DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — While supply chain discussions were no longer center stage at interpack 2023, held May 4-10 in Düsseldorf, Germany, baking companies and snack manufacturers are still attending large equipment shows ready to make decisions regarding equipment investment. 

“I believe we’re seeing longer lead times are forcing people to come to the shows ready to make decisions about investment,” said Kerwin Brown, president and chief executive officer of BEMA. “Baking companies are focused on solutions, and automation can increase quality, output and reduce labor — labor that can then be repurposed to positions that are more meaningful and less repetitive.”

The packaging show saw a robust international attendance, with many parts of the world represented, even from as far as Latin America. Messe Düsseldorf reported that about 143,000 people attended interpack 2023 with two-thirds coming from abroad. In addition to many attendees from Europe, the largest countries represented were India, Japan and the United States. Attendees had access to 2,807 exhibitors stretched across the 18 halls.

Major international trade shows are trying to resume their show cycles post-pandemic, providing companies many opportunities to see the latest in equipment technology. 

“People are making choices. They had PMMI, IBIE, interpack and iba,” Mr. Brown said. “Many of the bakers we talked to are having a hard time getting away from the plant, so they’re having to make choices about the shows they attend, who they bring and how long they plan to attend.” 

However, he did point out that each show is regional, which accounts for the robust attendance and why exhibitors are still finding value in showing up to get in front of different customers. But having multiple international trade shows is also seeing exhibitors thinking about booth size and whether or not they bring equipment to show. Equipment manufacturers who brought equipment sometimes brought less equipment, smaller equipment or no equipment. Those that decided not to bring equipment used videos and virtual reality presentations to showcase their capabilities. 

Packaging is often the last area of any baking company or snack manufacturer to automate, and that showed in the energy at interpack.

“Packaging is so nuanced with the need for flexibility for size, look, feel and so many other factors as well as a need for automated solutions. It’s why this show and PMMI are so popular and growing,” Mr. Brown pointed out.

After taking a backseat to food safety and throughput for the past three years, sustainability was gaining traction again both in conversations on the show floor, an education topic and innovations being showcased. 

“Sustainability will continue to be there,” Mr. Brown said. “The end user, Walmart, Bimbo are all prioritizing it, so I think that will be a continued thread. And I wonder how we can make that a bigger part of our show in 2025.”  

With an eye toward the next International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), scheduled for Sept. 13-15, 2025, Mr. Brown admired the efficient registration process and the ease of navigation through the trade show. 

“I thought 18 halls would have been really overwhelming, but it wasn’t,” he said.  

The next interpack will be held in Düsseldorf May 7-13, 2026.