If emerging markets are supposed to provide an economic lift to the world economy, India's plastics sector seems ready to oblige, with its leaders opening the Plastindia trade show Feb. 1 by predicting they will maintain double-digit growth during the next decade.
Led by that growth, those officials claim, Plastindia has become the third-largest plastics show in the world, trailing Germany's K show and Chinaplas. Plastindia opened its doors in New Delhi with 1,800 exhibitors, 1.08 million square feet of exhibition space and an expected 100,000 trade visitors over the course of the six-day event.
Organizers of the NPE show in the U.S. argue that metrics like purchasing power of the buyers on the show floor matter more than visitor head count. However, shows like NPE and Japan's IPF have seen attendance drop in recent years, while Plastindia has grown larger.
The last NPE, in 2009, had a little less than 1 million square feet of exhibition space, 1,851 exhibiting firms and 45,000 registered attendees. For NPE2012 in April, organizers estimate exhibitor space at about 1 million square feet, the number of exhibitors at 1,800 and attendees at 55,000.
Plastindia is optimistic that emerging markets like India and China will drive global growth, with India growing 12-15 percent a year, according to S.B. Dangayach, chairman of the National Advisory Board of the New Delhi-based Plastindia Foundation. The foundation organizes the show, which is held every three years.
Some Indian executives interviewed at the show said they saw a slowdown in the second half of 2011, as both global economic uncertainty and factors specific to India, like rapidly rising interest rates, started to bite.
That dropped the 15 percent growth the industry had been seeing to about 12 percent in 2011, said Ashok Goel, president of Plastindia Foundation and vice chairman of Mumbai, India-based plastic packager Essel Propack.
India's plastics growth is largely domestically driven, so has been more immune to global problems than export-driven Asian economies like China, Plastindia organizers said.
India's plastics sector, however, remains much smaller, with per-capita plastics consumption well below the world average.