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Valerio Soli, President of IPACK-IMA: Bring and Pursue Innovation at the Show

The 2022 edition of IPACK-IMA is just around the corner. Taking place in Milan from May 3 to 6, the event marks the return to presence for 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 Srl, 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 will we find more than in the past at IPACK-IMA?

PACK-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 EUR 8,435 million 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 of the sector based on connectivity, customization, digitalization, automation and remote control have been the ones to benefit most. All this is reflected in the many solutions that will be on show 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 to up to and technologies to meet the needs of the entire confectionary sector. IPACK-IMA will also focus heavily 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? 

2021 was a year of great change 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 of primary importance for the industry and primarily for material manufacturers who have invested heavily in research and development in a green perspective, responding to brand owners’ commitments to a circular economy. These are all issues that have become essential when it comes to packaging and that will be fully developed at IPACK-IMA.

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 a great deal of 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 that of 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 with the support of Ucima, which will focus on sustainability in the packaging supply chain.

IPACK-IMA is not only about packaging. What other product sectors will be represented?

IPACK-IMA will not only showcase the most innovative packaging solutions: processing technologies will also play an increasingly important role. Visitors will find the most advanced solutions, from kneading machines, weighing systems, flour milling, cleaning and storage systems, industrial baking systems for bakery and other food products, dosing machines, pressing machinery, 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 optimisation 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, on which you are focusing so much? 

We are working on the incoming of carefully profiled buyers from abroad, a theme our platform has always focused on. Therefore, we are very confident, thanks also to an improvement in the global health situation. Our Association, Ucima, is also making a 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 interested in our technologies at IPACK-IMA. Moreover, IPACK-IMA offers its professionals 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.

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, government measures in Italy have 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 the right time. IPACK-IMA is an incubator of ideas and, above all, a great business connector.