The future of F&B events after COVID-19 disruption

As the pandemic continue to disrupt F&B events across the globe, show organisers face a huge dilemma: How to manage future F&B gatherings safely under post-COVID 19 scenarios?
According to the industry experts at this week’s Food Travel Talk TV, expect more challenges ahead, even as F&B industries worldwide are still dealing with fallouts caused by the pandemic. Food Travel Talk TV is a monthly online show organised by the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) where industry thought leaders, opinion makers and trendsetters discuss pressing industry issues. This month's edition explored the effects of the pandemic on how event organisers produce, and how consumers experience, future culinary events, festivals and fairs, and farmers markets. The speakers were Lucy Charles, director, Events and Operations, London Borough Market; Mike McCloud, president and founder, World Food Championships; Lionel Chee, owner of Culinary Culture Concepts Events & Training and Casa Bom Vento Express Hawker Stand; and Steven Wood Schmader, president and CEO, International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA).
The speakers shared that COVID-19 had a significant impact on the events and operations that they managed. Shows got cancelled and footprints reduced. Organisers implemented segmentation or dividing attendance hours into time blocks (AM and PM) to control the number of visitors entering venues and enforcing other health safety rules.
According to IFEA’s Schmader, the future of F&B events will be more scaled-down, as it may take years before mass gatherings are safe again. Even the means of travelling to these shows may prove difficult with the number of health checks and safety rules travellers must undergo before reaching their destinations. There is also the food, which is the star of these events. The challenge now is how to implement new food safety procedures in food service, he said.
Another critical challenge: Educating audiences not only on what to expect when attending future events but making them understand that they should adhere to the new health safety procedures. Lastly, the speakers feel that the future of F&B-themed events would become smaller, more localised and even niche. Digital technology usage will be the norm, and most gatherings would occur in virtual space. 
The next Food Travel Talk TV session is on 15th July 2020. For more details, visit the WFTA website.

More tradeshows in Asia morphing into virtual festivals

With their major F&B shows cancelled or re-scheduled for next year, organisers of Asian F&B shows have begun to hold virtual events to engage with their visitors. Recently, Informa Markets, which presents the biennial Food&HotelAsia (FHA) in Singapore, presented its first Food & Hotel Digital Week. The virtual show aims to uncover new opportunities for businesses as the industry readies to enter new normal. The five-day event comprises of online product showcases and webinars featuring industry experts discussing topics such as Food Security, Business Intelligence to Food-Tech and Sustainability and Foodservice.
"I believe these virtual events are here to stay and in time will truly complement our physical events to help businesses in their recovery and growth post-pandemic," said Ian Roberts, managing director - Hospitality, Food & Beverage, Informa Markets. 
The next Food & Hotel Digital Week is from the 13th until 17th July 2020. For more information, visit the FHA Digital Week website.

Meanwhile, the upcoming Future Tea & Coffee Summit and Expo 2020 promises to present an enhanced and transformed tradeshow integrating new digital experiences designed to circumvent potential disruptions and embrace new paradigms in the food supply chain systems. Aside from virtual networking and webinars for tea and coffee industry players, a key highlight of this show is the ProfilePrint, a digital food standard based on rapid and non-destructive fingerprinting technology. This digital standard will enable buyers and sellers to ascertain the grade and quality of tea or coffee without the need for physical samples. The new technology can also help facilitate transactions, as well as arming the show with the ability to respond to the absence of taste and touch, a disadvantage yet to be overcome by most virtual expositions. The event is on the 24th to 26th June 2020. More details on this link:

(Image from Unsplash)

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