Although the Belgian government decided that trade fairs could be organised once again from 1 September 2020 provided they comply with measures as currently applicable to commerce, Kortrijk Xpo and Belgapom have jointly decided to postpone INTERPOM for a year until Sunday 28, Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 November 2021 in Kortrijk Xpo.
INTERPOM has 326 exhibitors and 19,500 visitors from 49 countries. The international character of INTERPOM, the central role of the trade fair as a congenial meeting place for potato professionals, the many tasting sessions, the intensive preparation time for an event of this scope and the uncertainty regarding international travel – all these factors were taken into account by the organisation in the decision to move INTERPOM to November 2021 in the interests of all stakeholders.
A growing number of exhibitors have also indicated that November 2020 is too early to take optimum advantage of the revival of economic activity. The management / head offices located abroad have also stressed the existence of a prohibition on national and international commercial travel, participation in trade fairs and visits. At the moment, businesses in the potato sector are mainly preoccupied with reorganising themselves as they restart operations.
The coronavirus crisis has had a particularly large impact on the potato chain both here and abroad. The worldwide lockdown resulted in it not being possible to process part of the world’s available potatoes. Fortunately, it was still possible to make use of these via food banks, export, or as animal feed and raw material for green energy. There is a certain degree of recovery in many markets, but it is still not clear how the new season will evolve. Europe, meanwhile, continues to work towards a more sustainable world, and this includes the potato sector. The imminent Green Deal and potato storage without chemical inhibition of germination are a couple of illustrations that demonstrate that INTERPOM in 2021 will certainly be able to fulfil its role as a meeting platform in more suitable circumstances and thereby help stimulate the necessary recovery.
BELGAPOM, the recognised professional association for the Belgian potato trade and processing industry, which is also the initiator of the fair, has this to say about the postponement:
Marc van Herreweghe, chairman of Belgapom: ‘Exceptional times require exceptional decisions. The potato chain does not shrink from its responsibility even as we face these difficult times. As sector federation, we will of course continue to fully support INTERPOM and we look forward to the next edition in November 2021.’
Romain Cools, Secretary of Belgapom: ‘By definition, the potato chain is a sector in which personal contacts at both national and international levels are vitally important for all the operators involved. INTERPOM is much more than a trade fair; it is also an international meeting place for thousands of potato professionals. If INTERPOM is not able to guarantee these personal contacts for Belgian and international visitors, it seems only responsible to postpone the fair by a year. I am convinced that the November 2021 edition, more than ever, will be a building block for a strong, dynamic and sustainable Belgian and European potato chain.’
Annick Pycarelle, Exhibition Manager Kortrijk Xpo: ‘We would have been delighted to organise the fair in order to support the sector, but a representative range of the market at INTERPOM is important to both visitors and exhibitors. It is thus with great regret and pain in our hearts that, in conjunction with Belgapom, we have taken this decision for postponement until 2021. In view of the current situation, this is the correct and responsible decision. We want to thank our exhibitors, partners and visitors for their trust in our organisation, and we hope they will understand the settlement and relocation of their participation to the postponed date. For our part, we will be making optimal use of this extra year to organise a top event in 2021 and provide both exhibitors and visitors alike the quality and congenial atmosphere that the sector expects from us.’
The structure of the fair is being maintained, only the dates are changing from November 2020 to 28, 29 and 30 November 2021. This postponed edition will be hybrid: the physical, on-site fair will be supplemented with an interactive, online platform (offering e.g. AI-based matchmaking, product pages, appointment modules, videoconferencing facilities, live and on-demand seminars, mobile apps, etc.).
From 2022, INTERPOM will then resume its biennial rota in even years at Kortrijk Xpo.