Research published by Mintel this summer described snacking as a round-the-clock habit for Americans. While at least 94 percent snack at least once a day (up from 64 percent in 2014), Millennials are apparently the grazing generation, reporting at least four snacks a day. They’re craving convenience, according to Mintel, in the form of single-serve and reclosable packages.

PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2015 (Las Vegas Convention Center, Sept. 28-30), owned and produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, will open up a wealth of opportunities for baking-snack brand owners to tackle trends with tools such as automation to improve productivity, flexibility and efficiency, labeling systems that enhance flexibility and sustainability, and containers and materials to preserve freshness, reduce waste and enhance branding.

PACK EXPO Las Vegas will host 30,000 attendees and over 2,000 exhibitors in more than 800,000 net square feet of exhibit space.

“In addition to focusing on consumer trends, baking-snack professionals need to be up to speed on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which has changed the way you have to approach food safety during the manufacturing process. PACK EXPO will provide access to suppliers and education that will make compliance easier,” says Jim Pittas, senior vice president, PMMI.

Baking–snack manufacturers can start their trip around the show floor in areas like the Processing Zone (Upper South Hall), a hub for processing equipment suppliers, where they can also visit the Food Safety Summit Resource Center (Booth S-7632) for the latest on food safety issues and FSMA compliance. Organized and brought to PACK EXPO Las Vegas by the Food Safety Summit and co-sponsor GE, the Food Safety Summit Resource Center will be a central location for FSMA experts who will present educational seminars and be available for one-on-one consultations.

The Baking & Snack Break Lounge (Booth S-7427), hosted by the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers’ Association (B&CMA) is a key on-floor destination for strengthening connections. The beauty of this central meeting point is that bakers and snack manufacturers can network with experts and peers addressing similar trends and challenges — and find answers, notes Dave Van Laar, president, B&CMA.

“PACK EXPO is a vital part of our outreach to bakers and suppliers,” says Van Laar. “We not only provide a place for bakers to network, rest and regroup, we’ll also assist many of them in finding solutions to specific issues.”

B&CMA will host a reception for bakers and snack manufacturers at The Baking & Snack Break Lounge on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 3:30–5 p.m.

The Brand Zone (Lower South Hall), which features materials and containers that shape winning brands, is a central point for attendees looking to improve product freshness or shelf appeal. Within The Brand Zone, the Showcase of Packaging Innovations®, sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company, will display award-winning packages from competitions around the world.

There are plenty of opportunities to learn, too. The Center for Trends and Technology (Booth C-4829), organized by Rockwell Automation and its PartnerNetwork, covers the newest in automation technology with displays and educational sessions. The PACK EXPO Innovation Stages (Booths C-1041, C-1045, C-1049) will showcase more than 40 educational sessions, including these:

The Latest Snacking Trends and their Impact on Packaging Presented by Aaron Wallander, Bemis North America (Monday, Sept. 28; 2–2:30 p.m.; Booth C-1049)

Basic Production Metrics Presented by Dave Van Laar, president, B&CMA (Monday, Sept. 28, 3–3:30 p.m.; Booth C-1041)

Basic Project Economic Justification Presented by Dave Van Laar, president, B&CMA (Tuesday, Sept. 29, Noon–12:30 p.m.; Booth C-1041)