Preview Tokyo Pack 2018

Ageing population continues to drive packaging developments in Japan

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Tokyo Pack 2016. Photo: JPI
Tokyo Pack 2016. Photo: JPI
Japan will highlight the need to put the environment at the heart of packaging design at this year’s Tokyo Pack 2018 at Tokyo Big Sight International Exhibition Center (October 2-5).

With the theme: ‘Let's create packaging for all our tomorrows,’ the two-yearly event will host seminars that will cover eco-design trends and packaging initiatives that are making headlines around the world.

Sustainable packaging

Key themes will include ‘the factory floor of the future’ designed around automated processes; robotics; accessible design relevant to an ageing population; packaging technologies to help food supply chains withstand increased threat of disruption due to the effects of global climate change and sustainable packaging.

Shigeo Koshino, general managing director, Japan Packaging Institute (JPI), the show's organizer, said conserving more of the Earth's natural resources, preserving healthy eco-systems and reaching for higher standards of air and water quality are at the heart of this year’s message to the packaging industry.

We need to create packaging that protects what is valuable to future generations of people and all living creatures, he said.

In Japan we love and respect the natural environment, and we want to protect and care for it. But sometimes its power can be destructive, which is when we rely on packaging technology that makes our food chains as robust as they can possibly be​,” added Koshino.

We want packaging that looks after our food and also the planet​.

We expect to register in advance around 70,000 visitors and see up to 200,000 in total coming through the doors over the four days, with a much greater overseas participation​.”

The program of events includes AsiaStar Awards Night, celebrating the winners of Asia's packaging 'Oscars' that go on to compete in the 2019 WorldStar awards and Tokyo Pack will host the Golden Jubilee year of the Asia Packaging Federation (APF), which runs the AsiaStar contest.

Founded in Tokyo by the Japan Packaging Institute in 1967, APF will mark its anniversary with a Seminar Day on future challenges for Asian packaging up to 2030 and beyond.

This year’s WorldStar competition​ saw Japan win 26 awards in total, followed by 24 for India and 14 for China. 

2020 Olympic Games

The show is perfectly timed ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games, just as Japan is warming up for a massive influx of sports-lovers. Show-goers will see evidence of the mounting excitement all around Tokyo City and experience the warm welcome that awaits fans.

Tokyo International Packaging Exhibition 2018 will introduce the advanced packaging technology of Japan to the world, looking ahead to the next generation and predicting the trends of the near future, and by doing so promote mutual international understanding​,” said Shigetaro Asano, president, JPI and chairman, Meiji Holdings Company.

According to a report by Euromonitor, ‘Packaging Industry in Japan’ (August 2018), an ageing population continues to drive new packaging developments in Japan and manufacturers are looking to produce packaging that has easy-to-open packs, lighter, and which comes in smaller portions.

Flexible packaging continued to drive growth in packaged food packaging in 2017, with there being a growing demand for convenient packaging which can be easily disposed of and which can help to keep products fresh. Using flexible packaging helps prevent oxidization, which can extend the shelf-life of packaged food,​” the report states.

Personalization is expected to be a key driver in the development of soft drinks products in Japan over the forecast period. Not only is there likely to be greater use of smaller packaging for senior consumers but packaging to allow for portion control among health-oriented Japanese consumers​.”

It said alcoholic drinks packaging is being shaped by Japan’s ageing population and Ienomi, which is the Japanese term for drinking at home. Consumers are increasingly enjoying alcohol at home for relaxation and to economize, which has resulted in metal beverage cans gaining share from on-trade kegs in beer, as well as the growing popularity of RTD products.

Other highlights of the show include a Swedish packaging technology seminar, which will discuss future uses of naturally-sourced PLA (polylactic acid) in paper, application opportunities for moulded pulp, and developments in reinforced paper packaging, moisture resistant paper bags and communicative packaging concepts.


Tokyo Pack 2018 will welcome IKEA to the stage this year, to describe the 'democratic design' concept that defines the Swedish future-looking furniture and homewares business and the importance of recyclable packaging in its global development.

Allan Dickner,​ packaging development manager, IKEA, will talk about the advantages for a brand when their packaging revolves around the whole product lifecycle, local waste management systems, as well as the environmental impact.

This central message will be underlined by Michael Nieuwesteeg​, managing director of the Netherlands Packaging Centre, who will introduce a European industry collaboration called PUMA (Packaging Upcyclable Materials Accelerator) whose mission is to end packaging that puts unnecessary stress on the environment.

For the first time, the largest resin producer in the Americas Braskem, is exhibiting at Tokyo Pack.

The focus for the company will be on its bio-based I'm Green​ polyethylene and EVA resins, which are recyclable and made from renewable and sustainably sourced sugarcane that claims a negative carbon footprint during cultivation.

On the theme of automation and robotics, The Kawada Robotics Nextage 'humanoid' robot will be on display to show visitors its expertise in packaging and packing and how it might ease the problem of labor shortages in Japan and around the world.

Other companies exhibiting include; ABB Robotics and Motion Division showcasing its Standing Pouch Casing Unit; Automated Packaging Systems (APS) compact tabletop packaging machine; modified atmosphere packaging technology by Multivac; Takeda Industry and a three-step pouch filling process by Nakajima Metal Leaf, Powder Company.

Saving food and waste will be a key theme of the show. Japanese industry specialities include precision engineering, active technologies in pack devices and smart films that draw on Japan's 50 pioneering years, in resealable systems for flexible plastics, and functional packaging papers and boards.

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