Holiday greetings to you and yours,
As the year winds down, we turn the page on yet another dynamic year in the packaging industry. We started 2023 still in a fog of confusion brought on by the tumult of the last few years.
What had traditionally been a steady and reliable business to forecast had been shaken by COVID demand peaks and valleys, raw material shortages, cost spikes, and supply chain disruptions. The year now ending was yet another learning opportunity as the industry, newly bloated with inventory ‘just in case’, navigated through a cycle of lower demand as consumer spending navigated elsewhere.
While next year remains uncertain, I think we’d all agree it will likely be different than the last few, if the trend continues. It’s a challenge for most in the industry, no matter whether their tenure in packaging and printing inks has been long or short, as the pre-COVID world was much more straightforward and foreseeable.
While we work to understand the road ahead, I can also appreciate one of the things I really enjoy about the packaging industry: The longevity of its people and its traditions.
I wrote about this earlier in the year in relation to our Joncryl products’ role in shaping the printing ink market over the last several decades. I had the chance to take part in yet another annual milestone this past weekend as I attended the annual holiday party for the Chicago Printing Ink Production Club (CPIPC). Another great opportunity to connect with industry leaders and customers, the event is a festive way to end the year, often accompanied by at least one or more industry members up on stage performing some classic rock or holiday hit. I was also honored to be there to celebrate my colleague and friend, Dave Tappa, Technical Manager for Resins at BASF, who received the 2023 CPIPC supplier of the year award. He is a real champion of the industry and a true ‘inky’.
While I really enjoy the ability to network and participate in these NA industry events, I also have the great privilege of managing a diverse global team across several continents. I had the chance to talk with some of them in recent weeks and the subject of holiday traditions has often come up.
Growing up in Australia, with the holidays during the summer, I often tell folks that songs like ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Let It Snow’ never really made sense until I moved to the Northern Hemisphere. My colleagues in the Netherlands just celebrated the eve of St. Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, on December 5th, where they’re visited by the saint and his helpers. My German colleagues typically celebrate on Christmas Eve, December 24th, by decorating the tree and preparing a large meal, and perhaps my coworkers in Japan will be celebrating the holidays with some Kentucky Fried Chicken, as has become a tradition in that part of the world.
Wherever you are this holiday season, whichever your chosen holiday, and whatever your own special traditions, I hope that you and your loved ones have plenty of laughter and joy in the weeks ahead. I hope you’ve enjoyed my monthly posts and weak attempts at humor, and perhaps learned a thing or two about the world of packaging. I look forward to talking again in the new year.