Interpack still scheduled for 25 February to 3 March 2021

Change of leadership but no announcement of digital fair

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interpack 2021
Thomas Dohse project director of interpack since beginning September Photo interpack

On 9 September 2020, Messe Dusseldorf announced that Thomas Dohse is the new leader of interpack in his capacity as project director since the beginning of September. He follows Bernd Jablonowski, who rose to the managing board of Messe Düsseldorf as an executive director.

Dohse has excellent know-how and connections within the global packaging industry and the related process industry. He has been part of the interpack team at Messe Düsseldorf since 2005 and led interpack 2017 on an operative level as deputy director. During this period, the fifty-year-old father of three supported many formative themes for interpack, such as Save Food and the special shows under the innovationparc label. These are now also successful at the international events within the scope of the interpack alliance, which will also be led by Dohse in the future.

Due to the Corona pandemic, the upcoming interpack in Düsseldorf was postponed from its original date in May 2020 to the following year. It will now take place from 25 February to 3 March 2021 and continues to be fully booked.

Comprehensive hygiene plan for the 2021 trade fair

Messe Düsseldorf says it relies on a comprehensive hygiene concept to protect exhibitors and visitors. “interpack is the most important event in the international packaging industry and, especially in times of crisis, provides crucial stimuli in order to build a successful future for the companies involved. Therefore, we give our all to do justice to this responsibility and simultaneously guarantee the best possible protection of the health of the people coming to our trade fair center,” emphasizes Thomas Dohse.

According to the interpack press release, the hygiene plan has already proved that it lives up to its motto: “PROTaction – Back to Business” with Caravan Salon, the first trade fair at the Düsseldorf trade fair center after the Corona break. After selling personalized tickets exclusively online before the trade fair, extensive hygiene measures shaped the concept’s implementation on-site. Those interested can find details on www.interpack.com.

Our view – thinking beyond postponements and exhibitions

We are well aware that for the organizers and Dusseldorf city, the exhibition business is a significant revenue earner. However, while drupa, which was also postponed from this year to April 2021, has already said that it expects fewer international visitors and is adding a digital or virtual show to the physical event and calling it a hybrid show.

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging and especially in India. While there are various levels of constraints to visitors from most regions and countries, in India, we have not only the highest number of new cases each day, anywhere from 75,000 to 100,000, but also an economic recovery that may be characterized as gradual.

Why only a hygiene plan, and why not a digital or hybrid strategy?

It is unlikely that Indian exhibitors or visitors will realistically take part physically in the postponed interpack 2021, which is even earlier than the shortened drupa 2021. Apart from the virus itself, even if it subsides in Q1 of 2021, there are travel protocols, including airline operations, visas, quarantines, and the overall risk that is personal and puts populations at risk on both ends.

There is also structural racialism visible already when Indian engineers are invited to install machines overseas. There is no reason to believe that Covid-19 testing and quarantines will not apply to international visitors to interpack 2021. These will be needed to make sure that the fair is safe. Thus just as a virtual drupa 2021 had to happen, interpack will most likely have to bite the bullet and become a hybrid event. Welcome to the new normal.

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Naresh Khanna
Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

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