Success begins with meetings
During the fair, visitors got acquainted with the offer of nearly 80 major exhibitors from the sector of gastronomy, cosmetics, chemistry, pharmacy, automotive, electronics, transport and production, who presented their services in as many as 10 thematic zones: PACKAGING, LABELLING, ECO, E-COMMERCE, MACHINES, COMPONETS, PRINT FINISHING, POS & DISPLAYS, LUXPACK, SERVICES. Among the exhibitors there were companies that have been present at Packaging Innovations for years, as well as those that participated in the event for the first time. - For us this is a very relational trade fair, so in terms of image we cannot imagine not being here. I must admit that many customers who are sometimes difficult to reach come directly here and then we establish cooperation. So this is a strong trade fair for us in terms of attracting new customers. We manufacture ecological packaging components, and our main production is paper for filling parcels and all kinds of boxes, blotters - everything connected with ecological packaging. We never complain about boredom at our stand, because there is always something going on. - Patrycja Bylak, COO of Rbeco, who was at Packaging Innovations for the third year in a row, summed it up. 

As well as the exhibitors with many years of experience at Packaging Innovations, there were also those who took part in the exhibition for the first time. - As an exhibitor we are at Packaging Innovations for the first time, however we know the trade fair itself and we have visited it before as visitors. Our stand enjoys great interest, yesterday you could even see queues to our stand. At the fair we wanted to show what our capabilities are, and we have them very broad - from corrugated cardboard packaging to foil packs, bags. Basically we can do whatever the customer wants, so we wanted to show the full range of our capabilities and talk to customers, because not always everything is visible on the website. We are very pleased that we can show ourselves among many famous and great companies, so we think that the event is very good. - summarized Aleksandra Hutkowska, Business Partner Manager of Packhelp. 

Barbara Rodek, Sales Manager of Epacking is of a similar opinion - This is the first time we have exhibited at Packaging Innovations and our goal was to showcase packaging solutions. We are a Polish manufacturer and we wanted to show off our solutions and additionally gain new customers and distributors for our products. I think that we managed to achieve our goal because our stand and our products are very popular among potential customers due to the fact that we offer products that are ecological, innovative and constitute an alternative solution for plastic fillings.

Strong handshakes
The Packaging Innovations trade fair once again proved that face-to-face meetings are very powerful. - For us, there is a lot of value in taking part in trade fairs because we can meet our current customers in person and additionally get to know our potential customers and show our solutions live. I think, however, that this is the best form of presenting our products, when the customer can touch the product, try to pack the goods themselves - noted Barbara Rodek from Epacking.

The key role in business relationships is played by trust, which was emphasized by Bolesław Jasinowicz, Vice President of FANO - direct relationships certainly increase the trust of both parties towards each other and this is very important. When we can sit at the same table, talk and get to know each other then the cooperation goes even better in the end. So I think this is very important both in meetings at trade fairs and during face-to-face meetings when we visit our customers or when customers visit us. 

The pandemic has certainly left a very strong impression on the packaging industry. However, after months of lockdown, remote working and lack of business travel opportunities, everything is slowly getting back on track. - This is our debut at the fair. We gather experience, learn, observe and draw conclusions for the future. We are pleasantly surprised, we had a lot of visitors and we hope that it will continue in the future. We appreciate the face-to-face contact. You can get to know each other, talk. The people who visited us at the stand were eager for this direct contact. People want to meet, they want to talk and get to know each other. It's not the same as via e-mail, phone or webcam, so I personally appreciate it very much - said Piotr Modzelewski, Commercial Director of the Ekorol Printing House. The power of meetings is also appreciated by Justyna Kierzkowska-Grzyb, Marketing Department Manager in Aniflex - We have done online versions, organised various types of webinars, but in my opinion nothing can replace face-to-face meetings, when a person can see and touch a given product.
We promote eco solutions very strongly and it is difficult for us to sell ecological solutions containing various recycled elements without showing them on the products. So this is probably the greatest value of meetings at our stands - the fact that we can not only tell the customer about what we have, but also simply show them.

Changes, challenges and upcoming trends
The key word for the past edition was - change. The role of trade fairs is changing, as well as consumers' expectations towards packaging. In both cases the choice is becoming more and more conscious. As noted by the exhibitors, the trade fairs are currently visited by more specific visitors who are looking for new solutions. The same is true of packaging, which is expected to be more than just an attractive design. The pandemic and the geopolitical situation have had a great impact on the market. There have been new challenges faced by companies producing and distributing packaging. An increase in raw material prices, logistics problems, EU regulations, led by the Single Use Plastic (SUP) directive - the Packaging Innovations trade fair showed " as if by hand" what the industry is living through. - The pandemic has changed the way we communicate. For example, focusing on cosmetics, we had shopping malls, stores, and now we are seeing a change in how consumers order. What used to be the norm in the far east, where stores are showrooms and purchases were made directly online anyway, is starting to work more and more among European customers, so here we are seeing a change in distribution and perhaps ordering of the product by customers, our customers. As far as we're concerned, generally the influence of recycled materials has changed. This trend started before the pandemic, and it is continuing at the moment. There are still some challenges, such as the availability of recyclates approved for contact with food, but we will certainly not stop this change - said Tomasz Rathman, General Manager of the Otwock branch of Berry Global. According to Robert Rogalski, Chief Sales Specialist of Arexim, the challenge that the packaging industry has been facing for some time is logistics. The increase in transport prices, lack of availability of containers or even drivers. Sometimes it is difficult to find transportation to deliver something in Europe or Poland and this, in my opinion, is the biggest problem for our customers and suppliers who struggle to deliver something on time, in proper quality and also at proper price. Bolesław Jasinowicz from the FANO company also shared his opinion on the challenges facing the industry - ecology, rules and regulations imposed by the European Union, the lack and price of raw materials. The industry is in a difficult post-pandemic situation, during the war in Ukraine. Some directions previously indicated in the face of the current situation have been disrupted and supply chains broken. We are in a completely different reality. 

Young artists and new ideas
Every year the Student Zone arouses great interest among visitors. It was no different during the 11th edition of the competition, which aims to give a chance to young designers taking their first professional steps. On the first day we met this year's winners. 
- In the Graphic Design category, the first prize went to Małgorzata Kosicka from Politechnika Bydgoska for her design of packaging and labels for craft beers / Bydgoski Zakład Piwa Architektoniczny.
- In the Functionality and Form category, the first place was awarded to Milena Bruska from the Technical University in Bydgoszcz for her packaging design for an educational toy.
- In the Impression category, the first place was awarded to Wojciech Zabel of Politechnika Bydgoska for the project Case Island/packaging for a school kit for children.
In addition, in the category of Distinction received Natalia Stanislawska from the Agricultural University in Krakow for the project Starch-chitosan film with curcumin / biodegradable intelligent packaging.

The sponsor of the award was FANO company - for the second year in a row we are the sponsor of Student Zone. I think it's important to support young creators and that's what we're trying to do. What caught my attention was that with today's focus on multi-colored packaging, the packaging presented in the Student Zone was subdued and environmentally conscious. Two or three colors were enough to complete the packaging, emphasized Bolesław Jasinowicz from the FANO Company.  

The fair is about impressions, emotions, conversations, but also the demanding work of all those who take part in the event. - Time flies faster at the trade fair, 8 hours at the fair is definitely more exhausting than 8 hours at a stationary job, but that's probably what it's all about - to be intense, to generate interest, to be able to talk to people - pointed out Piotr Modzelewski of Ekorol. The reward for the hard work are pockets full of business cards, which in time turn into new contracts.