What will the packaging solutions of tomorrow look like?

That’s the question the attendees at EastPack 2018 set out to answer earlier this month as more than 8,000 packaging professionals flocked to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City June 12–June 14. Billed as the “East Coast’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event,” EastPack 2018 was collocated with five other shows and did not disappoint, as those in attendance had the opportunity to see the latest innovations in packaging manufacturing across a host of vertical markets, including Life Sciences, Consumer Packaged Goods, Health and Beauty and more.

The conference taking place alongside other UBM events—like MDM East and Design & Manufacturing—gave packaging enthusiasts the ability to gain insight into all aspects of the packaging innovation lifecycle, from idea to application to execution.

“As an organization, we want to help foster new business and unprecedented innovation across all of the industries we serve,” said Nina Brown, UBM’s vice president of events. “It’s great to have a platform to allow the debut of industry-changing products and services. We are thrilled with the robust roster of companies that have chosen to showcase their latest and greatest at the event.”

The dedicated packaging education hub—which featured expert-led sessions on a wide range of topics at the forefront of the industry—was undoubtedly the highlight of the event for Chief Packaging Officers (CPOs). Innovators in packaging design, experts on industry regulations and leaders from top brands shared exclusive insights on everything from conception and design to labeling and ecommerce—and much more. Conference attendees were perhaps most fascinating by sessions that focused on the intersection of smart packaging, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and ecommerce.

Josh Engroff, COO of Evrythng, spoke about the connection of packaging to the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Using today’s newest smart packaging, brands can digitally enhance the consumer’s user experience to build loyalty, both in store and post-sale,” Engroff said. “In store, consumers can scan the product and access brand content and product information such as provenance, manufacturing, sustainability, nutrition and care instructions. Post-purchase, consumers can scan a product for friction-free reordering, registration or rewards and offers.”

Engroff’s session provided insights into the dynamic market space of connected packaging and the future of brand connectedness.

There was even a panel discussion for future CPOs: Rising to the Challenge of a Packaging Career. The session explored the opportunities (e.g., the benefits of the exposure to multiple disciplines) and challenges (e.g., how to stay ahead in a dynamic marketplace) that a career in the packaging industry poses.The panel’s discussion was another confirmation of what we have been saying at CPO for years:  Packaging is a strategic, C-level conversation at companies where products are sold. Companies that don’t treat it as such will have a hard time remaining relevant.

Those who wanted to find out what the future of packaging holds found the answers they were looking for at EastPack 2018.  After such a successful event this year, one thing’s for certain: Leading packaging professionals can’t wait for EastPack 2019.