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Another Reality about this Year

from the publisher

I am not going to kid you…when it comes to the international food industry, I've been feeling disconnected, unplugged and basically "out of it". No…I'm still in contact with my suppliers along with some of my best subscribers who are buyers. And I have been able to work closer on the needs of my advertisers that I may not have had time to do so in the past. So the motivation to write hard hitting publisher's statements have become a little more difficult. I need to be out there! I know many of my associates agree with me. They also attend food expos, trade missions and sales trips. Like myself, we get the feel for what is going on out there. Domestic trips and food expos are my main avenues for person-to-person contact. It still supersedes all other methods of contact in my opinion.

So let me re-emphasize the importance in getting back out there. Since the major food expos have been cancelled this year, this disconnect from the industry and individuals is very apparent. The expos are important for meeting new U.S. exporters and new international buyers who then become subscribers. It's also a way to visit with people you've had business relationships for years and the proximity of so many you know is extremely convenient.

Most importantly the food shows keep your pulse on the worldwide industry. Once you cease attending food expos…you lose touch with important issues and events on the international stage that has real impact on the U.S. exporter or the entire related industry. For instance, the SIAL Paris food expo would be held in late October. The attendees and visitors on average number well over 100,000 and runs 5 days. It is Europe's largest and most well attended food exposition of the year. The only show that is larger would be ANUGA in Germany. They run every other year. The event itself enables you to gauge the issues in European trade and the success US exporters are having in Europe. Some products move and others don't. This is a great testing ground for new product introduction.

Now you combine that with the food shows in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Middle East…you can learn very much from attending one expo in each region. Then came 2020 and COVID-19. The last expo I attended was the Gulfood Expo in Dubai back in February. And at that time…you could feel the tension in the building. A few of my contacts mentioned that this will probably be the last food expo for the year. I was skeptical…no way this will knock out the entire year. It can't be that bad…wrong! It was that bad. The Natural Food Expo and FOODEX Japan were the first to cancel. And then SIAL China and FHA were next. And finally the SIAL Paris and America's Food and Beverage were shelved.

I can completely understand why they cancelled these shows. First strike is that it's international travel which exposes you to many more people and places. The other strike was our limited knowledge about the virus. However, we have learned a lot since the initial outbreak. I recently traveled and I have to say the airlines have it down to an art form. I was very impressed with the cleanliness, distancing and protocol the airline took to make sure I traveled with minimal concern. To put it simply…we've come a long way since the dark days of mid-March.

So now comes the Gulfood Expo 2021. Is it cancelled or delayed? Not sure yet but they have not said otherwise. I'm sure we will hear about its status shortly. The vaccine is now out there but a lot of people are holding off on it until they feel it is safe. I'm not going to fool myself into think that everything is okay. Even if the Gulfood is on…I don't attend until I know what protocol they have in place when I enter the show. All I can say is that my first international trip I take is going to feel very strange and a little weird. And with that, I hopefully will see you on the road.


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