Kodak drops out of drupa 2021 too

International exhibitions need to strike a delicate balance with digital

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Jim Continenza CEO of Kodak Photo printbusiness.uk
Jim Continenza CEO of Kodak Photo printbusiness.uk

In a press release dated 24 September 2020, Kodak reveals that it has made the decision to withdraw from Drupa 2021. “Kodak’s commitment to the safety of our employees and customers during the Covid-19 pandemic is paramount. The continued concerns and impacts of the pandemic make it difficult for us to commit resources for such an event in these uncertain times,” said Jim Continenza, executive chairman, Eastman Kodak Company.

The release says, Kodak will continue to invest in the print industry, and doubling down on digital print and delivering the products its customers need to drive productivity and growth as the industry evolves. The announcement by Kodak makes it the seventh announcement by a major industry player to pull out of drupa 2021 by our reckoning although there may be more.

Our two cents on the Kodak withdrawal from drupa 21

The organizers have themselves declared that drupa 2021 will be a hybrid physical and digital event and Kodak’s withdrawal strengthens the digital and virtual outlook. To recite the list of withdrawals once again it was Bobst and Xerox who were the first to quit the event. Next came Heidelberg and Manroland Sheetfed followed by Komori. The latest was Screen in the first week of September and now it is Kodak in the third week of September.

Apart from the cost of exhibiting, the already considerable uncertainty of who will attend international exhibitions is increased by the uncertainties of the pandemic. The spread, recoveries, fatalities, and resources vary in each country, city, and region. When there are containment areas and quarantines for travelers within a country, international travel protocols are bound to be complicated beyond mere visas, quarantine regulations, and air connections. The risks of virus resurgence and that of travelers falling ill in a foreign country, together with the fact that they were the initial super spreaders, means that organizers need to strike a delicate balance.

In an interview, Markus Heering of the German VDMA said that drupa will have to have a virtual or digital component since so many will not attend. And the organizers have acceded to this and the slightly abbreviated physical event will take from 20 to 28 April 2021. With the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic still affecting large regions, including India, with an exponential increase in infections, and a second and third wave in several countries in Europe, it seems that the industry will have to look beyond 2021 and possibly to the more local and regional demonstration and training centers and events.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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