China has me under its spell again, and I am looking forward to the food, the people. This time however, there is no Editourmobil, because I had to re-arrange some appointments from our tour which for various reasons did not take place. These appointments were spread across the entire east coast, which meant a lot of extensive pre-planning to co-ordinate planes, trains and hotel bookings. Almost unheard of in these days when every trip seems to be tidily packaged.
Almost every day a different hotel, suitcase after suitcase to … .. the railway station, then to the appointment and all this in a country where you don’t speak the language and you can’t read any signs. But our experience time and again is that people are friendly and do all they can to understand you and somehow everything works out well …. so little by little I’m warming to China.
But now something different. Actually, I’m here because I am keen to get to know the PET world. I use the weekend to take a look at brewing equipment manufacturers. I would like to build a small brewery in Europe. Why not with Chinese machinery? Here I experience how comprehensively the Chinese look after their customers, how they respond to their needs and how they weld and polish stainless steel to a very high level of quality. The time is long past when Asia was notorious for the poor quality of their steel. I am curious to see what sort of deals they come up with when their quotes reach me.
For the first few days I spend time at the PET packaging conference of CCFEI. As we have already reported in PETplanet, these are difficult times for the beverage sector at the moment, and especially so for the machine manufacturers. At the meeting, I learn that the raw material side is also experiencing some pain. Not only the domestic market, but also the export side is not running according to plan. Higher exchange rates, increased freight costs and a number of anti-dumping laws overseas are not making life easy. Despite the current gloomy business prospects, the future is looking positive. The Chinese view is that the current situation represents a period of consolidation. They consider that overall, prospects are good.
The postponed appointments during the following week confirm the positive mood. Everywhere plants are expanding, or new factory buildings are going up, and new machines are already being unveiled. In 2017 we will see increased activity. But more on that later in PETplanet Insider.