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Vitafoods Europe exhibitors on the value of tradeshows

Nationwide lockdowns are challenging everyday life alongside business stability, revenue and operations. Tradeshows serve as centralised gathering points for industry professionals to come together, foster connections, generate new business and explore the latest in trends and innovation under one roof. Following the outbreak of coronavirus, or COVID-19, many tradeshows across myriad industries have taken tough decisions to protect the health and safety of visitors and to comply with government restrictions introduced to control spread.  Like other industries, the health and nutrition sector is turning to online solutions to supplement their businesses digitally and maintain as much human connection as possible—whether with clients, customers, partners or colleagues.

On 10 March, Vitafoods Europe made the decision to postpone its 2020 event to 1-3 September from the original 12-14 May dates. As a key gathering for the global nutraceutical industry, health and nutrition professionals understand the role that tradeshows such as Vitafoods Europe play in growing businesses and customer relationships. Following the live show’s postponement to September, we spoke to multiple companies about the in-person impact and how they’re keeping business ticking along during this challenging period.

“The opportunity in the first half of the year to meet with clients and other stakeholders undoubtably supports business growth,” says Irene Cisma Diaz of Atlantia Food Trials. “The event provides a current snapshot of the industry, including trends, competitors and new products releases over three days—that kind of market understanding could take even several weeks of research without the live event.”

The feelings are the same for Eleonora Falco, marketing manager with Giellepi SpA, says Vitafoods Europe is an unrepeatable opportunity to meet leading companies, start-ups and experts from both ingredient and finished product sectors.

Evolva’s marketing director, David Tetzlaf, observes that tradeshows provide an optimal opportunity for the business to share its resveratrol prototypes and receive instant feedback on format and taste. Despite tradeshow postponements, Evolva is still moving forward with its latest product development and looking to host webinars, create videos and publish infographics to reach existing and new customers.

"We fully support the decision of the Vitafoods Europe postponement as the wellbeing of the population must come first," says Chris Meaney, head of business development at Cambridge Nutraceuticals. Despite plans to use the spring event as an opportunity to promote the company's new research surrounding LactoLycopene formulation in front of the entire supply chain, Cambridge Nutraceuticals will still push ahead through other means.

“The postponement of Vitafoods Europe was amongst the most acute indicators that 2020 would unfold differently than planned,” says Jörg Büttinghaus, VP sales & marketing at Kappa Bioscience. “COVID-19 highlighted both our responsibility as global citizens to prevent the spread, and our business’s responsibility to society as a supplier of food and health ingredients. It’s been imperative to structure continuous business as best we can until normality returns later in the year—including the resumption of tradeshows where we conduct a good deal of our business.” For Kappa Bioscience, Büttinghaus attributes critical success factors to the face-to-face interactions with global customers and partners that tradeshows provide.

Astaxanthin producer AstaReal shares that some of the product launches set for Vitafoods Europe in May will move forward in the interim, but the company will also have new-to-market releases for the show taking place in September. “During this time, it’s important for our industry to adapt to the new reality of fewer in-person opportunities and find other ways to explore new product concepts,” says Andie Long, sales and marketing manager. “Of course, this includes digital means – although challenging, this will be an excellent opportunity for our industry to come together and connect while travel and tradeshow activities are paused.”

While Lycored values the human-to-human business approach that tradeshows offer, Ricardo Kaduoka, business development manager, notes: “While it’s great to launch a new product live at an event like Vitafoods Europe, we won’t be holding off our latest product at a time of uncertainty. The show must go on and we’ll be using other channels to spread the word.” Kaduoka references the brand’s ‘Lycopedia,’ an interactive hub that documents lycopene at different stages of life.

New product development supervisor at Bioriginal, Vincent van Dijk, highlights the opportunity to optimise product launches at the show through live speaking opportunities—such as the Sports Ingredients Theatre, which is free-to-attend for all visitors. “We planned to launch a new and patented product at Vitafoods Europe, and we are still going to move forward with the launch in the next few months as well as have it as a product of focus at the September show,” he adds.

Mateo Ocáriz González-Sarasa, international business manager at noVadiet, highlights Vitafoods Europe for its specialised nature and professionality of attendees. He adds that despite noVadiet’s existing digital business infrastructure and comfort with remote work, the brand is built upon in-person and fluent communication values. “We do not understand business without personal relation. Companies are managed by people, goals are achieved by passion—and it’s difficult to build trust and engagement without human connection.”

In his position as EMEA & Asia business development manager at NSF International, Martin Krainz says, “Tradeshows like Vitafoods Europe, Vitafoods Asia and Health Ingredients Europe are important for us to support our long-term strategy of establishing our brand in the European and Asian markets.” As NSF International is working on a customised solution tailored for the European market, the business plans to wait for the postponed dates to launch its new service. Pertaining to new digital strategies to support services, Krainz notes delivering remote facility audits and using video conferencing in place of in-person meetings as some of their temporary solutions.

Alongside commercial interest, exploring innovation and new R&D developments are a crucial part of the show, says Franco Madea, head of Pharma Division at Domaco. Technical teams have the opportunity to see, touch and taste what other businesses are developing and launching to market, which informs future formulation and product development.

Coming from roots in Japanese research-driven manufacturing company, Filip Van Hulle, who is senior manager at Kaneka Pharma Europe, says Vitafoods Europe allows the business to introduce clients, colleagues and customer prospects to their Japanese colleagues. He adds that while Kaneka Pharma Europe plans to delay some of its launches to September, there’s an opportunity during the interim period to share more information about ingredient and product origin and safety.

Sarah Christianslund, product marketing manager of Epax Omega-3 at Pelagia, emphasises that connections are everything. “Beyond the return of investment from tradeshows, it’s important for us to use the event to connect with our colleagues, meet up with industry friends from around the world, and stay up-to-date on the latest developments.”

Even associations are missing the in-person opportunity. Ellen Schutt, executive director of GOED, comments: “GOED continues its day-to-day business without a big impact due to COVID-19, as many staff already work from home offices. We have also heard that the omega-3 supply chain is doing well, demand is steady if not increased, and shipments are going out. It remains to be determined what the future will hold for GOED members, as shows provide many new potential business interactions for GOED and are a good source of connections for members that join us in our pavilions.”

Despite uncertainties pertaining to daily life, travel and business operations in the coming weeks and although tradeshows are postponed to later in the year, one thing is universally certain: the value of personal connections and human-to-human meetings are emphasised more than ever before as the backbone of healthy business relationships, sustainable practices and commercial success.

TAGS: Supply Chain
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