The Russian market seems to be finally moving out of the trough at least as regards the plastics, rubber and packaging sectors and related process industries. Impressive proof of this has been provided by the two trade fairs interplastica, 22nd International Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber, and upakovka - Processing and Packaging, which drew to a successful close after four trade fair days on 1 February 2019. To the tune of 25,000 visitors came to the AO Expocenter in Krasnaja Presnja, Moscow to seek information on the extensive ranges displayed by 950 exhibitors from 32 countries.
After a period of stagnation in 2016 and a -2.8 % recession in 2015, Russia saw a new growth phase start in 2017 with 1.5 % GNP growth. Four years after the sanctions were imposed and the oil price dropped the Russian economy has adapted to the new circumstances and managed to grow again.
There is a great deal of renewed interest in modern machinery, production plants and high-tech materials. This also especially applies to demand for packaging technologies and plastic processing equipment. To the delight of the exhibiting companies, activities at interplastica und upakovka were therefore not only confined to an exchange of information. Many trade visitors also came with concrete intentions to buy and took their purchasing decisions right on site. This underpins the substantial investment needs that continue to exist in Russia and its neighbouring states.
The presence of numerous foreign exhibitors evidences the sustained strong interest taken in the Russian market. "Following some difficult years things are picking up again. Those showing stamina will now be rewarded," reflects Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, CEO and President of Messe Düsseldorf, drawing a positive conclusion. Very satisfied with the results of the two trade fairs, he goes on to say: "The mood in the halls was excellent, exhibitors reported extremely interested business people who were also prepared to place orders. They capitalised on the unique opportunity here to see the latest developments in world markets and negotiate with suppliers on site."
In 2017 (for want of more recent figures) plastics and rubber machines worth EUR 457 million were exported to Russia from all over the world; this means 40.4% more than in 2016 (325.5 million).
From January to September 2018 plastics and rubber machinery exports from Germany totalled EUR 90.8 million - a 3.3% plus against the same period of the previous year.
Commenting on this Thorsten Kühmann, General Manager at the Fachverband Kunststoff- und Gummimaschinen (the Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association within the VDMA), said: "Following a marked rise in German deliveries to Russia in 2017, these levels were maintained and had even raised slightly by November 2018. As before there are clear impulses for the packaging sector as a direct upshot of the Russian food sanctions. As a result, packaging must increasingly be produced in Russia to preserve regional foodstuffs. Add to this the positive effect companies with local branches can feel as their stamina is increasingly rewarded. It is true that the Russian market has not been able to follow on from the successful years around 2013 yet but it offers compensation in volatile times."
Austria and China were represented with strong joint pavilions at interplastica 2019 while Germany promoted the quality seal "Made in Germany" with a large, official German participation. Furthermore, Italy attended with its usual strong participation. 65 Italian exhibitors at individual stands and at the big country pavilion in Hall 2.3 provided a comprehensive overview. Fabrizio Vanzan, Exhibition Manager at AMAPLAST, summed it up as follows: "interplastica 2019 proved very positive for us and even exceeded our expectations against the backdrop of the known, difficult economic situation. Our Italian exhibitors welcomed many existing customers but also new customers from Russia and its neighbouring countries to their stands. We expect very good follow-up business."
"Two topics also generating particular interest at interplastica 2019 were Industry 4.0 and Recycling," says Natallia Esche, Team Assistant at VDMA AG Hybride Leichtbau Technologien. In terms of recycling Esche refers to the internationally still very different development status: "The problem of waste disposal is a very acute one in many countries, including Russia. Whereas in many Western European countries this problem is already being actively solved with the introduction of entire processing complexes, Russia currently only has a few, small plants."
The ranges displayed by interplastica exhibitors were complemented by a programme of high-calibre technical events. At the Polymer Plaza in Hall 1 expert lectures and panel discussions addressing such current issues as "Plastics and the Circular Economy - Recycling Trends and Rising Environmental Conscience", "Innovative Trends in the Modern Polymer Industry", or "Biopolymers and Recycling" made for packed rows in the audience.
Also proving a key attraction for visitors was the third edition of the special show 3D fab+print. The strong growth areas of Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing were centre stage. Here Russian and international experts discussed developments, opportunities and challenges of this young technology while exhibitors showcased their innovative products and solutions within this theme.
The next interplastica in Moscow will be held from 28 to 31 January 2020, once again concurrently with upakovka.