‘Hybrid’ format enables face-to-face meet at F&B show


Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt industries globally, a silver lining appeared last week in Thailand, with the staging of the 'hybrid' Thaifex-Anuga Asia F&B trade show. The new format consists of a physical show held for three days at the Impact Muang Thong Thani in Bangkok. It also featured virtual elements, such as webinars, live streaming and Virtual Meet, where exhibitors can meet with a curated group of 500 global buyers.
According to show organiser Koelnmesse, the annual show usually slated in May had to be rescheduled to September this year due to the pandemic.  Wendy Lim, general manager, Business Unit for Food and Food Technology, Koelnmesse, told Tasty Asia that it was challenging to find alternative dates that did not clash with other scheduled shows.
To obtain entry in Thailand, foreign business representatives need to stay in approved quarantine facilities. The organiser worked closely with the Thai authorities to ensure the health and safety of all attendees at the physical show. Rigorous precautionary measures were put in place to allow visitors to interact safely with exhibitors. It was also critical to have open communications with their stakeholders, including over 2,700 exhibitors — half of which were international participants.

Exhibitors 'appreciate' stringent measures
"The trade show's adapted format has allowed it to maintain the same rigour and wide selection of activities," Lim said. "Exhibitors shared that they appreciated the opportunity to interact with customers in-person as face-to-face interaction is often irreplaceable when it comes to networking in the F&B industry."
The new virtual elements also played a critical role for the exhibitors, said Lim. It enabled them to form valuable partnerships that transcend geographical borders, she revealed.
Credit also goes to the trust and smooth collaboration between the co-organisers. Managing the event with Koelnmesse was Thailand's Department of International Trade Promotion and the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Key takeaways
The staging this year's hybrid edition provided the organisers with valuable takeaways that they will build on to further improve future trade shows in the region.
"Keeping in mind that Thaifex-Anuga Asia is one of the first international trade shows to open in Thailand since COVID-19, we have established and shown how the F&B trade show landscape can digitally transform," Lim said.
She concluded: "We are sure that after seeing the event's success, many other trade shows will realise the value in adopting similar measures and programme enhancements."

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