Robert Miller, right, facilities/operations manager for Mariani Packing Co. Inc., Vacaville, Calif., talks with Steve Austin, center, chief engineer of Folsom, Calif.-based West Link, California agent of Minneapolis-based Thermo Scientific, and others at the Thermo Scientific booth at Pack Expo.
Robert Miller, right, facilities/operations manager for Mariani Packing Co. Inc., Vacaville, Calif., talks with Steve Austin, center, chief engineer of Folsom, Calif.-based West Link, California agent of Minneapolis-based Thermo Scientific, and others at the Thermo Scientific booth at Pack Expo.

LAS VEGAS — Pack Expo 2011 might as well have been called Packed Expo.

There were no signs of any recession here, fresh produce-related companies found as the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s three-day convention began Sept. 26 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“This is the best foot traffic, especially for the first day, that I’ve seen at any show in about two years. And we go to all the big produce shows, including PMA (the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit),” said Derek Hannum, marketing director of CHEP, Orlando, Fla.

While Hannum helped man the CHEP exhibitor booth, potential buyers like Julia Inestroza, marketing director of Gourmet Trading Co., Los Angeles, reported similar shock and awe at what the show had to offer.

Inestroza, too, said she thought the traffic was “every bit that of a PMA show,” after she had walked the show floor.

Pack Expo organizers reported record-breaking numbers, with “more exhibitors, more exhibit space (and) more solutions” than ever before. Attendance numbers, however, were not immediately available. About 45,000 attended the 2010 Pack Expo in Chicago.

“By bringing processing and packaging solutions all under one roof, Pack Expo offers attendees an opportunity to look at the whole line when addressing challenges in efficiency, speed and sustainability,” Charles Yuska, president and chief executive officer of PMMI, said in a news release.

About 1,600 exhibitors, using more than 600,000 square feet of exhibit space highlighted the show, which also featured special pavilions geared to processing, branding, reusable packaging and other segments.

Next year’s Pack Expo is scheduled for Oct. 28-31, 2012, at McCormick Place in Chicago.