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Raúl Calleja, director of Fruit Attraction: "The LIVEConnect platform will not be a plan B"

"68% of European companies already said they will attend if the fair is held"

Despite the uncertainty and doubts generated by the current health crisis situation, Fruit Attraction is still planned to be held from 20 to 22 October. If everything continues as planned, it will be the first major international event for the fruit and vegetable sector to be held in the framework of the "new normal."

The organization of Fruit Attraction is allowing attendance to be confirmed without the commitment to pay anything and ensuring the reimbursement of 100% of the payments in case of a last minute cancellation. For the time being, since June 20, the Region of Madrid allows the holding of events with a maximum capacity of 70%.

"The truth is that this new edition of Fruit Attraction must serve as a great tribute to the fruit and vegetable sector, which has continued to work despite the circumstances, covering the most basic needs of the population," says Raúl Calleja. "As things stand today, and bearing in mind that there are still about four months left, we foresee it being held in the usual fashion, but we are flexible and the right decisions will be made if the situation worsens at national or European level."

The fact is that, according to experts, if there was a new major outbreak, it would happen between October and November. "We are aware that the threat of a new outbreak of this virus is a possibility; therefore, we have to be realistic and keep the uncertainty in mind. In February, before the pandemic started spreading like wildfire around the world, the booking of exhibition space had grown by 5% compared to last year. We now know that, beyond Europe's borders, it is very likely that participation will fall. This is the case, for example, of the companies and visitors from Latin America. In any case, if Fruit Attraction opens its doors, the 8 halls will be used, just like in the previous edition. The truth is that, if we were forcing companies to make a decision now, the situation would be very different," said the director of Fruit Attraction.

According to the event's representative, the surveys filled out by visitors linked to marketing, both in Spain and Europe (the main destination for Spanish exports), reveal that 68% will attend the fair if it is held in person, while the other 32% believe that it is still too early. "This shows the importance of this fair. It is perhaps early to make decisions, but our work must be flexible and we have to take extraordinary measures. Fruit Attraction must be part of the solution and not the problem. September will be the key," says Raúl Calleja.

All health protocols have already been designed, since IFEMA is the place where a temporary hospital was set up in record time to care for coronavirus patients. This has helped the organization learn about the best cleaning and sanitization methods, allowing it to guarantee health safety throughout the premises. The list of measures adopted includes the mandatory use of masks, the installation of sanitizing gel dispensers, the use of accreditations on mobile phones in order to speed up the queues and avoid contact, and an increase in the number of access and exit points with temperature controls. "There are some measures that we still need to get used to, so we will all have to do our part," says Raúl Calleja. "However, we already have experience in audience capacity management and attendee traffic for 11 years and we are able to know in real time how many people enter and leave the premises. Now, we will simply intensify these protocols."

"I don't think the LIVEConnect platform is a plan B"
The fair's great novelty this year is Fruit Attraction LIVEConnect, the largest Marketplace and Professional Social Network in the world specialized in the fruit and vegetable sector, which will be operational from October 1 to 31, 2020.

According to Raúl Calleja, this platform uses artificial intelligence to automatically pair the supply and the demand. "This platform is not intended as a virtual fair. It is not a plan B in case the fair is canceled in the current format. It is a complement that gives more strength to our fair, covering a series of functions that the face-to-face format alone cannot offer. Now we will be able to reach more people and establish more direct contacts between buyers and sellers. This approach is here to stay."

Fresh Food Logistics, Smart Water and Fresh Shopping Lab
Another addition to the fair will be Fresh Food Logistics, a new event that brings together solutions for logistics and transport with controlled temperature and that will take place in Hall 6. "There will finally be a fair that covers all the services of cold logistics in a monographic and specific way," said Raúl Calleja.

There will also be a Smart Water area, with solutions for the use of smart irrigation management technologies on farms.

The new Fresh Shopping Lab conceptual space will show participants what supermarkets will look like in 20 years. "This area will be used to present the latest news and trends and purchasing formats, showing how artificial intelligence will help us buy what we need the most based on our nutritional needs, among many other aspects. We will bring the supermarket of the future to the present," says the director of the fair.

Together with the Institute of Foreign Trade (ICEX), Fepex, organizer of Fruit Attraction, has decided that this year, the guest importing countries will be the United States, Canada, China, Japan and those in the Arabian peninsula. Private sessions, most likely virtual, will be held during the month prior to the fair.

It is worth noting that this year, avocados will be the flagship product, and that events such as the Bio Fruit Congress or Woman Attraction will also be held.

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