2020 promises to be an exceptional trade fair year. Since many events have already been cancelled or postponed, others are switching to virtual solutions. One trade fair that will continue to be held on its original date is the Fruit Attraction that will take place in Madrid at the end of October. Some German exhibitors will also be there - others have now cancelled their participation.
FreshPlaza spoke with Labinot Elshani, the chairman of Landgard eG. Landgard has not booked its own stand at this year's Fruit Attraction, but is participating in the German joint stand of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), which was set up on the initiative of the Bundesvereinigung der Erzeugerorganisationen Obst und Gemüse e.V. (BVEO), which is taking place at this year's Fruit Attraction for the first time.
Labinot Elshani (Photo: © Landgard / Nikelowski)
What is your opinion of the date of the fair? Do you think it would have made sense to postpone the fair or would you have preferred a cancellation?
"There are plausible arguments for each of the options mentioned. The decisive factor is the development the virus in Spain and specifically in Madrid. At present, the situation surrounding the corona pandemic in Spain is gradually easing and in some parts of the country, it is reported, trade fair operations are resuming with reduced capacity for participants. Messe Madrid is currently assuming that the Fruit Attraction can take place as planned - naturally in compliance with strict infection control and hygiene measures. In principle, we welcome the fact that the international trade fair business is also gradually gaining momentum again, within the framework of the opportunities presented by the current infection situation and the official measures derived from it. Should the situation deteriorate again, it would have to be dealt with appropriately and responsibly at this time."
Now, in times of the corona virus, what needs to be taken into account when preparing for the trade fair? How does the preparation differ from the normal course of events?
"Of course, the preparation for the trade fair differs considerably from the years before. In addition to our own protective measures, we are primarily guided by the requirements of the Madrid Trade Fair Centre and the BMEL. The Fruit Attraction is to take place with a reduced number of participants and in compliance with strict infection protection and hygiene measures such as distance rules or a limited number of participants per square metre. This year, the usual accompanying network meetings will mainly be digital. All in all, it is important to implement the requirements of the Spanish government."
Do you see virtual solutions as alternatives for the large fairs?
"Due to the corona pandemic, almost the entire global economy is currently undergoing a rapid learning process in the area of digital working. This naturally also affects the design of the large international trade fairs. The Madrid trade fair will expand its digital offering for Fruit Attraction and, for example, will for the first time provide a parallel B2B eMeeting service to enable international exchange on a digital level as well. This combination of a presence event and digital forum is an interesting prospect for us as to how the international trade fair industry will perhaps develop in the future as a whole and even more strongly than at present. However, the digitalisation of the trade fair industry will never be able to completely replace the direct exchange with business partners and customers at the trade fair stand."
Do you think that many foreign visitors will still come, even from further away? Is it worthwhile to exhibit there at all?
"Of course there will be visitors and also exhibitors who will stay away from the Fruit Attraction because of Corona. There are also understandable and individual reasons for this decision. Nevertheless, we are sure that even a reduced Fruit Attraction - on site in Madrid and online - will again be an important meeting place for the international fruit and vegetable industry. Landgard cannot and does not want to miss this as part of the German joint stand. Especially our Spanish company Landgard Espana would like to use the fair to show presence again and to win further producers for a membership to the Landgard producer cooperative. One of the latest key messages will be that the strength of a cooperative as a social system with strong ties to producers and customers is particularly evident in times of crisis."
Regarding the future and dealing with Corona: How is your company preparing for the "1.5-meter economy"?
"Landgard is doing everything possible in the course of the Corona pandemic to protect and inform employees, producers and customers in the best possible way. In addition to the well-known distance and hygiene rules, the measures include, for example, a flexible office situation including the use of the 'mobile office', the central procurement and distribution of respiratory masks and disinfectants and the introduction of compulsory masks in some work areas."