K vs. Chinaplas vs. NPE

By various metrics, all three shows are growing, but which one is the biggest?


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Triennial vs. annual; 8 days vs. 5 days vs. 4 days; 1946 vs. 1971 vs. 1983; Düsseldorf vs. Orlando vs. Guangzhou vs. Shanghai.


Comparisons between the three largest plastics shows in the world are inevitable, if flawed, because apart from sharing a plastics focus, the events are very different in key facets. On April 26, Adsale, organizer of the annual Chinaplas show—which rotates between Guangzhou and Shanghai and began in 1983—wrapped up the largest ever version of the 4-day show, with 130,370 attendees visiting the Shanghai New International Expo Center (SNIEC). That crowd, which was more than 14% larger than the contingent that came to Guangzhou in 2013, had the chance to see more than 3000 exhibitors in 17 halls (plus 13 “temporary” halls on the show grounds).


Six months prior, the global plastics processing industry made its way to Düsseldorf, Germany and Messe Düsseldorf’s triennial K Show. Over 8 days in October, 218,000 visitors came through the turnstiles at the K, seeing as many of the 3000-plus exhibitors across 19 halls as possible.


A little over a year before, plastics people made their way to Orlando and the Society of the Plastics Industry’s triennial NPE, held over five days in April, and for the first time since 1971, at a location other than Chicago. From Monday to Friday, 55,359 registered attendees had the opportunity to visit with roughly 1,900 companies, with registrations for Orlando up 26% over 2009 and Chicago.


In 10 months, SPI’s anticipating an even larger NPE for its 28th iteration, with early attendee and exhibitor registrations tracking ahead of 2012, and some 2000 exhibitors and 60,000 attendees expected.


This list of top trade shows globally from 2011, ranked Chinaplas as No. 60 and K No. 13 on the basis of total area (256,796 m2 to 150,000 m2). The K made this Wikipedia list, but Chinaplas did not, and the only Chinese fair that did make it, Canton Fair, actually posted less visitors (192,000) then Chinaplas 2014.


If attendee impressions matter, more than a few folks in Shanghai said variations of “This feels bigger than K,” to me and I could offer little in the way of argument, at least in terms of how it “felt”. At the end of these massive shows—Orlando, Shanghai or Düsseldorf—my feet ache regardless of net exhibit space or exhibitors.


Stanley Chu, founder and Chairman of Chinaplas organizer, Adsale Group, acknowledged his event’s growth but deferred to K in terms of global dominance, calling his show the second largest plastics event globally. Asked whether Adsale might make the show longer, since it’s the shortest of the Big 3, Chu said that to this point, exhibitors have asked for longer move in days versus more exhibition days.


He then mentioned the new China International Exhibition Center in Bejing, which will cover 155.5 hectares, and according to Chu, could offer up to 400,000 m2 of indoor and 100,000 m2 of outdoor space, saying it will be the second or third largest exhibition center in the world. Could Chinaplas be moving?


“There are a lot of factors [Adsale] has to consider,” Chu said. “There are new possibilities in the future, but we have to be cautious.”