UCIMA (Italian Packaging Machinery Manufacturers’ Association) is the national trade association that represents and supports the Italian packing and packaging machinery manufacturers. It has almost 200 member companies from all over the country, including the industry leaders. The highest concentration of members lies in the Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont regions. UCIMA member companies cover the entire range of packaging machinery production, from the food, confectionery and tobacco industries through to pharmaceuticals, chemicals, petrochemicals, cosmetics and end-of-line technologies. It maintains links with a variety of institutions and plays a major role in fostering the growth of the sector as a whole. Being part of a national and international network helps the association pursue initiatives and develop strategies for the sector. Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company? UCIMA: Technical and financial consulting, organisation of group participation in international trade fairs, lobbying and representation with national and international bodies and institutions, organisation of training courses, seminars and webinars, study and processing of sectoral data, and communication and promotion activities for the industry. E.E: What can you tell us about market trends? UCIMA: The industry has long been committed to environmental sustainability, seeking new solutions in terms of production processes and final packaging. It aims to achieve a production process with lower CO2 emissions, less consumption of material resources and the use of packaging obtained from renewable or recycled sources. The safety of packaged goods remains the industry’s overriding goal, especially in a world that according to United Nations forecasts will reach a population of almost 10 billion by 2050. The green credentials of packaging machinery and systems have been well established for years now, and the sector as a whole is recognised as a pioneer in the search for new environmentally friendly solutions. Another trend that has gained traction in recent years is that of Industry 4.0 and the adoption of increasingly interconnected, autonomous and digitally integrated machinery and equipment, thereby allowing for remote assistance. This technological progress proved particularly crucial during the long period of Covid-related travel restrictions. E.E: What estimations do you have for 2021? UCIMA: Based on the sample of companies monitored by the Mecs-Ucima research centre, the turnover of Italian packaging machine manufacturers remained in positive territory in the first quarter of 2021, with 9.2% growth over the same period in 2020. Order collection figures also saw further improvement in the first quarter of 2021, both at home and abroad, with an overall increase of 10.5% compared to the same period last year. Expectations for the coming months remain stable in both the domestic and export markets, with the outlook most positive in the Food, Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals sectors. As a result of these figures, guaranteed production has increased to 6.3 months compared to 5.6 months in December. The quarterly survey reveals greater dynamism in after-sales service than in direct sales of machinery.