As the Total Processing and Packaging Show ends, exhibitors and visitors will need to assess what they gained from being there.
Some, remembering those halcyon days of a decade or two ago, may say it's only half the show it was. However, for some exhibitors and visitors it was their first experience and it will be important to find out what they thought.
Manning the IOP: The Packaging Society stand it was interesting to note just how many designers enquired about how they can better understand the materials and constructions used for packaging products. One wanted to see samples of carton and corrugated designs but was disappointed there were so few exhibitors within this category.
One reason for well-established packaging companies not attending may be that they see more growth opportunities in emerging markets and target much of their efforts to servicing large UK blue chip accounts. They may thus feel no need to show their wares in the UK.
To encourage budding designers, the IOP invited to Total pairs of design students from Swindon College, Sheffield Hallam University, Somerset College of Arts and Technology and Yeovil College who were given a daily design brief to source pack materials and constructions to create a pack to fulfill the brief. The four designs were judged by Unilever's Richard Parker and Andy Cole - and congratulations to John Jarvis and Gareth Rabbitts from Yeovil College who won with their design for a new shelf pack for pasta sauce using an induction heatsealed closure and bottle. The brief was set by Bapco Closures.
Understanding the relationship with product and pack design is a key part of the packaging process. In 2005 The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining launched the Materials and Design Exchange (MaDE), an initiative to facilitate development of design skills to exploit the benefits of new materials and processes, and a new magazine for those involved in either the UK's design or materials communities has been published to bring together product designers and materials developers to improve innovation and competitiveness for UK businesses. For copies contact Sumeet Bellara. T: +44 (0)20 7451 7315; E: firstname.lastname@example.org.
So how do we move forward? Well it's certainly good to listen and talk, and if you didn't go to Total, perhaps you should the next time. Hopefully then our design colleagues will locate the answers they couldn't find this time.
Finally, thanks to everyone who entered the prize draw and congratulations to Neil Fowell from Bapco Closures who won the bottle of champagne.
By Ian Morris