KNOWLEDGEshare 2013: Beverage industry reports excellent collaboration through innovative event

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A two-day, innovative forum with more than 120 participants from all areas of the beverage industry and beyond recently provided an invaluable opportunity for debating many of the big issues facing those responsible for delivering the liquid packaging solutions of today and, importantly, of tomorrow.


KNOWLEDGEshare 2013 was staged at the Frankfurt Hilton Hotel on 25 and 26 November. A focus throughout the event was how those involved, directly and indirectly, in the beverage supply chain can adapt to meet the challenges of a future in which a sustainable approach to satisfying consumers’ needs has never been more critical. KNOWLEDGEshare was presented in association with Sidel. Welcoming delegates to the event, Sidel President & 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 not only the people that we deal with day to day in our interactions as a provider to the industry, but 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 very much a broader view was Dr. James Bellini, a futurologist who set the scene for the two days of debate with a presentation entitled “Horizon 2030: Predicting the demands of tomorrow.” The scale and pace of change and the pressures this puts on the world’s resources was a focus of Dr. Bellini’s presentation, with the period leading up to 2030 likely to be one of “…unprecedented change, not least the fact that we need to feed another 2 billion people on this planet.” This established the framework for the various sessions, with the theme again picked up in the keynote presentation on 26 November in which Mark Driscoll, Head of Food at the Forum for the Future, addressed “Sustainability in a resource constrained world.”

Alongside the keynote presentations, individual sessions were presented under the headings of “A world tour of the beverage industry”; “Beverage safety in a changing world”; “Unlocking the value of PET”; and “Defining tomorrow’s production line.” Panellists were drawn from various parts of the beverage industry supply chain to debate the issues, with many discussions arising from questions posed by the delegates. Stimulating debate and collaboration was very much the aim of KNOWLEDGEshare. Delegates contributed throughout the event, either via the microphones placed on each table or through the iPads distributed to everyone present to allow them to post questions directly to the speakers and to the panellists. Several networking opportunities were also presented for delegates to further share knowledge, including an informal dinner on the evening of the opening day.

In his concluding comments at KNOWLEDGEshare 2013, Dr. Bellini spoke of how encouraged he was by what he had heard and proposed that the beverage industry was in a healthy position to tackle the challenges of the future. This was critical given the central role that beverage production has to play. He added that “food and beverage is very much at the top of the agenda. There are probably three big issues that we have to crack this century: one of them is health and wellbeing, one is sustainability and the third one is food and beverage.” Forecasts for 2030 suggest that demands for energy will have increased by 50 percent, food by 50 percent and water by 30 percent, alongside the additional pressures brought about by an increasingly urban population. Despite these challenging projections, Dr Bellini recognised in packaging “an industry that has embraced the future in many ways.” However, he also saw the event in terms of a starting point, stating that “an essential part of the process is for all of you to engage in an ongoing conversation across the industry.”

Comments from the delegates highlighted the success of an approach which looked to provide an insight into the future of beverages and their packaging in a format which engaged everybody. Such comments included:

“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 the interaction is the best thing we can get from this event...the interaction is very different.”
Michalis Tsaoutos, General Manager, EPSA SA (Greece)

“Most events are quite focused either to 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 is quite interesting to hear this futurologist.”
Stephen Mancey, Managing Director, Logoplaste (UK)

“I think it’s really good coming to an event like this as you have a lot of the industry experts that you can share knowledge with…you get to interact…I really like the ipads on each of the tables as well…to give feedback as the day is going on.”
Sarb Bhangle, Managing Director, ViVa Drinks (UK)

“We have learnt 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, mechanical engineers from different sides.”
Michael Krueger, Chief Technology Officer, Corvaglia Group (Switzerland)

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Chris Twigger