Recording a GDP record growth rate of 9% for the fiscal year 2007–2008, India has emerged as the second-fastest big emerging economy in the world. As its manufacturing and retail industries continue to attract global attention, a strong focus on the country's packaging sector is developing.
Currently, India's packaging industry stands at roughly US$23bn and is growing at a blistering pace of close to 20% per year. In the next five years, the sector is expected to triple to around $60bn.
Yet in spite of such growth, the market requires significant developments before it is anywhere near solidifying its position on a global scale.
While Indian packaging machinery exports are growing rapidly, the country still only has a per-capita packaging consumption of less than $15, compared to the US average of $100.
With a strong reliance on manual labour and a market dictated to by a weak transport infrastructure, experts suggest the packaging industry must embrace new technologies in order to consolidate its position.
Aware of such factors, this year's India Packaging Show in New Dehli brings with it a strong emphasis on uniting the various segments of the country's industry. Joining together seven established niche industry shows, event organisers Print-Packaging.com have revised their approach following the exhibition's modest debut in 2006.
"Much like the industry itself, the packaging exhibition scene in India has been fragmented and lacked focus in recent years," says Anil Arora, president of Print-Packaging.com. "Previous exhibitions have not marked the distinction between end user packaging, converting, package printing and corrugated packaging."
"In fact, some packaging shows were lumped together with commercial printing while other segments such as end-user packaging drifted towards wide ranging shows targeting the food, pharmaceuticals and plastic industries," he adds.
Last year, PrintPackaging.com doubled the size of the exhibition to make it the largest packaging event in India. The enlarged format included the presence of the India Converting Show, India Flexo Show and the India Corrugated Show. By integrating these separate entities, the organisers believe the event is now geared towards a more relevant range of exhibitors and visitors, which will encompass a wide range of industries from pharmaceuticals to textiles.
"We now attract a larger quantity of exhibitors without diluting the overall focus of the visitor from packaging," says Arora. "It allows the end users to visit the packaging exhibition while the printers and converters visit the three other shows. The exhibitors also benefit from attracting visitors who have interests beyond their niche."
Held on 7–10 August, the 3,600m² exhibition hall will include a vast array of companies offering packaging machines and equipment, materials and services. This year, however, the focus is on automation.
Automation represents a key transgressor in the packaging world, enabling companies to enhance productivity and supply-chain efficiencies. More importantly, it allows greater integration for companies within the global manufacturing ecosystem.
"In 2008 we have identified automation as an essential concern for the end user," says Arora. "We already had several players in the automation sector exhibit in 2007 and by introducing a new brand within this year's packaging show – India Automation Show 2008 – we hope to focus on the trends and concerns of this segment."
Of such companies exhibiting within the automation section of the show, Exor India has high hopes for this year's event. The company manufactures and distributes industry technology such as HMI touch-screen panels PCs.
"One of the reasons we exhibited this year was the event's strong focus on automation," says Taresh Lamba, head of sales and marketing, Exor India.
"This is the first time we have exhibited at a trade show in the North of India. The industry is rapidly growing and we believe our range of operator terminals is well suited for the current market focus on automation."
Alongside the growth of automation, India's corrugated packaging segment has witnessed a significant evolution in recent years. With over 4,000 corrugated board and sheet plants across India, the market is responsible for directly and indirectly employing over half a million people in India.
While the industry is currently converting about 2 million tonnes of Kraft paper into corrugated boxes, prices of corrugated sheet and converted boxes have remained low due to overcapacity, manual operations and low productivity. Transport constraints and high freight costs have also added to the problem, forcing small to medium-sized corrugated box plants to remain within proximity to customers.
The India Corrugated Show 2008 will address these concerns by examining future trends such as the development of large automatic plants. Print-Packaging.com believes there will be an increase in the number of automatic plants within India in the future, which will be able to meet the new demands for high precision boxes with attractive graphics and large integrated production capacities.
It believes the industry will subsequently have a knock-on effect for the flexible packaging market, which currently constitutes 20% of the total packaging market. In the India Flexo Show 2008, attention is paid to flexography printing, which the event organisers believe will witness enhanced interest as a result of the rise in corrugated boxes. "The flexible packaging market is forecasted to grow from its current 1.1 million tonnes to 3.3 million tonnes within the next five years," says Arora.
Alongside this, the India Converting Show 2008 places a prominent perspective on new technologies for some of the region's smaller players. In the last few years, larger converters in India have embarked on a period of modernisation and entered into competition with major global market players. This change in environment has placed pressure on smaller companies to invest in newer technology or risk being acquired or phased out.
Such is the fast pace of development within India's entire packaging sector, Print-Packaging.com has a kept sharp eye on planning next year's event as well.
"Going forward in 2009, we are bringing all the shows in the bouquet together under an umbrella brand called PackPlus; we will be well-positioned to offer a total packaging, processing and supply chain event," says Arora.
"It will be divided into four distinct zones and will encompass two new events – India Retail Show and India Logistics Show. We are expecting a 50% growth compared to 2008."
The 2008 India Packaging Show is set to display the growth and innovation in the country's packaging market, addressing trends and future prospects, an exciting time for all involved.