Interview with Valerio Soli, President of Ipack Ima Ipack Ima is Back!
The 2022 edition of Ipack-Ima is just around the corner. Taking place in Milan from May 3–6, the event marks the return of exhibitors and visitors, serving as a meeting point for demand and supply of processing technologies, packaging solutions and materials. Valerio Soli, President of Ipack Ima, tells us about the many meanings of an exhibition that brings together the various stakeholders in a complex production chain.
Four years after the last edition, and after so many changes and developments in the industry's production processes, what can one expect at Ipack-Ima?
Ipack-Ima will be the most important processing & packaging exhibition to be held in attendance in 2022 after a long time, a truly long-awaited and necessary return for the industry. I can confirm that the packaging industry has never stopped during this period, with a total turnover of 9,239 million dollars and an 8 % increase over 2020 – according to the latest Ucima data – and, even in the most difficult times, it has always been close to its customers.
The ability of companies to reorganize themselves in terms of safety and flexibility has made it possible to continue production. Companies with a vision which is based on connectivity, customization, digitalization, automation and remote control have benefitted the most. All this is reflected in the many solutions that will be showcased at the exhibition by an industry that has interpreted the new challenges.
Which sectors and markets have you designed this edition for?
Ipack-Ima is an exhibition specializing in processing and packaging technologies for the food and non-food sectors, but food & beverage remains a primary market. Four business communities are dedicated to this sector, from pasta and milling—the ‘core’ industry for the show—to liquid food and beverage—to which we will devote an entire pavilion—to fresh food and ready meals and up to technologies that meet the needs of the entire confectionary sector. The trade show will also focus on the non-food sector, covering pharmaceuticals and nutrition, beauty & personal care, chemicals & home care, and industrial & durable goods.
From your point of view, how is the world of packaging changing, a sector whose speed of reaction to the constraints imposed by the pandemic is emblematic…
The year 2021 was challenging for the entire packaging industry. Unprecedented increases in raw material prices and component shortages have created unexpected challenges. However, it was also a year full of opportunities. The ability of packaging to preserve the taste, flavor and integrity of products, even over long periods, was rediscovered. Above all, the safety of packaging in preventing contamination during handling was appreciated. Developments related to sustainability are also becoming crucial factors for the industry and primarily for material manufacturers who have invested heavily in research and development in a green perspective, responding to the brand owners' commitments to a circular economy. All these issues have become essential when it comes to packaging and this will also be visible at the fair.
A special focus will be devoted to packaging materials, which are able to meet the requirements of sustainability and rationalization of production: how will they be highlighted at the fair?
We will pay attention to packaging materials, which will be strongly represented at the show by over 200 companies active in this segment. Ipack-Mat is the Ipack-Ima brand that will make it easy to identify these companies, which will offer innovative and eco-friendly materials in a dedicated area located in hall 5. The topic of packaging is constantly confronted with product safety and preservation. Ipack-Ima, together with the Italian Packaging Institute will tackle this by discussing research laboratories, certification institutes and centers specialized in FCMs compliance standards in the special area Ipack-Ima Lab. We will also host the ‘Packaging Speaks Green’ international forum, organized by Pack-Media and supported by Ucima, which will focus on sustainability in the packaging supply chain.
This year, Pharmintech will take place in conjunction with Ipack-Ima. What will be the added value of this synergy?
A new aspect of the next edition will be Ipack-Ima's focus on the chemical-pharmaceutical sector. Our partnership with Pharmintech will allow us to make the most of technologies and solutions for this sector. These two events will thus combine to create a unique exhibition moment, a synergy built on the demand for processing and packaging technologies, a great added value for both exhibitors and visitors. This year, Milan will be the meeting point for the world's most important players in the Life Science industry: from pharmaceuticals to para pharmaceuticals, from nutraceuticals to cosmeceuticals, from medical devices to biotechnologies.
The layout was conceived to amplify business opportunities for the three communities –Pharma & Nutritional, Beauty & Personal Care and Chemicals & Home Care that will be located in Hall 2, with the aim of enhancing Pharmintech's identity and boosting synergies among the exhibition segments representing the show’s competitive advantage.
Ipack-Ima is not only about packaging. What are the other product sectors that will be represented at the fair?
Ipack-Ima will not only showcase the most innovative packaging solutions but will also exhibit processing technologies that play an increasingly important role. Visitors will find the most advanced solutions here such as kneading machines, weighing systems, flour milling, cleaning and storage systems, industrial baking systems for bakery and other food products, dosing machines, pressing machinery, and devices for the high-quality processing of liquid and pasty products such as creams, gels, balms, toothpaste and other cosmetic products.
There will also be space for technologies linked to handling systems on processing and packaging lines, for the optimization of internal transport and production processes. Coding & tracking technologies, end-of-line and protective packaging solutions applicable to all production sectors complete the exhibition offer.
What are your expectations, especially in terms of visitors and arrival of foreign buyers? What will be the benefits offered to professionals by the ‘MYipackima’ project?
We are inviting carefully profiled buyers from abroad, a theme our platform has always focused on. Therefore, we are confident, thanks also to an improvement in the global health situation. Our Association, Ucima, is also making great effort in this direction: thanks to the good relations we have with ITA – Italian Trade Agency, we will be able to host selected professionals from many target markets that are interested in our technologies at the trade show.
Moreover, the fair offers new digital networking opportunities, thanks to ‘MYipackima – the innovative match making platform that allows exhibitors and buyers to profile themselves and find the right contact person to talk to and develop new business with, before, during and after the show. I can proudly say that to date, with over 1,000 exhibitors, Ipack-Ima offers a truly attractive and complete technological panorama, with innovations and previews of future production trends and a full calendar of specialized events.
How is ‘The Innovation Alliance’, the format created in 2018 that marked the collaboration between Fiera Milano; the organizers of individual events and trade associations, evolving?
After a successful debut in the last edition, the great project ‘The Innovation Alliance’ will again include Ipack-Ima in 2022 in conjunction with other exhibitions dedicated to instrumental mechanics: Intralogistica Italia, focused on goods handling and warehouse management; Print4All, dedicated to industrial printing and converting technologies and the first edition of Greenplast, focused on the plastics and rubber supply chain with a special spotlight on environmental sustainability, energy efficiency and circular economy.
In view of the positive development of the pandemic situation, what measures do you envisage to ensure the success of the event in attendance?
Ipack-Ima is an event not to be missed by companies wishing to showcase their technological innovations to industries eager to discover, learn and develop new business relations. The in-person presence is guaranteed by protocols that have been extensively tested at various times during the resumption of trade fair activities in 2020 and 2021. In Italy, and at Fiera Milano in particular, it is now standard practice to ensure the safety of exhibitors, journalists and buyers who crowd the pavilions of the exhibition center. Also, the Italian Government has significantly eased restrictions on visiting international trade fairs.
I conclude with a message to exhibitors and visitors: bring and pursue innovation at the show because Ipack-Ima is the right place and is being held at the right time. The trade show is an incubator of ideas and, above all, a great business connector.