CMT Field Notes: Chinaplas 2017

The plastics industry’s second biggest exhibition returned to Guangzhou (pop. 14MM) in the Dongguan region of Southern China. This was the 31st Chinaplas Fair and with 13 halls and the organizers were delighted to announced a new record of 155,000 visitors, up 4.5% from last year and 21% from 2015.

Each morning on the bus ride to the show, I read the China Daily newspaper which had intensive coverage of China’s Belt & Road Initiative, billed as the largest infrastructure project in history, with over $1tn pledged among 68 countries. Later in the week, the paper ran an interview with the CEO of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris. It was relevant to get his perspective and understand the scale of opportunities for chemicals and plastics in China. The company has 17 manufacturing sites and 10 offices in the country, and not just in the major cities like Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

Unlike the K show where the thermoforming industry tends to congregate in Hall 3, at Chinaplas you had to cover quite a bit of real estate to visit all of the players. In total, there were approximately 30 thermoforming-related companies scattered around the exhibition center, though many Chinese OEMs could be found in Halls 2 and 10, while their European counterparts were based in their respective country pavilions (Germany and Italy, predominantly). HYTAC plug assists were featured in numerous m achinery booths, including 4 of the main Chinese OEMs.

HengFeng booth.jpg

Tracking Regional Trends

With increased wealth comes demand for higher quality items, including convenience foods. The proliferation of stores like Walmart and Sam’s Club means that products that were once loosely bagged in polyethylene sacks or nylon mesh are now packaged in rigid thermoforms. Even in the hinterlands of China’s remote provinces, the role of packaging is changing and is looking more like what one would see in developed markets around the world. Converters are also stepping up their quality control procedures for inputs and outputs as demand from Chinese OEMS, not just the multinationals, force their hand in a dynamic marketplace.

Vulcan booth.jpg

Next year the show returns to Shanghai, though it will be moving to a new venue, the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Hongqiao.