Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd., the Hong Kong-based organizers of the fast-growing Chinaplas trade show, is atypical in the sense that it tends to play down the event's ranking on the global stage. That, however, is getting more difficult to do every year.
Whereas many event organizers take every opportunity to crow about being bigger than their competitors, the Adsale folks seem content to modestly let the others boast. Instead, they tend to measure their success not only in pure exhibitor or attendee numbers, but also in the level of international involvement in the annual, four-day show, which rotates between Shanghai and Guangzhou.
To those who know China, such an attitude perhaps is not surprising, for there is nothing the Chinese desire more than respect on the global stage. And there is no better measure of respect than to demonstrate that industry players are willing to travel from around the world to sample what you have to offer.
As noted on Page 1 this week, Chinaplas 2010 posted a 17.5 percent increase in attendees, to 81,435. Of those attendees, who came from 130 countries and regions, nearly 15,000 came from outside China's mainland, Adsale said. That figure certainly would have been higher had a significant number of European participants not been grounded by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.
It's true Shanghai is traditionally the stronger of the two locations for Chinaplas, and the 2009 event was affected by the widespread economic slowdown and the H1N1 “swine” flu. But, even so, this year's big attendance jump was all the more impressive given the extraordinary conditions affecting the globe that week.
Some of Chinaplas 2010's other key metrics: more than 2,100 exhibitors from 30-plus countries and regions, with an exhibition area covering a show record 150,000 square meters (1.6 million square feet), or 11 percent more area than the previous Shanghai show, in 2008.
One thing is certain — the China show is one where business is done. Contracts get signed, and dollars, euros and renminbi change hands. That's important because, although some new materials and machines get rolled out, the event is not necessarily the place to see the latest, greatest in cutting-edge technology. Perhaps intellectual property concerns lead some firms to choose not to show all their best wares. And perhaps the developing Chinese plastics processing sector — with some notable exceptions — does not yet require the most advanced, most expensive technology.
Germany's triennial, eight-day K show appears to retain a firm grasp on its position as the world's biggest plastics fair — but one wonders how K and Chinaplas would compare if each were held annually. Meantime, Japan's JP show, while much, much smaller, remains a plastics machinery showcase. India's triennial Plastindia exhibition continues to grow, but still has a way to go to equal the sophistication of its more-established brethren.
North America's triennial NPE show is redefining itself in a market hammered by recession, tight credit and cheap imports. It remains to be seen how NPE's “personality” may change when it relocates to Orlando, Fla., in April 2012 after being anchored for the past few decades in the industrial heartland of Chicago. Certainly, NPE's owner and organizer, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., has — like Adsale — been pushing hard in recent years to expand the international component of its event.
One needs only eyes and ears — not a Ph.D. in mathematics — to understand that Chinaplas, like the China market it serves, is growing at an amazing clip.
Before this year's event, Adsale — which launched Chinaplas in 1983 — called the show “the world's No. 3 international exhibition on the plastics and rubber industries.” Seems it will have to update that description to “world's No. 2” for the 2011 show in Guangzhou.
Grace, Plastics News editor and associate publisher, just attended his seventh Chinaplas show.