CHICAGO — Just hours into Pack Expo 2014, event organizers said they already had almost as many attendees registered as they had during the entire show the last time it was in Chicago, in 2012.

Pack Expo poised to break attendance record“We see processing packaging as a kind of baseline for many industries,” said Kate Achelpohl, director of member communications for the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. “These attendance numbers are a good sign.”

The industry grew by 6% from 2012 to 2013, Achelpohl said, which analysts contend is a signal that the overall economy is on an up swing.

Roman Forowycz, chief marketing officer for Clear Lam Packaging Inc., said the buzz on the 1.2 million-square-foot show floor on opening day, Nov. 2, was that attendees are actually in buying mode instead of just window shopping.

“People are talking about making capital expenditures again,” Forowycz said. “That is good news.”

Representatives at other booths said traffic was good for the opening day and they expect it to get busier as Pack Expo runs through Nov. 5.

Chris Erbach, manager of marketing communications for Weber Packaging Solutions, said the company considers Pack Expo to be its “home show,” and not just because Weber is based in Chicago.

“People wait all year for this show. They come from all over the world,” he said. “When they are looking for equipment they know they can come here and see it all in one place.”

There are about 2,400 exhibitors at the show this year, with about 400 of them from the pharmaceutical industry because of the co-located with Pharma Expo this year at McCormick Place Convention Center.

Achelpohol said show organizers believe there is a kind of cross pollination will take place at Pack Expo this year as attendees from Pack Expo visit the Pharma Expo.

“The pharmaceutical industry has been doing some things for a long time that many food producers are just now thinking about because of FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act,” she said. “We think there will be some crossing of ideas from one industry to others because big pharma has been doing traceability and tracking for so long.”