From the Front Line FebThe UK contingent at the BPF pavilion at Arabplast
This year marks the BPF's 80th anniversary. One of the big themes we will be pushing will be the importance of overseas business development. This was classically illustrated by our first big event of the year - our BPF pavilion at the Arabplast fair in Dubai from 7th- 10th January. Our verdict was that it was well worth the effort.
Although official visitor numbers haven't been released, we were advised provisionally by one of the show organisers, Al Fajar Information & Services, that the show attracted approximately 30,000 visitors, up from 18,860 the last show in 2011.
Satish Khanna, Al Fajer's General Manager told us that the numbers reflected the rapid increase of plastic consumption in the Middle East. Per capita consumption of plastics in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is now as much as 39kgs annually, 33 percent higher than the world average and almost eight times higher than India. Whilst the show doesn't register the same volume of visitors as the giants in India or China, the quality of visitors is noticeably high with many expressing a serious willingness to invest in high quality machinery and specialist materials.
We believe Arabplast is a great place to access not only Middle Eastern customers but also African, Indian, Chinese, Pakistani and Bangladeshi users. We think there are huge opportunities for our member firms out there, not only through large infrastructure projects such as the World Cup 2022 in Doha, but also in the packaging and recycling markets amongst others. CR Clerke sold the three vacuum forming machines they had on their stand. Overall, machinery to the value of £3 billion was sold during the show.
Striking a similar note, when the recent Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ report, ‘Waste Not, Want Not’, came out last week, most commentators used it to justify the role of packaging and missed the fact that it was pointing up some very significant overseas business opportunities for UK plastics packaging manufacturers.
The report was all about the fundamental need for innovative new technology in developing countries to help decrease food wastage. It’s pretty obvious to people with experience in these regions that a lot of the current packaging solutions available there leave much to be desired. The report itself highlighted that in ‘ India, for example, 21 million tonnes of wheat annually perishes due to inadequate storage and distribution, equivalent to the entire production of Australia. In neighbouring Pakistan, losses amount to about 16 percent of production’. Readers of the BPF’s ‘UK Plastics Industry Capability Guide’ will pick up how, in terms of design, innovation and sustainability thinking, the UK plastics packaging sector is in pole position internationally and a force in the move towards a low carbon society. It’s in a great position to help.
Staying with India, packaging there currently accounts for the largest consumption of plastics at some 24 percent of overall consumption. On top of this, the Indian government has signalled a willingness to open up its market to major foreign retailer investment highlighting the need for external parties to bring in new technology such as cold chain logistics systems, warehousing facilities and packaging technology. This will assist in reducing the rate at which food perishes before it reaches the market – currently at around 40 percent per annum and could lead to huge opportunities for UK plastics packaging manufacturers wishing to enter the market.
If you are tempted to join the BPF on its future overseas ventures then space is still available in our Pavilions at Chinaplas (Guangzhou, China, 20th-23rd May 2013) and Plastivision (Mumbai, India, 12th-16th December 2013). UK Trade & Investment grants of £1,800 are available for both shows.