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"...with more passion and pride!"
"Dutch fresh produce industry should start profiling itself again.."
This year that will change with the first edition of The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference. "The Dutch fresh produce industry should start profiling itself again to the world at large," says exhibitor and sponsor of the inaugural APS, Nic Jooste of Cool Fresh International. "And we should certainly do it with more passion and pride!
"Many years ago we used to have the AGF Total, which was a big event with a lot of camaraderie among traders," Nic remembers. But that time is long gone. And although a great job is being done at the major international fairs like Fruit Attraction and Fruit Logistica, he maintains that these also have disadvantages. "At these mega-fairs one is part of an immense organisation, and everyone knows how difficult it is to stand out in a crowd,” he says.
In addition, the cost of these large-scale fairs are substantial. "As an exhibitor it easily costs around Euro 20,000 to have a stand, and if one goes bigger the amount becomes much, much more," Cool Fresh’s Managing Director Hugo Vermeulen says. "And then you have to hope that you stand out sufficiently in the crowd and are able to draw in visitors." With the smaller format of the London Produce Show and Conference, the efficiency of meeting people is much higher, while the costs are much lower. The small-scale character of the London show is described by its organisers as 'boutique’. "Everybody meets everybody," Hugo says, having exhibited at the 2016 edition of the LPS. "The organisers are committed to bringing a broad base of buyers from the retail, wholesale and foodservice sectors to the event, which creates many direct contacts. Due to the intimate nature of the exhibition you can physically see everyone who visits the fair, making it a very efficient model."
The iconic Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam is the venue for the 2016 Amsterdam Produce Show, which will be held from 2-4 November. According to Hugo this was a brilliant choice. "Let's face it: in addition to the commercial aspects it is also important for visitors that a trade fair is held in a city with a high cultural and entertainment factor. We have been to New York and London several times, and from a business perspective we have found that this model is much more direct, and creates high level contacts,” Hugo says.
This is one of the reasons why Cool Fresh International decided to sponsor the event. "At a business level the formula works extremely well in London and New York. And if the Americans and the British can host such an event, then the Dutch can do it as well!”
More than a trade show, the event in Amsterdam will have a unique, high knowledge content. The exhibition hall is limited, and composed around it is a comprehensive programme that gives substance to the four pillars of the show: sustainability, innovation, education and health. For these components a close co-operation has been set up with CSR Netherlands, TNO and Wageningen University and the HAS Agricultural College in Den Bosch. In addition to providing best practice examples, information on trends and developments, and presentations by speakers from various disciplines, the aim is also to generate interest from the younger generation for the fruit and vegetable sector.
Following the model of London and New York, a special programme for students has been established. There will also be an area where graduates can present their skills. And the involvement of the youth is sorely needed, according to Nic. "With all due respect, there are many older people working in the sector (myself included), while buyers and consumers are becoming younger. To attract young blood, we have to present ourselves as an exciting and dynamic sector to students, and hopefully our industry can be rejuvenated by attracting great young minds! "
In the so-called knowledge zones, a diverse range of topics will be covered by organisations and institutions that will present the latest research results in terms of food and fresh produce. "The level of knowledge in the Dutch food and fresh produce sector is phenomenal," Nic says. "We have never been exposed to this way of profiling our industry, and we are looking forward to the event with great enthusiasm”.
The organisers also hope to attract smaller players in the fresh produce sector in order to acquaint them with the newest developments. "It will be a great event, with high level input by leading knowledge institutions, as well as great food and entertainment. Most importantly you leave with a lot of knowledge and new contacts, and that is always a great feeling,” Hugo concludes.
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