Coming off another successful Annual Meeting, it’s clear from talking to members that supply chain issues remain a huge topic of concern as we clear the third quarter. Our PMMI Business Intelligence’s How’s Business Report serves as a nearly real-time analysis of the packaging industry. From Q1 to Q2, it reports that supply chain disruptions increased from an already astronomical 97 percent to an almost unheard-of 99 percent. It remains the most significant indicator that the impact of the pandemic is clearly not entirely in our rearview mirror and is the number one issue in our industry. The number two topic of choice may come as a bit of a surprise after the past year plus of constant orders and pent-up demand, but we are also hearing/seeing from business indicators that business is slowing a bit. Of course, any talk of slowing must be taken with a grain of salt for many in the packaging and processing sector, which saw record years in both revenue and orders.
This gradual return to normal is something that can be viewed as a good thing when framed correctly. Many PMMI members point to the leveling out as an opportunity to get caught up on current orders. While business was indeed good for nearly two years, it was so good that lead times became stretched into the future beyond what the industry is typically comfortable with. As long as it doesn’t last too long, the pause will allow more time for the supply chain to turn the corner, making it a perfect time to restock critical parts.
The evolving business landscape also sets the stage for the return of PACK EXPO International (McCormick Place, Chicago, Oct. 23-26) for the first time since 2018. Absence alone makes the return exciting, but it also presents the best opportunity in the world this year for packaging and processing decision makers to come together and flesh out solutions, plan future projects and simply reconnect with each other.
Recognizing the industry’s desire to reconnect, we have already set a new record for association partners, with 41 coming on board. Our Association Partner Plus participants also hold ancillary events and meetings in conjunction with the show as part of our new industry Meets program. These courses, events, conferences, and networking opportunities allow a more robust and comprehensive offering to the entire supply chain and continue our efforts to bring the whole industry together under one roof. This doesn’t even include our new Emerging Brands Summit occurring during PACK EXPO International bringing together new brands with experts in manufacturing and packaging to develop a blueprint to scale operations. This will draw those companies looking for ways to best produce and package new products and brands currently in production, looking to expand or scale up operations.
Exhibitors we have spoken to also expect a continuation of the recent trend seen at PACK EXPO Las Vegas, PACK EXPO East, and EXPO PACK Mexico of actual “project in the works” level leads vs. attendees just looking to see what’s out there. Attendee registration is open, and so far, we are seeing numbers at or above the 2018 show year-to-date. Although it’s too early to predict where we will end up, we know right now that buyers attending will have actual challenges they are dealing with in the hopes that our members and other exhibitors can offer timely solutions.
As a native Chicagoan, I know I can’t wait to get back to McCormick Place for PACK EXPO International, and I hope to see all of you there as well.