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On Safari at Packaging Fairs around the Globe or even: Messe Düsseldorf goes Africa

From 4 to 10 May that time will have come around again: the world’s largest packaging trade fair, interpack, is just around the corner! But did you know we not only hold a trade fair here at our “homebase” on the topic of finishing processes and packaging? All our international events that focus on these topics are grouped under the “interpack alliance”. And there are quite a few! In addition to events in Moscow or Shanghai we are also in the starting blocks with a food packaging trade fair in Africa. The food processing & packaging exposyum (fppe) is to run from 21 to 23 November 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. Reason enough to take a closer look at interpack’s younger foreign brother and the location of Africa in closer depth.

Same but Different: Trade Fairs South of the Sahara

Whether near or far, at trade fairs nothing works without an entire team. Which means for our foreign trade fairs every foreign representation is particularly important. In the case of the fppe the name here is africon who are on hand for exhibitors, visitors and the media in Nairobi. Thanks to their knowledge of the country and its people our colleagues are also experts on the specificities of the trade fair landscape on the ground. Sonja Mattfeld, Director for East Africa at africon, says:

“Generally speaking, you can say that African trade fairs are much smaller than they are in Europe. The stands are smaller and simpler in design. And the products exhibited are convincing more in terms of their practicality and affordability rather than their state-of-the-art technology. This is because trade fairs are traditionally more a ‘marketplace’ for end consumers than a B2B platform. However, this is now changing more and more.”

Alongside workshops, conferences, training courses and B2B meetings at the fppe – like at trade fairs at home – it is obviously the exhibited products that are at the focus of visitors’ attention. These are primarily made up of SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs. Here Germany’s long-regarded quality engineering goes down well in Africa, as Sonja Mattfeld reveals to us:

Sonja Mattfeld, Director for East Africa at africon

“One product that in the past met with great interest among local visitors was the small table-top version of a bag sealing machine that is affordable, easy to use and durable. It was even possible to try it out on site which further fuelled interest.”

Project Management at a Distance of 6,500 km as the Crow Flies

But it is not only in Africa that preparations for the fppe in November are very much underway. Over here in Germany there is obviously also a project team that, together with the foreign representatives, looks after the organisation of this trade fair. We spoke to Angelika Spies, in charge of project management at the fppe. She gave us an insight into what tasks arise when a trade fair is to be organised thousands of miles away, what significance the location of Kenya has for the fppe and what bit of Africa might also suit a German trade show.

Editor: What marks out your work as Project Manager for fppe in Kenya?

Angelika Spies: As the Senior Project Manager in the “interpack alliance” team I am responsible for approx. 950 exhibitors at interpack in Düsseldorf. In parallel with this I have also canvassed from our homebase for our trade fairs abroad. By assuming project responsibility for the fppe I am in entirely new territory and now I also deal with topics such as visitor canvassing, press and budgeting.

Editor: Even though it is still a while to go to November when fppe opens, the preparation phase is sure to already be in full swing. What aspects do you deal with from Düsseldorf and what tasks still lie ahead in terms of the fppe?

Angelika Spies: At the fppe it is not just about bringing visitors and exhibitors together on an existing market. Together with our foreign representatives we also have to provide an element of development aid, for exhibitors and visitors. For instance, at this year’s fppe we will offer organised B2B meetings and a CEO Breakfast for exhibitors. And there is an official German participation with reduced participation fees for German exhibitors. All this needs organising and canvassing.

Editor: How significant is a packaging trade fair like the fppe in Africa against the backdrop of the local economic situation?

Angelika Spies: Africa has a major problem with the transportation and packaging of foodstuffs. Here interpack exhibitors can offer solutions. Also providing help is our SAVE FOOD Initiative that specifically focuses on the topic of “food losses”.


Angelika Spies, in charge of project management at fppe

Editor: Why did the “interpack alliance” specifically choose Kenya as the host country for a packaging fair?

Angelika Spies: Africa is seen as a growth continent with a very young population. Furthermore, due to the weak economy companies seek alternative markets in China or Brazil. Here we, as trade fair organisers, must create opportunities to explore the market. For instance, the government in Nairobi is intensely involved in getting foreign firms to move their African headquarters to Nairobi.

Editor: What “bit” of Africa would particularly suit a German trade fair?

Angelika Spies: I think we can learn from all foreign trade fairs. After all, many people and companies we met there come back to Düsseldorf as customers where we have to create a “feel-good environment” for them. In Africa it is sure to be people’s creativity and the deceleration of one’s own pace that would stand us in good stead in Germany.

So have we whetted your appetite? Anyone wishing to take a look at all this for themselves is still able to register as an exhibitor until 14 September 2017.

Nina Wellbrock
Nina Wellbrock
Senior Social Media Managerin bei der Messe Düsseldorf GmbH. Und sonst? Leidenschaft für Kommunikation, Konzerte und Sport (Fußball/Tennis).
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