BRINGING TOGETHER THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS IN THE BEVERAGE INDUSTRY
At the end of last year, the doors opened to a unique two-day event called KNOWLEDGEshare that brought together all parts of the beverage industry.
Packaging designers, retailers, recyclers and beverage producers from different markets and countries arrived at the Hilton Frankfurt Airport Hotel with the sole purpose of talking about the challenges that the industry faces. The success of the event has already led to it being repeated in China, and the launch of a new blog for the beverage industry.
The holistic view
Welcoming the 120 delegates to the invitation-only event in Frankfurt, Sidel President and CEO Mart Tiismann said, "There are issues where we need to take a more holistic view, a longer term view, and the whole purpose of this meeting is to create the forum for doing that. This is why we have invited here both the people that we deal with in our day-to-day interactions as a provider to the industry, and also people who are able to lift our thoughts, who have a broader view, and also the influencers of the industry."
One of those with the broader view was the speaker Dr. James Bellini, a futurologist who set the scene for the two days of discussion with a presentation entitled "Horizon 2030: Predicting the demands of tomorrow". The focus of this presentation was the scale and pace of change and the pressures this places on the world's resources. His thoughts and insights established the framework for the various sessions that followed.
Representing the complete supply chain
Alongside the keynote presentations, there were panel debates on themes as diverse as the panelists themselves. All parts of the beverage industry supply chain were represented in the debates - from lawyers to mechanical engineers and retailers. They used their expertise to discuss and enlighten participants around four main themes: A world tour of the beverage industry; Beverage safety in a changing world; Unlocking the value of PET; and Defining tomorrow's production line. Once the discussions were underway, the audience got involved by submitting questions electronically from iPads or by asking directly using the microphones on their tables.
The discussions showed that even though participants and panelists came from diverse backgrounds, they are facing similar challenges in fields such as product safety, national and international regulations, technological advancements, sustainability and growing consumer demands.
After the official sessions, the discussions spilled out and continued into the breaks and over dinner as participants made new contacts and shared their ideas and understanding of the issues and challenges faced by the food and beverage industry. Feedback from this unique event revealed that those present enjoyed being able to take an industry-wide panoramic perspective. In fact, 99% of those who attended believe that the beverage industry benefits from an event like KNOWLEDGEshareTM.
Other comments from participants at the end of the KNOWLEDGEshare event in Frankfurt showed that the participants appreciated taking a more forward-looking view. "Most events are focused either on selling machines or a package, or everybody telling each other what they have been doing fantastically, but typically telling us what they already did last year. No one tells you the future. That's why it was interesting to hear the futurologist," said Stephen Mancy, Managing Director of Logoplaste in the UK.
Ready to face the future
With forecasts for 2030 indicating that demands for energy will have increased by 50 percent, food by 50 percent and water by 30 percent, the beverage industry has many challenges ahead. However, futurologist, Dr. Bellini recognised in packaging "an industry that has embraced the future in many ways."
Speaker Mark Driscoll, Head of Food at Forum for the Future, also addressed the challenges facing the packaging industry in a resource-constrained world and talked about the need for a nuanced and holistic approach. "Sustainability requires consideration of life cycle impacts… We need to consider how packaging contributes to the impact on the environment alongside the role it plays in reducing food waste," he said. In his concluding comments at the Frankfurt event, Dr. Bellini spoke of how encouraged he was by the discussions that had taken place. He also saw KNOWLEDGEshare as a starting point for further dialogue stating "an essential part of the process is for all of you to engage in an ongoing conversation across the industry."
KNOWLEDGEshare in China
Following on the success of the event in Frankfurt, a second KNOWLEDGEshare event was held on the island of Hainan for two hundred executives from different segments of the beverage industry in China.
Over two intense days, participants and speakers discussed the challenges that the Chinese beverage market faces - from energy prices and rising raw material costs to rapidly changing consumer demands and the increased regulation faced by the companies seeking to meet those demands. Breakout sessions included how automation can help deliver higher productivity; the achievement of greater efficiencies through smarter investments; how to reduce production downtime via plant optimisation; and the solutions available specifically for those beverage manufacturers producing products requiring sensitive or particle filling.
The event also looked at the Chinese beverage market in the wider context of global megatrends, such as the significant growth in global population and the increasing importance of emerging markets to the global economy. Representatives from the China Beverage Industry Association and Nielsen, the global market research and data specialists, provided invaluable insights into developments in this unique and fast-growing market.
Fan Lidong, Vice President of Sidel Greater China commented, "This was very much a departure from the more conventional conference approach where delegates simply sit and listen to the appointed speakers. As the name of the event suggests, the objective was to offer a collaborative forum in which the real issues that the industry faces could be openly discussed, with the delegates benefiting from the collective knowledge of all those who participated."
Moving the conversation online
The success of the two events have shown that there is a need for these discussions to continue and the recently launched KNOWLEDGEshare blog has created a new forum for doing just that. It is based on the same concept as the events but the online format allows more people to get involved. Activity has been lively since the blog started and the comments and online activity show that it will quickly become established as the place to engage in industry discussions.
To participate in the debates and experience KNOWLEDGEshare for yourself, visit knowledgeshare.com.
What did participants think?
We have learned that there are issues in product safety far beyond what we have looked into so far… It was of help that it was kind of a mixed panel: lawyers and mechanical engineers from different sides.
Michael Krueger, Chief Technology Officer, Corvaglia Group, Switzerland
I think it's really good coming to an event like this as you have a lot of industry experts that you can share knowledge with… you get to interact… I really like the iPads on the tables as well… to give feedback as the day is going on.
Sarb Bhangle, Managing Director, ViVa Drinks, UK
I used this event as a think tank to just think out of the box, learn some new things and prepare myself and my company for the future… I think interaction is the best thing we can get from this event.
Michalis Tsaoutos, General Manage, EPSA SA, Greece