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11 & 12 October, Nekkerhal in Mechelen

Empack Mechelen 2017: Packaging trade fair takes on internet

Last week, on 11 and 12 October, the Belgian town of Mechelen held a new edition of the Empack packaging trade fair in the Nekkerhal. There were 185 stands in total, where producers showcased their packaging, labels and machines. A number of stand holders are also active in the fruit and vegetable sector.

Stand holders at the Empack 2017 in Mechelen.

Besides the general food industry, sufficient attention was given to packaging and machines that are applicable to the fruit and vegetables world. With lectures, an innovation centre, and, of course, stands, the Mechelen Empack 2017's organisers wanted to educate the visitors. Sustainability, biodegradable packaging, and the extension of shelf life were the main themes of the trade fair.

Internet versus trade fair
The responses of this sector's producers about the trade fair, were, in general, positive. They have, however, been less successful, especially the recent editions, including the Empack in Brussels. A number of participants gave the fair another shot this year after not attending for a few years. The reason for this was the reduced number of visitors over the past few years. This is attributed by many to the popularity of the internet. According to several stand holders, clients find it easier and less time-consuming to get information about packaging and machines via the internet, instead of actually going to a trade fair like the Empack. This trend is noticeable at numerous European packaging trade fairs.

The Nekkerhal in Mechelen.

Technology at the trade fair
Nadine Francus organised the Empack in Mechelen for the first time. She hears their arguments, but yet she emphasis the importance of a trade fair such as this one. "I feel good about this edition of the fair", she says. "There were about 3 200 visitors over the two days this year. There were about 2 800 last year, which is indeed quite a bit less. It is important for the trade fair to pay attention to innovations and changes. You must keep up with the times. This is also why we wanted to use the furnishings to create a more welcoming atmosphere, and introduce technology to the fair. Everyone who came in, received a badge with their information, stored digitally, on it. This badge was then read by a card reader at the stand that caught the visitor's interest. In this way, the stand holder and the visitor received each other information.

Now stand holders don't have to have a stack of business cards anymore. There was also a digital map with all the stand holders locations. These are the kinds of technological ways that enable you to distinguish yourself as a trade fair." 

Nadine Francus organised the Empack Mechelen 2017 for the first time.

Although the visitor numbers is a topic of discussion, Nadine points out that numerous stand holders see the importance of the fair. Those present said the attraction the trade fair holds, is that it is a meeting place. The face-to-face contact, touching the products, and getting answers to technical questions is a seen as the trade fair's greatest advantage.
Photo's: Andries Gunter and Joost Verdult

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