A miracle with print in Kerala

On the eve of the Print and Beyond full-day seminar, O Venugopal, director of Anaswara shares his Print Miracle 2023 report. Also the master printer provides a peek into what’s happening in Kerala’s print circle

24 Feb 2023 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Print Miracle Expo 2023 was the third edition hosted by KMPA in association with Showcase Trade Fairs and Business Media

What were the trends during the Print Miracle show?
One of the key trends was how digital is entering into print, pre-press and even post-press areas. From an industry point of view, it is slowly starting to dawn that merely putting ink on paper may be of no value in future.

How so?
To begin with, there’s no denying that the traditional method of creating and distributing information, like we used to do with print, is changing rapidly. Hence print will have to create unique and engaging products that stand out. Print service providers will have to offer customisation, embellishing options, and interactive elements to its customers.

A word about the orders booked during the show?
As per the feedback from the exhibitors, the show has generated a business of Rs 20-cr to Rs 30-crore by way of sales. PrintWeek has covered some of these installations in its February print issue.

Which were the demos at Print Miracle?
Digital stole the show. Most of the digital manufacturers participated in the show with their key products. It was a golden opportunity for the small print players to learn more about the recent developments in the industry. There were reasonable enquiries, the exhibitors reported. There were also some exciting developments in the post-press and finishing segments, and at affordable prices.

How have your relationships with exhibitors and their expectations of you as a trade show organiser changed since the past few editions?
Most of the exhibitors rated the visitors as "excellent" in a post-show survey the KMPA conducted. The survey revealed that the show presented it as an ideal environment for companies to address their intended target groups.

And visitors' feedback?
The attendees of Print Miracle Expo 2023 were very happy with the wide range of exhibits. They were particularly pleased with the technology, innovation and solutions on show. They felt it was time well-spent.

That's good feedback.
Yes, in addition to the technology and innovation, Print Miracle Expo 2023 brought several educational offerings to attendees. A few print education institutions, associations and academies who were present at the show imparted value-based knowledge to visitors.

How did Print Miracle engage with the visitors from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka?
There was big participation from states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Some delegates came all the way from Jharkhand and Gujarat too. A lot of enquiries and business deals happened. One trend I notice is, most printers are thinking about upgrading their units.

Manufacturers continue to improve product lines and services. What is the work that has been going on in the manufacturer's factories across India (and perhaps the globe) despite the numerous economic, political, and supply chain challenges of the past 2-3 years?
Print will never die. Print products have to be identified through innovations and technology. There is a huge opportunity in this market. Manufacturers are thinking along those lines, and there is a bright future for those who invest wisely and consistently.

 Print has faced many challenges in recent times, but as a print firm CEO, what were the biggest opportunities for visitors to help them overcome the challenges at Print Miracle?
Awareness of new technology and knowledge of recent developments is of great importance. We have to create a fruitful market by producing innovative products and ideas. Try and understand what’s happening in the industry in which a print service provider is serving.

Take, for example, the chocolate industry. It is a fragile product that needs protection. India is a country with a warm climate. As a packaging provider, we can always find ways of developing a package that can protect against physical damage, and also keep it safe from temperature changes. What I am driving at is: think differently, gain knowledge and adopt the right technology fit.

How can manufacturers better help printers and converters navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities in 2023?
India is also growing through quality, consistency, and reliability in every field. Hence the manufacturers have to develop cost-effective quality machines with user-friendly operations capabilities.

Is the Kerala print and packaging industry still sailing in unsteady waters?
No. The print and packaging industry is growing. Kerala is a growing market, so there is tremendous scope for specialisation, which each printer should identify and keep a space for itself in the market.

In what way?
Although there is a considerable dip in commercial printing here, the print companies are knocking at different doors for other opportunities. New publishers are entering the market. The  book market is flourishing. Quantity may be less, but new titles are there.

What about packaging?
Packaging is another area. The segment has huge potential, but it is not everyone’s cup of tea. There’s a risk-to-reward ratio that must be kept in mind, besides some internal infrastructural changes.

And finally, is Print Miracle doing or will be doing any project about sustainability and the circular economy?
Of course, Print Miracle Expo is one among them. KMPA is keenly observing the changes happening in the world of print. We have already taken initiatives to spread public awareness that paper is the most sustainable and recyclable product compared to digital gadgets.