The packaging industry enjoyed something of a showcase year in 2013, with major events taking place including the well-established likes of Total, Drinktec, Pack Expo Las Vegas, FachPack and Labelexpo Europe, with the year rounded off by the K show and Labelexpo Asia.
The increased numbers reported by most, if not all of these shows, and others, are a reflection of an industry alive with a high level of innovation and development - driven by the desire to manufacture that all-important competitive advantage.
Looking to 2014 and beyond, in its report The Future of Global Packaging to 2018, released in December 2013, market analyst Smithers Pira says the global packaging market was worth $799 billion in 2012, an increase of 1% on 2011. In its overview of the report on the world packaging industry across 50 countries, the analyst says sales are projected "to increase by 3% in real terms for 2013 to $824 billion".
And Smithers Pira predicts annual growth of 4% per year to 2018 in the world packaging market, with sales to reach "over US$1 trillion by 2018". Such figures suggest that there are still real opportunities to be had, for those companies looking in the right direction.
Glancing over the industry calendar for 2014, it's interesting to note a significant number of events will be taking place in developing markets, and in other long-haul destinations, where perhaps the potential of the latest advancements in packaging technology to help prevent waste and reduce harm to sensitive environments is now being fully recognised.
In Russia, Moscow will host Upakovka/Upak Italia (28-31 January) and RosUpack (17-20 June). The potentially huge Chinese market will see Sino-Pack/Pack Inno in Guangzhou (3-5 March) and Chinaplas Shanghai (23-26 April), complemented by ProPak Vietnam (4-6 March).
Elsewhere, Cape Town hosts Label Summit Africa (10-11 March), while Colombia will have Label Summit Latin America (29-30 April).
And looking east, Print & Packaging Arabia will be in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (16-18 September), with Eurasia Packaging Istanbul in Turkey (18-21 September).
While sustainability will of course remain high on the agenda for all manufacturers, there's no doubt that the collective mind of the industry will also be on the cost of energy. It's an issue fast approaching critical in all the EU nations - particularly those where the European packaging industry currently thrives - compared to competitor economies where new energy sourcing technologies are already gathering pace.
With the FIFA World Cup in the summer to distract everyone, there's more than one reason why 2014 could also prove to be a highly eventful one...
David Longfield, Deputy Editor