Industry celebrates being back face-to-face at this year’s Propak Africa and The GAPP Print Expo

As the packaging and related industries celebrated being back at an in-person trade event, there was a palpable energy and vibe at this year’s Propak Africa exhibition – co-located with The GAPP Print Expo – which took place from 8-11 March at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec. The show offered four days of unparalleled access to fresh new thinking and the latest cutting-edge machinery, products, consumables, systems and services.

Over 200 exhibitors pulled out all the stops to deliver a world-class show and over 9,750 visitors grabbed the opportunity to source new products and find out about the latest trends and developments across the printing, packaging, labelling, plastics and food processing industries. The show attracted over 360 international visitors, many of whom were from across west, east, south-central and southern African countries.

Propak Africa provided a much needed platform for buyers and sellers to connect face-to-face again after two years of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was an opportunity for industry networking to take place again, for the onsite sales of machinery, to build business partnerships and to launch new products and services.

‘It was a really good show,’ says Mark Anderson, portfolio director at Specialised Exhibitions, organisers of the show. ‘Propak Africa, together with co-locates The GAPP Print Expo, Pro-Plas Expo, FoodPro Expo and Pro-Label Expo, delivered an excellent four days of exhibitors showcasing latest products, technology and innovation. Thousands of visitors attended the show and met with exhibitors across the two exhibition halls. The general feeling of exhibitors was that although the quantity of visitors wasn’t quite as high as it was before Covid, the quality of visitors was absolutely outstanding. So this is a major success; it took the show to the next level.’

Anderson continued by saying that it was great to see trade exhibitions back after a two year break. ‘What we witnessed over the four days is that business events can take place in a safe controlled environment. All Covid-19 regulations were followed. The face-to-face engagement has been sorely missed. Walking around the show on the last afternoon, it was great to see all the big sold signs on the machines. Exhibitors want to see a return on their investment and the business transactions concluded at the show are a true testament to the success of the show.’

Exhibitors also expressed their satisfaction with the business-to-business event. While there were fewer visitors than the previous Propak Africa in 2019, they felt the quality of visitors was excellent, with many visitors from Africa looking to buy products and machinery. This year’s show allowed for local innovation and technology to shine through and was a valuable platform for marketing and business for these industries.

Sherwin David, Marketing Manager at Future Packaging says that it wasrefreshing to engage with customers again, face-to-face,’ and that ‘Propak Africa is a value-add to our business, and a big part of our marketing strategy. It positions us strategically to engage with different industries.’

Nishara Naidoo, Head of Operations at Inpakt SA was a first-time sponsor of Propak Africa, and says that it was ‘worth what we paid a million times over in the visitors and queries we have received. The show is smaller but the quality of the visitors – and leads – has more than made up for that. It is our target market perfectly. It’s been a phenomenal show.’

‘After two years hiatus it is great to be back and good to be able to engage not only with customers face-to-face, but also with the industry at large,’ says Marc Black, Managing Director at Morgancoat. ‘This is the beauty of a platform such as Propak Africa that brings together industry and customers.’

Richard Rügheimer, General Manager at Syntegon Technology SA felt that, ‘while the show is smaller, we are very impressed by the level of innovation on the floor,’ and says that they ‘sold a brand-new Bosch Packaging machine from the stand and Propak Africa has been the perfect platform to get our new brand out there.’

‘We had many visitors from Africa, with good leads, especially from Zambia, Nigeria and Malawi,’ expressed Michelle Penlington, Marketing and Executive Sustainability at Polyoak Packaging. ‘The visitor profile was a highlight of the show this year.’

Eptech has been at Propak Africa since 1979 and Director John Binedell says they are ‘very happy to be back. It has been a good show with quality visitors, and interest from Cameroon and Zimbabwe that look promising.’

Daily free-to-attend seminars with subject experts delivering content rich industry-related presentations added further value to the visitor experience. These were live-streamed to enable those who could not attend the show in-person to also benefit from the seminar content.

As the doors closed on Propak Africa 2022, many of the exhibitors were already signing their contracts to exhibit at Propak Cape 2023 and Propak Africa 2025.

‘Propak Cape will be taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 24 to 26 October 2023, and a lot of the exhibitors that have been at Propak Africa will be exhibiting in Cape Town,’ says Anderson. ‘Then Propak Africa 2025 will be running from 11 to 14 March 2025 at the Johannesburg Expo Centre. We are looking forward to another two excellent shows.’