K Fair is more than a trade show. It is a behemoth to rival any other.
Billed as the world’s largest plastics and rubber show, this year’s eight-day K Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany — which ended Wednesday — packed 3,285 exhibitors in 1.8 million square feet of space spread through 19 huge halls.
Companies display their latest innovations, from Wacker Chemie AG’s 3-D silicone printer to Covestro’s fashion samples to a type of polypropylene made by LyondellBasell for vehicle interiors that looks like fabric, but is easier to make and keep clean.
Attendance reached 230,000, up 5.5% from 2013. Show organizers say the second day, Oct. 20, had the highest amount of single-day foot traffic at 45,000 visitors.
While companies vie to have the brightest lights, most eye-catching displays and even the best snacks to attract current and potential customers to their booths, some say the fair has grown so big and unwieldy that it’s a sustained sprint and hundreds rush the Dusseldorf airport after the third day, having taken all the meetings and walked all the miles they can manage.
“We’ve been here three days, that’s more than enough,” said Rolf Hutten, executive vice president of PolyTrade, a Frankfurt-based spot petrochemical trading firm with offices in Asia, Russia, Central America and South America.
“So far it has been basically satisfactory. We have not made any new business, but we met with our customers. This is the one time we can get everyone in the same place,” Hutten said.
For Jason Jun, a petrochemicals trader running his own shop at J&J Chem & Steel in Seoul, Korea, K Fair is all meetings, from dawn to dusk. He trades all sorts of polymers and is always seeking insight on prices as well as new partners.
“It’s so huge, I don’t see much of it — I’m in meetings all the time,” he said.
K Fair, which takes place every three years in Dusseldorf, spouts big numbers. This year’s fair had visitors from 160 countries. Halls are large enough to hose huge machines, such as a Dow Chemical film blower, as well as vehicles with strategic displays of plastic parts to cut weight and increase efficiency.