Show Report: K 2019 K 2019 gives a clear signal for responsible handling of plastics

Editor: Steffen Donath

224,116 visitors from 168 countries came to Düsseldorf for K 2019. Among the various topics at the show, circular economy was agreed to be the hot topic of the year and the years to come.

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K 2019 welcomed its visitors in Düsseldorf and more international visitors than before came to attend.
K 2019 welcomed its visitors in Düsseldorf and more international visitors than before came to attend.
(Source: Messe Düsseldorf / ctillmann)

The 3,330 exhibitors from 63 nations proved: plastics continue to be an innovative, indispensable material. But they also unanimously underscored the necessity of having operational circular economies along the complete material chain and to this end already presented numerous concrete solutions. Companies struck a nerve with people with this focus because the approximately 224,116 visitors from 168 countries took interest especially in recycling systems, sustainable raw materials, resource-saving processes.

“K 2019 came at precisely the right point in time. Its enormous importance for the sector is underpinned by its high acceptance levels all over the world. There is no other place the industry is represented so internationally and completely as here in Düsseldorf every three years,” says Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, President & CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, and explains: “Especially in turbulent times platforms such as K are indispensable. It provides guidance and perspectives, is an economic driver, shows forward-looking trends and concrete approaches. The industry and its professional associations enjoyed the unique opportunity here to present sector-specific solutions and debate questions of socio-political relevance on a global scale. And they have capitalised on this opportunity outstandingly well.”

Ulrich Reifenhäuser, Chairman of the Exhibitor Advisory Board at K 2019, was delighted at K 2019 results: “The plastics and rubber industry succeeded in proving once again that plastics are not only very valuable materials with outstanding properties but also that this industry assumes responsibility along the entire value chain. The buzzwords at K 2019 “Reflect. Re-Think. Think Laterally. Think Afresh.” were mirrored 1:1 by exhibitors’ stands. Never before has the industry addressed an issue so unanimously and worked on solutions so consistently as is the case now in the fields of environmental compatibility, saving resources and avoiding waste. There is a spirit of new departures prevailing in the industry and current dynamics are overwhelming.”

The nations especially well represented on the part of visitors after Germany were Italy, the Netherlands, India, Turkey and China, followed by the USA. Furthermore, a marked increase in the number of trade visitors from the Russian Federation, Japan and Brazil could be registered. The number of executives among K visitors rose slightly yet again: to the tune of 68 % came from top or middle management. While for German trade visitors increased efficiency ranked first as today’s most important issue, for European and non-European trade fair guests the expansion of product and service portfolios was in the foreground.

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A growing international audience

Results from the visitor survey confirmed a view held by exhibitors —  namely that the international origin of visitors had increased yet again: It stood at 73.1 % as compared with 70.8 % in 2016. Over 42 % of all foreign visitors came from overseas — travelling to the Rhine from Angola, Burkina-Faso, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mongolia, Myanmar, French Polynesia or Tajikistan. As expected, the experts from Asia accounted for the biggest group of foreign visitors: to the tune of 40,000 experts came from South, East and Central Asia. India was represented with the highest number of visitors, while visitor attendance from China and Japan was up again considerably.

Almost 20,000 visitors travelled to K 2019 from North and South America, which corresponds to a 7 % increase.

In terms of guests from the neighbouring European countries Italy dominated with over 10,000 visitors, followed by the Netherlands (approx. 9,000), Turkey (over 7,500) France (over 6,700), Belgium (over 6,300), Spain (over 5,100) and Russia (some 5,000). Machinery and equipment manufacturing, the biggest segment at K 2019 with 1,975 exhibitors, was also centrestage in terms of visitor interest, with two-thirds of all people surveyed mentioning this area first. 52 % said they were primarily interested in raw materials and auxiliaries, whereas for 28 % of visitors semi-finished products and technical plastics and rubber parts were the major reason for coming (multiple choices possible).

Once again K scored points as the platform for the premieres of many forward-looking products and applications to a global audience. These innovations were not only marvelled at but there were also many concrete negotiations taking place and contracts concluded. “We found the propensity to invest extremely high and across all nations. In particular, business with new customers was very positive this year. We are also very confident about very strong follow-up business,” says Reifenhäuser.

Visitors came from all key user industries — from packaging, construction and automotive to electrical and medical device technology and agriculture. Overall, they again awarded top marks to the ranges displayed in the 18 exhibition halls: 96 % were impressed with the ranges exhibited at K 2019, 95 % confirmed they had achieved their aims 100 % over the course of their visits.

The extensive supporting programme at K 2019 boasting keynotes and high-calibre discussions such as on renewable energies, material efficiency or zero-waste production met with avid interest among the international audience, especially the Special Show K 2019 “Plastics shape the Future”. This year the innovative power of the material and the industry in terms of resource-saving processes, digitalisation, functionality, renewable energies, circularity and sustainability were centrestage. And such critical themes as marine litter, the throw-away mentality associated with plastic packaging and the use of finite resources for their production were not ignored either.

The next K Düsseldorf will be held from 19 - 26 October 2022.