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Positive Propak East Africa

Quality leads and outstanding networking opportunities were key takeaways from Propak East Africa, report Karen Stretch and Glywnnis Wells.

The inaugural Propak East Africa Exhibition, hosted in the heart of Nairobi at the Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC), attracted 2 034 visitors, eager to learn more about cutting-edge technologies for packaging, food processing, printing, labelling and plastics.

During the three-day event, officially opened by Joseph Nyongesa (president of the African Packaging Organisation), 65 exhibitors from 15 countries engaged enthusiastically with visitors, promoting their products and specialised services. In return, they were handsomely rewarded with promising leads.

‘We’ve found that the Propak brand has been our most powerful tool,’ comments event director, Alexander Angus, ‘Propak Africa, hosted in Johannesburg, is the biggest show of its kind on the continent; and this proved pivotal in attracting people to the East Africa event and delivering a quality audience to the exhibiters.’

For some South African companies, such as Trioplastics and Cab Technology, it was a first foray into the greater African market; for others the event provided an opportunity to explore fresh business propositions with existing customers in the region.

Corrugated prospects for Alliance Machinery

Alliance Machinery MD, Bradley Bate, and MarquipWardUnited’s Africa sales manager, Frédéric Duquenne, were inundated with enquiries from local players looking for value-for-money corrugated converting and finishing equipment.

‘We’ve recently partnered with Frédéric to offer the Apollo ECon sheeter to the African market,’ Bradley relates. ‘Built in the US, using MarquipWardUnited’s advanced engineering processes, it’s an affordable machine that produces the sheet quality and accuracy demanded by corrugated board manufacturers. It definitely appealed to the East African converters who visited our stand.’

Besides local corrugated enterprises, Bradley received promising enquiries from canned food producers who currently outsource their secondary packaging manufacturing and are looking to reduce production costs by bringing their box production and printing in-house.

‘As a specialist supplier to the corrugated industry, we provide automatic/semi-automatic flatbed die-cutting and creasing machines, foil stamping machines, folding and gluing machines, peripheral equipment and stitching machines, so we can offer tailor-made systems to suit any operation, large or small,’ Bradley explains.

Before flying back to South Africa, Bradley visited a couple of Nairobi-based board manufacturing sites to assess current resources and growth potential. ‘We gained first-hand experience of local trends and challenges, which will assist us in offering the right equipment choices in future. I’m confident that a second visit to Nairobi is soon on the cards,’ he concludes.  

Filmatic fills order books

By the time Propak East Africa had drawn to a close, Riaan van Zyl and the team from Paarl-based Filmatic had received more than 180 qualified leads from independent creamery owners and food and beverage manufacturers for automatic filling and packing machines. ‘To say I’m delighted is an understatement!’ declares Riaan. ‘We wanted to showcase our most advanced automatic machines and displayed four systems – a rotary level filler, volumetric cup filler, inline pump filler and shrink wrapper. Response was overwhelming – a sure sign that the East African dairy, food and beverage industries are showing healthy growth and are ready to invest!’

With a focus on excellent service and providing turnkey systems, the Filmatic team has earned an enviable reputation worldwide for supplying the highest quality specialised rinsing, liquid filling, capping, labelling, conveying and packaging equipment. The company also offers engineering services to the international market and has a distribution network operating in 21 countries.

‘Providing advanced technology and a professional and reputable service in the East African market is essential for our long-term growth in the region and Propak is the perfect platform for us to reconnect with existing partners and to build new business relationships,’ remarks Riaan. ‘The sales and leads speak for themselves; producers are confident about our systems and expertise and, as a result, want to do business with us.’ 

Ishida weighs up the options

Jonathan Beattie, Ishida South Africa general sales manager, and Steve Jones, product strategy director, Ishida Europe, reported a healthy stream of enquiries from East African food manufacturers.

According to Steve, there’s significant entrepreneurship in a rapidly-developing region, specifically in the snacks sector, but current opportunities for Ishida equipment are limited to a small number of larger organisations.

Jonathan reports enquiries from entrepreneurs keen to establish snack food (or other food product) manufacturing plants, using manual or semi-automatic equipment. ‘Overall, we were happy with the number of visitors – it gave us a real feel for market potential now and in the future. With the region’s GDP growth rate so high this can only mean more optimistic signs ahead,’ he says.

‘In my opinion,’ interjects Steve Jones, ‘real growth in the region will come from packaged food products developing to a level that requires automation. From an equipment supplier perspective, this could be heavily influenced by multinationals opening facilities in the developing East Africa region.

‘We also spoke to individuals and companies wanting to represent Ishida in the East African region, which shows our name is already well known. That’s really positive!’

Both agree that the show met their expectations – not only as a vehicle to aid market understanding but also providing real leads. As a result, they’re currently considering booking space at Propak West Africa 2014 and attending Propak East Africa 2015.

‘We’re unveiling an exciting new range of weighing and quality control equipment at interpack, so our next African excursion will feature more information on these, our top-selling RV-series multihead check weighers and more!’ Steve sums up.

Hi-Tech gains momentum

Resplendent in their signature corporate colours, the Hi-Tech Inks team, led by Hayley Palmer, caught up with existing ink customers in the Kenyan flexible packaging arena and established new contacts with those from other East African countries.

‘Regardless of location, all converters want an ink supplier who’s going to provide consistent quality products and a professional and reliable service,’ Hayley maintains. ‘We’ve been dealing with enterprises in the East African region for a number of years and business in the flexible packaging sector is especially buoyant. The quality of flexible packaging production in Kenya is on a par with global standards and converters are continually improving their systems and processes to maintain a competitive advantage,’ she adds. ‘Besides the busy Kenyan market we’re showing healthy growth in African countries such as Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana and Malawi. Enquiries gained during the exhibition reflect a continued positive trend on the continent.’

Flint invests for growth

According to Flint Group Narrow Web’s Johan Weideman and Neil Endres, building an enduring business relationship in any developing African region requires an intimate knowledge and understanding of the target market and its unique variables.

‘We’re gaining momentum in the East African narrow-web printing and packaging industries and attendance at shows such as Propak East Africa is vital to extend our market intelligence and business connections and to showcase our latest product developments,’ remarks Johan.

‘Besides the Nairobi exhibition, another objective was to assess the benefit of establishing a dedicated sales and technical team in Kenya,’ he adds. ‘With our local market expertise and Flint’s global technical resources, we’re 100% committed to growing our East African business and servicing the region more effectively. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll have the new office open by the end of this year!’

Trioplastics breaks new ground

The inaugural Propak East Africa provided a perfect platform for the Trioplastics team to launch their range of rigid PVC and PET products to the East African market. ‘It appears that most thermoformed packaging in Kenya is imported, so there’s a need for local manufacture of thermoformed and vacuum-forming products. Demand for rigid PVC and PET film is currently fairly low but looks set to pick up soon,’ comments marketing manager, Venica Rossouw. ‘Furthermore, there are future supply opportunities for the recently-launched cooling tower fills, manufactured from recycled PVC,’ she adds.

Overall, attending the exhibition was a positive brand building exercise for Trioplastics. ‘We were able to research and educate the market and made excellent contacts during our stay, with other exhibitors and visitors alike. I’m confident that several of these prospects will prove fruitful in the near future.’

[Ed’s note: Propak East Africa returns to Nairobi’s KICC from March 17 to 19, 2015.]


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