a business or supplier want to tell.

Bringing the focus towards the finished product or production process, leaves visitors with a very clear idea of what a certain product or service could do for their own business. A focus and perception that is too often neglected or even forgotten by many businesses, who are in my opinion too focused on a specific technical aspect of their product or process, instead of making clients & prospects dream of its applications.

A particularly interesting feature @ the Sappi stand was the use of Sharingbox. This customized digital photo-booth added a nice extra dimension to their stand. The tool allowed visitors to snap a picture of themselves, send the image to their mailbox, print it on paper (which ties nicely into Sappi’s activities) and share it on facebook. A perfect balance between gathering information on your visitors and leaving people with a lasting impression. 


And with an end result like this, who could possibly complain?


Louis De Nolf

The packaging arena is undergoing a paradigm shift

This tweet was posted following the visionary keynote presentations and workshops taking place during the three-day Packaging and Converting Executive (PACE) Forum in Brussels last week. This PACE Forum was well attended by brand owners, packaging vendors and consultants such Procter & Gamble, Grupo Bimbo, Reckitt Benckiser, Arla Foods, Seymourpowell, Crown Packaging, …

The industry is indeed having to become much more proactive in responding to changing demands and expectations. The shift identified in the tweet is gaining momentum thanks to four major trends and influences as described by Michaël Nieuwesteeg - Managing Director NVC Netherlands Packaging Centre who was chairing the event.

Key trends include collaborative innovation, globalisation supported by workflow management, a changing distribution model and sustainable development.

All about interaction and collaboration, the event promoted the benefits of improved supply chain communication and knowledge sharing. It also discussed how globalisation is making packaging design challenging with regional differences and regulations increasing the opportunity for mistakes and making managing brand consistency and quality standards complex.

Suggested solutions included brand owners, packaging and technology suppliers, finding ways to collaborate to innovate as well as using cloud management for easy recognition of errors and increased speed in reportability and approvals. John Kuijt, Brand Innovation Solutions at Esko took to the floor with an incisive presentation on 3D packaging design for increased shelf appearance and explained the technologies on how to get there.

As for changing distribution, the example of the largest bakery in the world, Grupo Bimbo’s desire to promote a new cheese snack was discussed. It chose Justin Bieber as the face of the product because he has fans worldwide but did not have a distribution channel in place in China. So the company turned to to fill the gap. The lesson is that packaged product manufacturers have to prepare for Web Retail Packaging (WRP) ensuring that they can meet global online demand also via new distribution channels

The final trend making headlines was sustainable development and the ability to think beyond a single reuse of a product. The emphasis was towards a cradle to cradle approach that reduces the impact of the product from its inception.

Above all, the event provided an excellent networking platform to interact with the brand owner community as 7th year in a row guest speaker and delegate Arno Melchior, Global Packaging Director at Reckitt Benckister told us. This was confirmed by first time attendee Mike Horsten, Marketing Manager EMEA Mimaki when he said: “These kinds of events are perfect platforms to get acquainted, explore and discuss new application possibilities.”

So to keep apace with the expectations of the packaging market and to put the necessary changes in place make sure the 10th edition of PACE is on your calendar for next year!

by Ingrid Van Loocke, duomedia

Flexo Day 2013: flexo goes from strength to strength

If you thought flexo printing might struggle in the downturn, it’s time for a re-think. Flexo Day 2013 – staged in Bologna, Italy end of November – attracted 330 delegates from across Europe.

Flexo has progressed massively since the early days, when it was dubbed aniline printing, due to the aniline dye inks used. Today flexo is something of a scientific art, and has established itself as the printing technology of choice for companies looking for high-impact shelf appeal for a wide range of packaging applications, including corrugated boxes, folding boxes and labels etc.

There are many reasons for flexo’s growth in the graphics industry – not least the leap in quality. It’s now possible to produce such vivid, detailed images and texts that flexo  has become a viable alternative to gravure printing.

Flexo also provides great repeatability and productivity, offering users excellent consistency throughout high-speed print runs. Then there’s the excellent flexibility, with companies using the technology on a wide range of substrates.

Another major plus of flexo is the way it slots right in with digital printing, enabling users to harness the collective benefits of these technologies and create a customized packaging solution.

With flexo making such great strides, there has been an inevitable boom in applications. Davide Deganello of the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) at Swansea University, spoke about the new opportunities presented by flexo. WCPC is a research centre dedicated to improving the industry’s understanding of printing and coating processes, and creating innovative manufacturing processes with its global industrial partners.

The WCPC specialises in functional materials, plastic electronics and bio printing, and RFID for labels and packaging, using ‘thin films’ – multi-layered structures made of special material that interact together to create the device.

Flexo printing is the best-suited printing technique for such devices because it’s more economical than chemical vapour deposition (CVD), while inks are flexible and produce top-quality results. 

Deganello discussed the WCPC’s most recent project, Specific – an academic and industrial consortium led by Swansea University, with Tata Steel as the main industrial partner. The aim is to develop functional coated steel and glass products for roofs and walls that generate, store and release renewable energy, transforming buildings into power stations to deliver environmental and economic benefits.

To coat the substrates, printing technologies must be compatible with material in reels – rotary screen printing for thick film, and flexo for thin films.

Another interesting area highlighted by speakers was the creative element of the workflow that creates a flexo-printed product: the brief should consider costs; the lowest quality acceptable (because you don’t always  need top quality); production methods of the different elements; and the ability to guarantee repeatability.

Overall the event was a big success and really underlined how far flexo has come. With the global packaging market worth 400 billion dollars in 2012 and 180 new flexo machines installed in Italy between 2008 and 2013, flexo clearly has a very promising future.

Barbara Bernardi

Some useful links:

Guest blog - A brave new world for labels

As an industry, we often focus on the challenges facing us. The economic conditions of the last few years have brought with them substantial trading difficulties, and there are other pressures too including the development costs associated with creating ever-more sustainable products.

However, these challenges represent only one side of the picture. The innovations that have continued to take place – both in technology and in business processes and structures – mean that ours is an industry well positioned to continue long into the future. Big opportunities are still out there, and drawing lessons from what has happened in the past is one important way to make the most of those opportunities.   

Resisting commoditization

Label commoditization is a significant issue across the industry. Design and functional packaging trends are impacting label production and leading to a more minimalistic approach – with simpler designs, fewer colors and less sophisticated finishing. When combined with brand owner pressure on label costs, the result can be a very basic approach to labeling and packaging. This can go to the extremes: who could have imagined, for example, the emergence of totally blank packets for cigarettes?

Converters and materials suppliers have to keep a close eye on this trend. My own view is that it presents us with a great opportunity for innovations – for example functional labels and reclosures.  There is an incentive to create products that add value to the printed label, going well beyond its original functions of information, identification and decoration.

One of the most interesting areas where this is evident, and where we are already adding considerable value, is in the evolution of multi-functional labels.  

The potential of smart labels extends far beyond the original tasks of a label. A whole range of smart label materials and converting solutions has been introduced over the past ten years, yet the industry seems to have been slow to exploit the opportunities that are now available to improve food safety, brand marketing, brand protection, traceability and more. So, how can we better meet these customer needs? 

Interactive labels are one example of something that is very interesting to brand owners at the moment.  We are about to see a transformation in the way that brands, through the vehicle of packaging, engage with consumers – linking them directly to brand content via a simple tap with a smartphone. Near Field Communications (NFC) has been around for some time, but is rapidly gaining momentum thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices.  By 2014, 570 million phones will feature NFC technology, effectively changing the retail shelf experience. A typical scenario involves a consumer walking down the aisle of the local market, tapping a food product and instantly generating an e-coupon while also seeing a quick and engaging brand story.  When putting the jar into a shopping cart, suggestions also appear of complementary products from the brand.


This is a brave new world for labels, and brand owners are actively seeking partners in the label industry who can make it all happen. What can at first appear to be a barrier to growth, or even a threat to existing products, can often become a new source of revenue.

Rob Verbruggen

Senior Marketing Communications Manager | Avery Dennison Label & Packaging Materials Europe


Does anyone want to bring back the Brown Paper Bag?

Watching trends in the printing industry I cannot help but notice there is significant ongoing confidence and growth in the packaging sector.  Seemingly born from retail market forces, demographics, changing lifestyle choices and increased consumer consumption this growth is stimulating hope within the print community which has to be good news.  The food and beverage markets in particular are huge and driving brand owners to compete for shelf impact and the latest designs.  This in turn is pushing equipment suppliers to develop new materials and machinery pushing the boundaries of possibilities for packaging design and eye catching effects.

At the recent EFIA  Awards (EFIA is the UK trade association for the Flexographic Industry) - around 450 suppliers, printers and their customers, the brand owners and designers cheered on the winners.  The significant rise in technological advances and quality of flexo print on packaging is making these awards especially competitive.  The software and pre-press side of the process has advanced to amazing levels.  Print on packaging is reaching photographic quality standards on all types of substrates from labels to flexible pouches through to tissue paper and corrugated board and simi-rigid plastics. Also, on the night we were shown a virtual supermarket on the large screen behind the stage with the EFIA prizes flying off of a virtual shelf. 

At the Packaging Innovations Show  a few weeks ago there was a buzz in the air and instead of spending a morning, I decided to stay over and filled two days comfortably with a mixture of learn-shops, debates, research and networking in the two halls at the NEC.  Attended by analysts, print title editors, publishers and their ad execs, the printing community were there to find out ‘the latest’ and join the party. This year the Great Packaging Debate was followed on the second day of the show by a Great Print Debate!  The subject heading was a take on the Benny Landa quote ‘What can go digital will go digital’  - or will it?  This provoked lively comments on digital print in packaging and turned into a well informed and thorough discussion on raising the bar for packaging print and the role of the brand owner and his expectation.   Unilever’s Matt Daniels and Karen Grayley from Waitrose both gave strong signals of their company’s clear intent to achieve the highest standards of packaging in quality and sustainability.  Jo Francis chaired the debate with her usual panache and understanding.

Run by EasyFairs, the Packaging Innovations show has grown over the last few years and has become increasingly popular.  There are two shows a year - the Feb event at the NEC in Birmingham and the October event at the Business Design Centre in London.  This year EasyFairs MD, Matt Benyon is quoted as saying that the huge interest from the print community and the subsequent print side of the show reflects the industry analysts’ forecasts and strong support from the associations.  What I also find interesting is that we are seeing a visible demise in the world of trade shows suffering from economic forces, tight business controls and uncertainty – but here we see a show which is growing in popularity and positivism.

Packaging in whatever form it presents itself will continue to be indispensable.  Supermarkets, High Street Stores, Brand Outlets, Pharmacies, Fast Food and Coffee Shops and importantly online ordering – all have to deal with how they package their products.  What is  great for the consumer is the competition which stimulates creative, exciting and colourful packs.  Fresh food to deep frozen, from gifts to clothes and shoes, from toiletries to medicines and heavier containers to transport the packs all use cartons, corrugated boxes, flexible pouches, glass or plastic containers – and they all need to be printed!  Printers have been printing packaging for many years but the difference we are seeing now is in the sophistication as the competition grows in this market to achieve effective, functional and sustainable packaging.

It’s all good stuff for the printing industry – does anyone really want to bring back the brown paper bag!

by Annie Hotton

How to Label The Future?

Labelling the future is a challenge for the label industry, in the face of the exceptional change that is happening on many fronts. A developing palette of label technologies and alternative options; the ‘cloud’ business environment; the urgent need for succession change in SMEs;  making the decision to stay local, serve a specialty market segment, or go international;   maturing geographical markets versus the emerging economies… 

Technology innovation

Technology innovation is changing the face of the entire print industry;  and as commercial print dwindles in the face of downloadable reading matter, packaging print is growing exponentially. It is the key area where the consumer relies on a product’s physical brand image to confirm its quality, reliability, and desirability. Today’s modular presses make it possible to use multiple ‘traditional’ print processes – UV flexo, screen, foil blocking – in the one machine pass – as well as digital print for personalisation, barcoding, etc. What is more, the new-generation digital label presses deliver high-quality print results too; and today’s sophisticated digital pre-press solutions make design, proofing, and even product prototyping fast and easy – even if the client is thousands of miles away. Short-run work and multi-versioning of generic brand labels are now firmly part of a label converter’s remit. There have never been so many options.

Lean and green

At a time when brand owners are concerned to keep costs as low as possible, optimise profits, and still present a ‘green’ image to the consumer, lean manufacturing and sustainable practices must also be central to the label converter’s activities.  

E-commerce has long been a key to the effective running of the relationship between labelstock supplier and label converter, and today’s ‘back office’ at the label converter can be seamlessly integrated with the front end. Using today’s most up-to-date systems, which match those of the customers, is key.

Where next?

Specialisation is one route: there are successful label printing companies serving specialist industries. Alternatively, companies can look to extend their reach from being a ‘local’ supply base, to cross-border trading and, then, an international presence - achieved either independently or as a result of establishing partnerships and alliances with like-minded companies in other countries. Finally, of course, there are mergers and acquisitions – today an area where we are seeing very strong activity.  

Label – the future?

Whatever is to come, the future will still need a label. The intrinsic function of a label is to identify the contents of a package. We have come a long way from the handwritten ‘label’ on a brown paper bag (probably the first example of direct print – a labelling method that still has currency today!) There are wet-glue labels, self-adhesive labels, shrink and stretch sleeves, in-mould labels… and now we can learn about a product through scanning QR code on its packaging.   But we still have to be able to pick the right product from the retail shelf – and only a physical label of some kind can enable us to do that.

Lut Verschueren

Based on article by FINAT.


Leading brands and suppliers convene at Packaging And Converting Executive (PACE) Forum 2013

We’ve returned from the Packaging And Converting Executive (PACE) Forum for suppliers and brand owners and the number-one concern among delegates was abundantly clear – how to extend the shelf-life of their products.

The issue is brought into sharp focus when you consider this fact: around half of all food produced in the US and Europe is never consumed. This is a staggering amount of waste – particularly when there are millions of starving people in other parts of the world. There was agreement that on-demand production is crucial for addressing the problem, as well as adding smart tags to food packaging to let consumers know the food is still safe for consumption. This was just one of many issues covered at the PACE networking event, which brings together brand owners and suppliers from across the packaging supply chain to discuss the trends and challenges shaping their industry. 

The list of brands attending the event read like a ‘who’s who’ of FMCG manufacturers – Kraft Foods, Nestle, Heineken, Danone, Nokia and P&G, to name but a few. duomedia was also invited because of our strong track record of engaging and promoting suppliers and brands in the packaging market.

Celebrating its eighth anniversary, this year’s PACE Forum was set in the beautiful location of Prague, Czech Republic.   

Other hot topics discussed at the event were the need to produce sustainable packaging and prevent water wastage – and how this can be achieved across the whole supply chain. But while reducing the amount of packaging is good from an environmental perspective, it poses brands another challenge. Packaging is about much more than just protecting food. It’s also about ‘shelf impact’, tempting consumers to buy, and brand differentiation. 

Delegates also commented on the difficulties of operating in a global marketplace, where there are many regional differences and growing consumption in emerging territories. In India, for example, keeping food refrigerated remains a challenge, while in China there are different regulations and laws regarding food production and wastage. 

There was a consensus that the various companies involved in the supply chain must improve communication and become more efficient, so they can not only meet brand owners’ needs, but also deliver high-quality to consumers without adding to the current mountain of wastage.   

There are no quick fixes. But it was very heartening to hear how suppliers and brands owners are committed to developing solutions that are not only commercially viable, but also sustainable and socially responsible.

 Lutt Willems


Emballage 2012 - 40th International Exhibition of Packaging has closed its doors

We’ve just returned from the 40th edition of the International Packaging Exhibition (Emballage) in Paris and it proved to be quite a show.

The event attracts all the major players operating in the packaging industry. There was no shortage of innovative solutions on show, addressing the needs of all areas of the packaging chain – from raw materials to finished products, as well as related machinery and services, such as marking-coding, labels and printing systems.

Around 1,500 exhibitors took part in the show, which ran from 19 to 22 November. As always, it proved the ideal backdrop to deliver presentations, participate in forums, buy equipment and sign strategic partnership deals.

When it comes to the main trends shaping the packaging industry, many exhibitors identified a definite increase in shorter print runs and turnaround times. They also reported greater demand for personalization, an increasing need for finishing solutions to stand out from the crowd, and a growing requirement for eco-friendly packaging solutions.

Among the communication innovations of the 2012 edition,  we applaud the live TV studio organized by GM Consulting and the live web TV organised of French online publication Graphiline, but also many conferences dedicated to the future of packaging highlighting this year’s themes on safety, functionality, packaging, ergonomics and cost control.

No less than five duomedia customers presented their latest innovations at the show and we were there to set up stand interviews between the press and the company representatives. Four duomedia ladies attended the show to make sure every ran smoothly for the customers. Luckily we also had some time for pictures and checking out what the customers were bringing to the show.

Atlantic Zeiser presented its latest solutions on product tracing, combating counterfeiting and grey market protection. A panel of experts from Esko and Kodak discussed the theme « Packaging printing : new technologies for integrated workflow and improved quality » on the Emballage Web TV channel. (you can click here and see the whole debate). Videojet previewed two CIJ printers and focused on the availability of machines allowing manufacturers to produce uninterruptedly while ensuring the integrity of coding. Finally, X-Rite displayed its spectrophotometer range including the new eXact, an instrument for measuring rapidly color accurately.

All in all another Emballage success story! See you in 2014 in Paris!

Annie Garçon


Packaging Innovations, UK - speaking (of an) opportunity

Following duomedia’s blog ‘Why it pays to have a PR rep in your corner at trade shows’  I got to thinking about the recent Packaging Innovations Show at London’s Business Design Centre and why it had been such a great success for companies. As the blog says, trade shows and event support are a key PR activity that can provide a good return on investment.

Every client is unique. They have different goals and aspirations, different products and perspectives, all aimed at different audiences and promotional needs.  The PR rep has to gauge the market and current trends to make the right call and look after the clients’ best interests.  Among the most recent trends is an increase in seminar and forum programs to educate visitors and impart knowledge as well as samples and networking.

At Packaging Innovations 2012, Kodak created a buzz with tweets and images but what really made a difference was the speaking opportunities.  Two speaking slots also enabled a more rounded presentation of the business advantages of using Kodak’s Packaging Technology - its unique digital imaging system Flexcel NX and Kodak Spotless, an intuitive colour processing system.

A Forum with Packaging Today was moderated by magazine editor Felicity Murray.  The panel led by Jonathan Moore, Kodak UK Packaging Sales Director, included Della Lawrence, Design Director of jkr Global, Keith Mollan of Pulse Media, a key Kodak customer and Digital Packaging Solutions provider and Jonathan Smith, Brand manager of Birds Eye Iglo.  The 80 attendees showed a tangible interest in the cooperation between the technology supplier, the brand owner, the designer and the packaging printer and the discussion profiled them all as partners with a mutual goal.

The Packaging News discussion, Printed Electronics on Flexible Labels, was a cutting-edge speaking opportunity on packaging technology -  something new with a world of possibilities! Hosted by Philip Chadwick, Features Editor at Packaging News, Jonathan Moore again led the discussion with Kodak customer Andy Hewitson of Reproflex3, Chris Ellison of printer OPM and Chris Jones of Printed Electronics manufacturer Novalia. The big attraction was a mock up sample label that when pressed, played several different orchestral instruments in harmony on an iPad App. The session was a winner and subsequently R3 and OPM had crowds around their stands at the show asking how the Kodak technology worked and what it could it do for their business.

Putting the client on the stage, so to speak, and with his customers, is a key plan to profile a company working with clever products and innovative technology. The PR rep can advise and help make it happen! There is a market out there waiting and wanting to know -  how is it done? How can I grow my business?  A lot of companies are happy to talk about it - are you?

Annie Hotton - duomedia

Left to right - Jonathan Smith (Birds Eye) - Della Lawrence (jkr Global) - Lottie White (jkr Global) - Jonathan Moore (Kodak) - Felicity Murray (editor of PT) - Keith Mollan (Pulse Creative)

Picture courtesy of EasyFairs UK & Ireland

Annie Hotton - duomedia

Du 19 au 22 novembre 2012, le salon international EMBALLAGE accueille le monde entier à Paris et rend hommage à toute la filière pour ces 40 éditions d’innovations et pour les 40 à venir !

Annie Garçon de duomedia s’est rendue au musée des Arts & Métiers à Paris pour la conférence de presse du 20 juin, qui a donné le coup d’envoi de la 40ème édition du salon Emballage. Pour Véronique Sestrières, Directrice du salon, « le fil rouge de cette 40ème édition est « PACK SMART- Innovations & solutions : Everything you need to kNOW ! ». EMBALLAGE 2012 sera avant tout un formidable espace de valorisation de toutes les intelligences de la filière ». Pendant 4 jours, l’industrie de l’emballage expose l’ensemble de ses innovations et l’ampleur de son savoir-faire, à travers des solutions répondant à toutes les attentes de la chaîne de l’emballage, de la matière première jusqu’au produit fini, sans oublier les machines de conditionnement et les services connexes, tels que le marquage-codage, les étiquettes et les systèmes d’impression.

A 5 mois de l’événement, plus de 1100 exposants ont déjà réservé leur stand (dont 48 % d’internationaux) et rencontreront les 89 000 visiteurs attendus.

Salon généraliste par son offre multi-secteur, EMBALLAGE renforce sa stratégie de « salons dans le salon ». Grâce à une communication sectorielle renforcée on et off line en amont du salon vers les grandes communautés business utilisatrices, des outils de visite spécifiques, des conférences dédiées et une signalétique ad-hoc dans les halls (B&L, Food, Luxe, Beauty, Heath, Multiindustry), cette nouvelle édition propose à chaque industrie une offre sur mesure. Ce rendez-vous 2012 présentera une exposition inédite « I love pack – since 1947 » pour célébrer cet anniversaire. Pack Innovation réunira la quintessence de l’innovation des exposants à travers une cinquantaine de nouveautés sélectionnées parmi les 300 déclarées. Un plateau TV en live – EMBALLAGE TV – sera aussi dédié à toute l’actualité de la filière durant ces 4 jours avec des invités prestigieux ! Enfin, le cycle de conférences Pack Vision consacré à l’avenir de l’emballage mettra plus particulièrement en avant cette année les thèmes de la sécurité, de la fonctionnalité des emballages, de l’ergonomie et de la maîtrise des coûts, selon les cibles utilisatrices.

Parmi les clients de duomedia, Esko présentera ses dernières tendances, solutions et technologies pour aider la filière de l’emballage dans son métier. Découvrez-les en lisant l’interview d’Olivier Moeyersoms sur le site du salon :