(Oct. 18) LAS VEGAS — For three days, talk of corrugated packaging, sustainability and food safety could be heard throughout Las Vegas.

About 24,000 Pack Expo attendees met Oct. 15-17 at the Las Vegas Convention Center — a 10% rise in registration from the 2006 show in Chicago, said Matt Croson, vice president of member services and communications for Arlington, Va.-based Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, which sponsors Pack Expo.

“It’s becoming more of a national show,” Croson said. “ … Companies can expect to find everything that has to do with packaging.”

Mel Meyer, salesman for St. Louis-based Shrink Tech Systems LLC, agreed with Croson and said the show is a good platform for uniting all segments of the packaging industry.

“From a food packaging and general packaging side, it’s a very valuable event for us and a good mixture of end users and distributors both looking for solutions,” said Meyer, who has attended Pack Expo for 17 years.

It also appears to be attracting increased interest from the fresh produce side, said Meyer, whose company is working to develop its shrink-wrapping business in the produce industry.

One hot topic that joins the fresh produce and packaging industries is sustainability, which garnered discussion in seminars in and was a buzz word on the 560,000-square-foot show floor with1,200 exhibitors, Croson said.

One in four companies used Pack Expo as an opportunity to introduce new or improved sustainable products and services.

Food safety also was an objective for companies and prevalent in sessions and discussions at the show, he said.

The packaging industry is very aware of recent E. coli outbreaks and has responded by engineering new processes to ensure the safety of packaging, Croson said.

One packaging solution in development that is designed to help prevent future outbreaks, is a pathogen alert system that will be installed in packages and will announce the presence of pathogens by changing color, Croson said.