Food event picture mixed as coronavirus spreads

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

The salon de l'agriculture event in Paris closed early last week due to fears over the spread of coronavirus.
The salon de l'agriculture event in Paris closed early last week due to fears over the spread of coronavirus.

Related tags coronavirus Trade Vitafoods europe Expo west

As the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak spreads, food trade events are being affected.

However, while some events have been cancelled, others remain open as planned; some with coronavirus information and others without. Websites are being updated relatively frequently, with company and event social media posts seeming to be a quicker way to access information.

DairyReporter was at the salon du fromage and salon de l’agriculture in Paris last week, an event that was cut short as the Porte de Versailles venue closed its doors early. Workers at the famous Louvre Museum in Paris also walked out, forcing its closure.

However, a visit to the exhibition center website reveals that other shows at the Paris venue in March are currently going ahead as planned.

In Rennes, France, the CFIA trade show is also going ahead, with an information page on the virus on its site.

Bellavita-INTERNORGA Hamburg, a foodservice and hospitality show that also showcases Italian food, is going ahead from March 13-17, with a page of safety precautions on coronavirus. The event attracted more than 93,000 visitors in 2018.

In Berlin, however, the ITB Berlin travel trade show has been cancelled.

In Asia, many events have simply been cancelled, including Foodex Japan.

Food&HotelAsia (FHA) has been postponed. FHA has expanded into two distinct events – FHA-HoReCa and FHA-Food & Beverage. Both the events have been postponed, with FHA-HoReCa to be held in July 2020, and FHA-Food & Beverage to be held in March 2021.

Switzerland, which borders one of the virus hotspots in northern Italy, has restricted gatherings to less than 1,000 people, causing all its soccer fixtures to be cancelled this weekend. The Geneva Motor Show was also cancelled. In spite of this, Vitafoods, which takes place at the same Palexpo venue in May, says it’s business as usual – at the moment.

On its website, there is a statement on Covid-19, on hygiene, and the organizers state, “As such, for now, customers can be reassured that while we are monitoring the situation as an international business and staying up to date on official sources of updates and guidance from the government and authorities, it’s entirely business as usual for our events.”

Its neighbors, Austria, are also monitoring the situation but events such as Kulinarik in Salzburg, from March 20-22, are still going ahead, with the event website echoing others with the current World Health Organisation guidelines on how to prevent the spread of the virus front and center.

One of the world’s largest packaging events, Interpack, which takes place in May in Düsseldorf, Germany, said there are no intentions to postpone the trade fair.

“We will re-evaluate the situation in good time in consultation with health authorities and partners in order to make the appropriate decisions,” organizers stated.

“As exhibitors and visitors, you can expect a high level of hygiene, safety and good medical care at the Düsseldorf trade fair grounds as usual. Messe Düsseldorf is closely monitoring current developments and is in direct contact with the health authorities.

“According to the World Health Organization, the Robert Koch Institute and the German authorities, the risk of infection with this new pathogen in Germany is currently low to moderate.  The medical facilities at the Düsseldorf exhibition centre have the latest information at all times and are well prepared. There are clearly defined procedures for looking after anyone on the premises of the trade fair grounds who suddenly develops symptoms of a serious disease. These procedures were developed and tested at the time of SARS, the Influenza A (H1N1) virus and also EHEC.”

In Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, the Vegan Expo slated for March 14-15 is off.

Food Expo Greece has shifted its dates to May 16-18.

Tavola 2020, taking place in Belgium from March 15-17, is still going ahead, but recommends anyone who has stayed in an area at risk 14 days prior to the event, is requested not to attend. It forwards potential attendees to a link at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, however, this does not give a definitive list of these at-risk areas.

While the US has so far seen relatively few cases of the virus, its effects are already being seen with the cancellation of some trade shows.

Expo West, in Anaheim, California, said it is pressing ahead with the show, but expects an attendance drop of between 40-60%.

It is also asking those traveling from countries with a CDC Level 3 travel restriction to not make the trip.

The venue is adding washing stations outside and hand sanitizing stations in the convention center in addition to the existing ones provided by the building; plus adding hand sanitizing stations in the Marriott and Hilton Hotels.

Cleaning of all high-traffic areas will take place multiple times daily in addition to the standard overnight cleaning.

In spite of this, more than 100 companies have already pulled out of attending, including Unilever, Bolthouse Farms, Casa del Gelato, Whole Foods Market, General Mills, Ingredion, Icelandic Milk & Skyr Corporation, Nestle Innovation, Oatly and Reckitt Benckiser.





Related topics Regulation & Safety Nestlé Unilever

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1 comment

Peer support community for events organisers affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Posted by Michelle Goodall,

It's an extremely difficult time for all industries and sectors - events are the life blood of new business generation, and they simply can't be beaten for face-to-face networking. So many satellite businesses are affected too and don't forget the staff at the venues, hotels and logistics providers who are having to be stood down.

To try to help events organisers, of any size, across the globe we have set up CREO (Coronavirus Response for Event Organisers) as a peer support group for anyone due to run an event in the next 6 months.

The group has >230 members within 1 week of set up. Members include event organisers from around the world as well as professional membership associations for event organisers. Specialist experts on PR, comms, crisis management, legal, insurance, health and safety etc. have also been invited into the community to help.

The CREO community is crowd-sourcing an open source document (the "CREO Manual") to capture the collective advice, resources and insights generated. It includes:

Official data & guidance
Comms, PR & crisis management
Virtual event tech
Logistics & venues
Financial mitigation
Insurance & legal
Health & safety
Other resources
How to join CREO

This is publicly available for anyone to read and share and the link to the open source document and invite link to the CREO peer-support community if you are an events organiser affected by COVID-19 can be found here:

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