FAKUMA
Talks among the like-minded in days of crisis / A look back at the industry event in Germany
Trade exhibitions in times of crisis are a bit tricky. Beforehand, nobody really knows whether the event will work. And afterwards, everyone claims to have known what was going to happen.

Trade fair organisers do not have it easy. One must only consider how much doom and gloom was prophesied last autumn ahead of Germany’s K Show in Düsseldorf! And then…euphoria and optimism at the fair in Rhine River country.

Flags fly high in Germany at Fakuma 2023 (Photo: Schall-Messen)


Ahead of this year’s Fakuma (www.fakuma-messe.de) in Friedrichshafen, Germany, the atmosphere was very similar. The Ukraine war approaching its third year, the world economy screeching to what may be a halt, German politics appear to be paralysed, and if that were not enough, the murderous terror of the Hamas against Israel also brought public life to the boil, not only in the Middle East but also in Europe. 

All these were certainly not good prerequisites for an industry event that aims to spread optimism and a desire to do business. Even shortly before the official opening of the exhibition, the predictions outdid each other in the gloominess of the forecasts. This or that company, it was said, had spontaneously decided not to even bother setting out for the event. The final demise of the industry rendezvous seemed to be not far away. 

Then came 17 October: blue skies and sunshine over the exhibition site, spring-like temperatures, a good mood, happy faces, the joyful anticipation of meeting up again with colleagues, business partners, and even competitors they had grown fond of, plus the desire for talks with like-minded people were all tangible. 

In all twelve halls, there was plenty going on for all five days of the show. Yes, it is true that, at the fairs before the pandemic, the corridors were somewhat fuller (2023: 39,343 visitors, 2018: 47,650). Yes, it is also true that the number of exhibitors was larger before Covid-19 (2023: 1,636 exhibitors, 2018: 1,933). And yes, there can be no denying that, in many corners of the exhibition, company representatives were still hoping – so far in vain – for some customers to pay a visit to their stands. At the off-peak times, there was certainly plenty of opportunity to relax. 
Light at the end of the tunnel
Yet, after all that, the concept of the trade fair was a success. Hands were shaken everywhere, meetings were set, and discussions held. That the crises of today – both economic and political – were in the foreground is not surprising. For nearly four years now, an exceptional situation has prevailed in the plastics industry. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. The companies have to push their business to the limit at all times, and that impacts everyone. 

Despited the pressures of the day to day, there was little sign of collective moping in Friedrichshafen. On the contrary: the vast majority of the companies do not want to hear any more about apocalypse and downfall. Resignation is not a business model. Instead, they cultivated the principle of hope. It was frequently heard that, in the second quarter of 2024, the tide will begin to turn. Many a quibbler may dismiss this as wishful thinking, but not only stock market experts know that positive economic development cannot be made to happen by the grouchy, but it can only come about if the prevailing mood is positive. And this goal was certainly reached at Fakuma 2023. 

 
25.10.2023 Plasteurope.com [253866-0]
Published on 25.10.2023
Fakuma: Rückblick auf das Branchentreffen am BodenseeGerman version of this article...

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