• Pack Expo Las Vegas is now one of the largest trade hows in North America.
    Pack Expo Las Vegas is now one of the largest trade hows in North America.

Pack Expo Las Vegas is now one of the largest packaging and processing trade shows in North America, with 2300 exhibitors occupying nearly a million square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Centre. Although it's not frequented by as many Australians as a European show attracts, it is a significant show when it comes to trendspotting. PKN was there.

PKN has run a full report in the Nov-Dec print issue, which can be read here, as well as online coverage. In the meantime, here's a brief snapshot of what we experienced on the first two days of the show.

Todd Meussling
Fresh-Lock's Todd Meussling shows off an application of the 8000 Series

Key trends observed on the show floor and from discussions with exhibitors included a rise in cross-industry collaboration to deliver sustainable outcomes in demand by brand owners, namely compostability, fiberisation, digital connectivity, production flexibility and robotisation/ automation.

On Day 1, my first stop was at Fresh-Lock,  where I learned from Todd Meussling and John Athans about new compostable CRC closure technology and also the 8000 Series, a new line of closures for flexible packaging targeting circularity and waste reduction, designed to optimise the performance of emerging sustainable film technologies.

I popped past the APPMA | Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association stand, where Michael Moran and Denni Egan were hard at work promoting Australasia’s biggest ever trade show APPEX 2024 to a global audience.

APPMA CEO Michael Moran and marketing executive Denni Egan promoting APPEX 24 at Pack Expo Las Vegas.
APPMA CEO Michael Moran and marketing executive Denni Egan promoting APPEX 24 at Pack Expo Las Vegas.

Next, I stopped by Rotzinger Group where Nicolas Garcia told me about a new patented concept for pick and place that combines Demaurex delta robot technology with a Rotzinger Transver integrated buffering system.

Rotzinger's Nicolas Garcia
Rotzinger's Nicolas Garcia


On-demand packaging is booming: Adam Fray, Packsize
On-demand packaging is booming: Adam Fray, Packsize

Then in a quest to see what’s happening in the booming on-demand packaging space, I stopped by Packsize, where Adam Fray told me about the X5, the world-first fully automated erected box system. This machine will be on show at the upcoming APPEX 2024 in Australia.

Lunch break was a media conference led by PMMI: The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies where Jorge Izquierdo gave PMMI’s state of the industry report (looking at impacts of Covid and growth projections — signs are good) followed by WPO World Packaging Organisation president Prof Pierre Pienaar presenting his views on the top 5 packaging trends (sustainability; smart packaging; on-demand packaging; A-I; and nanotechnology.)

Afternoon highlights included the Tetra Pak launch of the first application of digital printing technology (developed by Koenig & Bauer) for cartons, adopted by market-leading US and Canadian cartoned water brand Flow Hydration, which is just rolling out trials, it’s not yet commercialised but prospects are exciting.

Over on the Amcor Flexibles stand, CEO of Australian company HMPS / ProPac, Mark Emmett and Amcor’s Peter Wright showed me the vertical form fill seal (VFFS) machine, developed by ProPac and customised for Amcor, used for liquid filling in large format bags, with over 100 installations in the US already.

Peter Wright of Amcor and Mark Emmett of HMPS tell Lindy Hughson about the ProPac Liquifilm VFFS technology.
Peter Wright of Amcor and Mark Emmett of HMPS tell Lindy Hughson about the ProPac Liquifilm VFFS technology.

On Day 2, the focus was largely fibre-based, with several innovations that stood out.

1. The Good Cup, a one-piece paper cup for hot or cold liquids with integrated lid and spout; it is easy to fold and assemble, with secure close feature. It is recyclable and compostable, and has already won multiple awards. It is now available in Australia, creator of the innovation Cyril Drouet tells me, through Roastar Coffee Packaging.

The Good Cup's Cyril Drouet (left) and team members.
The Good Cup's Cyril Drouet (left) and team members.

A paper bottle from fibre packaging innovators and collaborators CelluComp Ltd and RyPax caught my eye. It’s a moulded fibre bottle that incorporates Curran, a microfibrillated cellulose product made from the waste stream of root vegetables, which is mixed bamboo and bagasse. It has an interior coating to provide the necessary barrier. I’ll say this, it has a really smooth finish compared to other paper bottle prototypes I’ve seen. It’s relatively close to commercialisation, according to Christian Kemp-Griffin and Alvin Lim, who were on hand to talk me through the innovation.

Alvin Lim of RyPax and Christian Kemp-Griffin of CelluComp.

3. Scotch Cushion Lock was shown off by my fellow IPPO colleague, and Sustainable Packaging podcaster, Cory Connors in a panel discussion held on the Sustainability Stage. It’s a paper alternative to plastic bubble wrap, and as it expands it uses up to 60% less than bubble wrap to fill a box.

Cory Connors gives Scotch Cushion Lock the thumbs up.
WestRock's John Perkins talks Lindy Hughson through paper-based packaging innovation on show. 

4. On the WestRock Company stand (where, alas, they were not in a position to discuss the just-announced, pending merger with Smurfit Kappa) I was shown several fibre-based breakthroughs by John Perkins, which involved both machinery and material innovation.

One was the Canopy case wrapper that allows a case of cans to be over wrapped in recyclable barrier paper instead of shrinkwrap, and where an existing shrink tunnel line can be modified to integrate the paper wrapper.

Another was the development of wax-free wet strength barrier board for shipping boxes for fresh produce and seafood.

And there were also several variations of fibre options for carrying/holding bottles and cans, some with minimal fibre and others offering more branding real estate. Enduragrip is an especially sturdy handle for a heavy bottle duo.
(More details on all the above to follow in PKN Packaging News coverage in due course.)

Fibre aside, my plastic highlight for the day was catching up with the dynamic David Katz  founder and chairman of Plastic Bank. His social enterprise is now truly a global movement, with 39,000 recycling community members benefitting from a model where post consumer plastic is a resource that brings revenue to many in need.

Inspirational: David Katz, founder of Plastic Bank
Inspirational: David Katz, founder of Plastic Bank



Food & Drink Business

While quick service restaurants are not part of Food & Drink Business’ remit, we couldn’t resist this bit of good news. McDonald’s Australia and its long-term supply chain partner, Martin Brower Australia have launched its first electric delivery truck.

Global food and beverage solutions company, Tate & Lyle, has acquired nature-based ingredients company CP Kelco for US$1.8 billion on a cash-free, debt-free basis. Tate & Lyle said the deal will “significantly accelerate” its growth plans.   

While it’s common knowledge that a well-marbled steak makes for tastier eating, there’s no official international measure for what constitutes quality meat. MEQ CEO, Remo Carbone, puts the case for establishing a global standard to grade red meat.