A record-breaking PACK EXPO International (Nov. 6–9; McCormick Place, Chicago) and co-located Pharma EXPO 2016 opened its doors to attendees seeking new technologies and insights from 2,500-plus exhibitors over 1.25 million net square feet of exhibit space, according to show producer PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

Sustained industry growth bolstered an increase in show participation, as PMMI’s 2016 State of the Industry (SOTI) Report forecasts U.S. shipments of packaging machinery to reach $8.5 billion in 2020. The SOTI infographic reflects this 2.4 percent CAGR.

“We are excited to welcome the industry to this record-breaking edition of PACK EXPO International and Pharma EXPO. Growth in packaging is fueled not just by plant expansions, but also by the need to update operations, creating smarter, faster, safer, flexible and more sustainable lines,” said Jim Pittas, senior vice president, PMMI. “In a time when innovation is critical for success, professionals across a wide range of industries attend PACK EXPO and Pharma EXPO because they know these shows provide the platform, education programs and connections they need to uncover new technologies to grow their business.”

The shows offer several guide post destinations, such as The Materials and Containers Pavilion, The Processing Zone, The Reusable Packaging Pavilion, The Food Safety Summit Resource Center and the largest ever Innovation Stage program. This year it includes 71 sessions of free on-floor education at four stages to help attendees find the new solutions and insights they need with greater efficiency. The latest addition to the long list of convenience-enhancing features is the NextGEN Networking Fair, taking place in the Education and Workforce Development Pavilion (North Hall, Mezzanine) today, Nov. 6 from 3–5 p.m. The event aims to connect both supplier companies and consumer goods manufacturers with student talent.

In addition to increasing participation and an expanding list of show features, PACK EXPO International and Pharma EXPO 2016, produced in partnership with the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering, ISPE, also boast the largest ever Partner Program, with 31 associations and 11 international pavilion organizers from all reaches of the processing and packaging communities. Included are the Contract Packaging Association, the Brazilian Packaging Association, Japan Packaging Machinery Manufacturers, the International Dairy Foods Association and the United Fresh Produce Association – just to name a few.

With so much to see, attendees looking to make the most of their time on the show floor can use the “My Show Planner” function, accessible on both show websites, which helps professionals find suppliers, key technologies and educational opportunities. With this tool, they can make on-site appointments with exhibitors and formalize their schedule for an efficient, customized experience at North America’s largest processing and packaging event this year. Another way for attendees to make sure they get the most out of their visit to the show is by downloading the mobile app from either the Apple Store or Google Play. With the app, attendees have all event information at their fingertips, also including, floorplans, exhibitor listings,

conference sessions, special events, new products and product categories, as well as the ability to plan an agenda, taken notes, and even get directions through the show halls in McCormick Place.

Registration for PACK EXPO International and Pharma EXPO 2016 is still open on-site for a fee of $100 for attendees. On-site registration can be completed at three separate locations in McCormick Place (West Building – Level 3; North Building 228 – Level 2; Lakeside Center Lobby – Level 2) and runs through Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 2:30 p.m.