After almost two years as Editor of Converting Today, Packaging Today, ContractPacking and Packaging & Converting Intelligence, I am moving on ‘to pastures new’, as they say.
People often ask me, ‘What is converting exactly?’ and I have to say it’s not as easy to answer as you would think. Printing, in all its guises – gravure, litho, flexo and offset – is of course quite a large part of it; and all the ancillary products and services that go with them, such as web inspection. But there are some areas that are more ‘grey’; for example product security measures, which touch both converters and packagers.
Converting is the backbone of the packaging industry – supplying materials, folding cartons, labels and much more. Often, the price of buying converting machinery is incredibly high, but the industry still continues to invest.
Experts estimate the worldwide revenue of the packaging market to be over US$560 billion – that’s 50% more than a decade ago. Paper and board make up around 38% of the different packaging materials. And with markets opening up in Asia, this is set to increase at a galloping pace over the next few years. At present, only 20% of food is packaged in China, as opposed to 80% in Europe. There is huge potential ready and waiting, so converters will have to keep up with the pace if they are not to be left behind.
The world of converting continues to turn, and has been if not ‘recession proof’, then it has suffered much less than a lot of other industries out there that are struggling. Packaging is often vilified because it creates waste, but the reality is that we need packaging to protect food and alsom other products from damage or contamination. But it is also an attraction for the eye, and with the fabulous choice of inks, finishes and materials that are available today, the sky’s the limit in terms of creativity for packs.
And the ingenuity of those involved in developing materials has come to the fore, responding to the recent E.Coli outbreak that caused misery to thousands, and even some fatalities. Spanish company Derprosa has produced a polypropylene film that has added antibacterial properties to its Coextrudate and Antifog films.
It is said to be 99.9% effective against the bacteria. I have learnt a lot about the world of converting during my time on Converting Today, and I have had a lot of fun on the way. It has been a great industry to be involved with, and I hope that some of you I have met will keep in touch.