2023 IPPO President’s Report

It feels like a lifetime since we last held an AGM at interpack. It has certainly been an interesting and somewhat challenging six years, with two US presidents in that time, a global pandemic, a war in Ukraine, several cancelled exhibitions, including interpack 2020, an energy crisis, and 302 British Prime Ministers, but, as French playwright Moliere once said: “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it!”

Your current board was installed in 2017 and immediately set about working on several key actions. The first was the website, which we re-launched in the same year making it easier to navigate and introducing an optional RSS news feed, IPPO news section and better presented member data.

We also launched an IPPO company LinkedIn page, and more recently have been actively building that utilising the social media skills of one of Lindy’s team in Australia.

A second priority was to conduct a member survey, with all those completing it having their 2018-19 membership fee waived. 37 members completed the questionnaire, which was designed to help us better understand members’ needs, tradeshows of importance, and views on the IPPO website and social media.

Another action was to more succinctly articulate the benefits of membership. As part of this, we created a two-side marketing flyer to display in Press rooms at packaging events: one side presenting the benefits of membership to IPPO and the other showcasing the benefits of working with IPPO. Ultimately, our distribution of this has been hampered by the pandemic and the cancellation of so many large shows during the last few years, but they are present at this show, and can be utilised at other shows going forward.

Alongside the website revamp and new marketing tools, we also redesigned the IPPO logo, giving it a fresh and more modern look, while respecting the past.

The pandemic, unprecedented as it was, has impacted us all in a variety of ways, and even now, as we look around the room here, you can see that travel hasn’t quite returned to normal for us journalists, and an increasing amount of business interactions are taking place remotely. One of the nice things to come out of the pandemic in the summer of 2020 was the level of chat among our members – friendship across the borders – as we shared our experiences of lockdown, memories of old interpacks and photos of our gardens.

When I became president in 2017, I commented that it was my belief that IPPO needed to modernise in light of the changing dynamics that face the world of b2b journalism, but without losing the foundations of what made IPPO what it is, which is a friendly society that exchanges information about the industry and that also breaks bread together.

We have had dinner meetings for our members at the likes of Pack Expo and Ipack-Ima, funded by IPPO, and encouraged member meet-ups where possible at various shows. The IPPO board also opened up opportunities for funded travel for members based on a format that benefits our membership and IPPO as an organisation, and has so far spent several hundred euros on such sponsorships.

In March, we offered a stipend of $800 for two members to attend interpack, and I’m delighted to say that Erik Kruisselbrink and Dominique Huret secured the funding and are both with us this week.

We have also continued to foster deals with associations and long-standing partners to benefit our members and their business travel. We have delivered two partnerships with Ucima and Ipack-Ima since 2017, which has resulted in funded trips, hotel nights, flights or stipends for more than 11 IPPO members. IPPO members were also invited to chair sessions at Ipack-Ima’s conference, which Lindy Hughson and myself did.

Our continued partnership with PMMI and Pack Expo has seen more than 30 hotel nights provided for our members, while Tokyo Pack’s organiser JPI also provided flights and hotel nights for IPPO members.

We continued to try and deliver on new partnerships, and in 2018 we worked with the organisers of Hispack in Spain to provide up to 8 of our members with flights and hotel stays. In 2020, we partnered with the Deliver Conference in Amsterdam, which saw 3 IPPO members receive hotel nights, a travel allowance and funded meals.

One partnership that continues to go from strength-to-strength is our work with the World Packaging Organisation. In 2018, our secretary-general Lindy Hughson spearheaded an Inward Mission to Australia, which saw 5 IPPO members (plus those working with the WPO) receive sponsorship to attend and speak at the AIP National Conference in Queensland, host a special IPPO panel, and attend the WorldStar Awards.

That relationship has continued with several IPPO members attending the WorldStar Awards at Ipack-Ima in 2022, and we had a members’ table at this year’s awards last night. President Pierre Pienaar has consistently spoken about the importance of WPO’s relationship with IPPO, and I have no doubt that this will continue to blossom in the years ahead.

The last six years has seen us sadly lose some familiar IPPO faces, including Ake (pronounced Okeh) Andersson, Bob Heitzman, John Kalkowski and Stuart Hoggard.

Despite the challenges that we have faced in recent years in terms of travel and physical meetings, IPPO has welcomed almost 20 new members. We made this possible by changing the constitution in 2017, with IPPO member consent, to allow the voting in of new members by email (11 votes in favour are required, which includes a minimum of 3 board members). We have made some small amendments to the constitution for 2023, which you will be invited to approve in a later agenda item.

Embracing digitalisation is essential in the modern world and the IPPO board has been and is keen to expand our website platform to make it the go-to source of global news on packaging innovation, trends and technology developments.

Not only do we, as packaging journalists, talk increasingly about digitalisation in our industry, but we also find our jobs becoming increasingly digital-focused. News is delivered 24/7 and, thanks to social media, everyone has a voice and a platform to air it, which can be extremely challenging for us too when it comes to the environmental debate, for example.

“As a professional journalist, I am happy to compete against the thousands of amateur bloggers out there reporting and commenting on the same stories I do!” Words of author Douglas Rushkoff, who studies human autonomy in a digital age.

Digital or otherwise, there is no competition to the expertise and insight that a skilled journalist can bring to the table. IPPO continues to bring those skilled individuals together as a network of experts that the industry needs to call on. And I would urge you, as IPPO members, to encourage any relevant friends and colleagues in the packaging journalism world to join our team here at IPPO.

As former National Basketball Association coach Phil Jackson once said: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

Our thanks go to our sponsors PMMI, Ucima/Ipack-Ima, APPMA, APEAL and Finn Partners, who are supporting this year’s IPPO party. We have also arranged for our members to be the first to hear an exciting announcement from the WPO, which takes place at the party.

I would like to finish by saying a few words about my friends on the IPPO board, who have served with me during the last six years. I’m not just saying this because they are here alongside me, but I honestly cannot speak highly enough about them and the work they have done on behalf of IPPO.

I could not have asked for a better board to work with during my tenure as president, as Lisa, Lindy and Andrew bring a varied and valuable set of skills to the table, and share a passion for journalism and the prosperity of IPPO.

During our regular Zoom meetings – which were especially inconvenient for Lindy and Andrew, being at 6am and 9pm respectively – we worked tirelessly to deliver benefit to our membership. It has been an absolute honour to serve as president of IPPO for the past six years, and three years before that as vice-president, and I wholeheartedly support the nominations of Lindy Hughson as president, Lisa McTigue Pierce as secretary-general, and Andrew Manly as treasurer. IPPO could not be in safer hands.

And I leave you with this final thought.

We, as journalists, are communicators. Let’s continue to communicate as members, with members, going forward. That is our strength. Thank you.

Steven Pacitti

President (2017-2023)