The Pack Expo crowd on opening day began building in the morning and by day’s end, the aisles were packed in the South Hall of the McCormick Place.

CHICAGO — Pack Expo got off to a rousing start on Sunday, Nov. 2 at Chicago’s McCormick place in light of the fact that many exhibition halls were packed by the end of the day; attendees were literally bumping shoulders in the South Hall trying to make their way up and down the crowded exhibit aisles.

“I have to say, I’m pleased with the large number of people here on opening day—particularly since it’s a Sunday,” iterated the vice president of sales and marketing for a large East Coast-based equipment manufacturer as he gazed up and down the crowded aisle near his exhibit area just before he dashed off to join a meeting with representatives of a large international meat processor who were attending the show.

Pack Expo officials are hopeful that Pack Expo’s positive Mojo on opening day is a continuation of last year’s good tidings. In 2013, US packaging machinery shipments increased by 6 percent, to $7.9 billion; and a rise in retail-ready packaging (RRP) is changing the role of secondary packaging, according to the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), PACK EXPO’s owner and producer. PMMI released the findings of its 2014 State of the Industry: Packaging Machinery Shipments Study (SOTI) and 2014 Secondary Packaging Market Research Study Sunday morning during a press breakfast briefing conducted on site at PACK EXPO International and Pharma EXPO 2014.

PMMI’s member packaging machinery manufacturers provided data for its 2012 and 2013 shipments for this study; total US packaging machinery shipment estimates also incorporated projected non-member shipments.

“Total US consumption — an overall figure that includes imports, exports and domestic shipments — reached $9 billion in 2013,” says Jorge Izquierdo, PMMI vice president, market development. “Foods and beverages together continue to account for more than half of the shipments. This is consistent with what we’ve seen over the past 10 years.”

A magnificent stuffed bison turned many heads at the Arrowhead Systems Inc. booth on Sunday during Pack Expo at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

SOTI illustrated a consistent overall market while PMMI’s 2014 Secondary Packaging Market Research Study revealed a dynamic industry segment feeling the strength of consumer trends.

“In 2008, when we last conducted this survey, every company we spoke to said they were trying to reduce their costs and improve their sustainability ratings in secondary packaging, and retailers demanded those changes because of consumer preferences,” Izquierdo said. “In contrast, roughly half of the 2014 study participants say they’ve implemented those changes and are satisfied with the results.”

Secondary packaging’s role as a retail-ready packaging medium, however, is one of the most visible trends. “Retailers are asking for more shelf display containers and as a result, we’re seeing secondary packaging going directly from pallet to store shelf,” Izquierdo added.

The report further notes that changes in primary packaging are also driving shifts in secondary packaging. Food (45 percent) and beverage (50 percent) producers noted changes such as switching flexible packaging and light-weighting primary packaging are resulting in the need for stronger support from secondary packaging. The 2014 study also shows a decrease in RSC usage and corrugated fiberboard materials, and an increase in the use of recycled material content, overwrapped trays and shrink-wrapped pads.

In other news, PMMI announced on Oct. 31 it had purchased Summit Media Group Inc., publisher of Packaging World, Automation World, Healthcare Packaging and Contract Packaging. The final sale closed that same day, said Charles Yuska, PMMI president and CEO.

“We are quite pleased to welcome the Summit team to the PMMI family,” Yuska said. “Summit has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and its collection of industry publications and web presence will help us to further engage buyers and sellers. Combined with the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows, we’ll be able to help key players in the industry stay engaged all year long.”

“Summit and PMMI are both in the information business, and our strengths complement each other,” added Summit President and CEO Joe Angel. “I’m confident that together, we will create spaces that lead to conversations that make a difference to suppliers and customers up and down the packaging and processing supply chain. We’re thrilled to be part of it!”

As of Nov. 1, the Summit Media Group staff became members of the PMMI staff and will maintain their Chicago-area office.