The coronavirus is spreading quickly in China, and is now also as reaching other countries. Three cases have been confirmed in Germany since last Monday, which brings the infections in Europe to two countries. As next week there is a big fruits and vegetables exhibition in Berlin, concerns are starting to arise from some of the exhibitors. Companies from all over the world will participate, which also includes about ninety Chinese companies.
Official statement Fruit Logistica
Fruit Logistica made an official statement about the virus and how they would deal with it during the exhibition. Their spokesperson said: “We are looking forward to welcoming you to this year’s Fruit Logistica next week in Berlin. As you are aware, the first cases of the coronavirus have now been identified in Europe, including here in Germany. Indeed, the authorities in Berlin have already issued a statement to the effect that Germany is very well prepared to deal with any cases.”
“The safety and health of our exhibitors, visitors and partners is our number one priority. We do not expect any impact on events planned at the Messe Berlin exhibitions grounds, but as a precaution we are introducing new measures to increase the safety of all attendees at Fruit Logistica :
- We will have a number of rapid response medical teams and other health professionals located here onsite to deal with any situations that may arise.
- Hand disinfectors will now be provided at all entrances of the exhibition in addition to hand sanitation already installed in all toilets and washrooms at the event.
- We are increasing the frequency with which our facilities are disinfected.”
Exhibitors show different reactions
Overall most exhibitors have the same reaction to the coronavirus and its effect for the exhibition. Some are worried, but overall people stay optimistic and are coming to the exhibition.
Some Italian visitors and exhibitors are worried about the situation but they will go to Berlin anyway. Just a few of them probably don't go for their health safety but most of them still go and told us that it is better to not create alarmism. "We are stronger than the virus" they commented by downplaying the threat. “The situation must be kept under control and updates about the spread of the virus and measures taken will be really appreciated.”
“Fear is not good without exact information from competent sources. So far as I know, the common influenza is much more dangerous than the coronavirus. Of course being in big closed spaces like Fruit Logistica with a huge confluence of people coming from all over the world, there is a risk of spreading all kind of viruses. We never thought about not going,” declares the general manager of a Spanish ecological company.
In Germany there are now three confirmed cases of the virus in Bavaria. Still, German exhibitors do not seem to worry too much about next weeks’ events yet. While most of them were aware of the risk that a large event like this could pose for a contagious disease, there have been no measures taken thus far. “We don’t have much business with Chinese companies, therefore we don’t expect much of a threat”, says one organizer of a group stand in the German halls.
“As long as we are allowed to come, and do not receive restrictions for entering Germany, we are willing to come.” Said Tina Sun from Fresh-key one of the Chinese exhibitors. Most Chinese exhibitors and visitors share the same view as Tina, just one or two cases are reconsidering their visit to Berlin. Chinese companies are very aware of the threat of the virus and thus also undertake all necessary steps to prevent spreading or getting infected by the virus.
Kay Bee Exports (India) has taken notice of the outbreak, but aren’t concerned about visiting Berlin. “There are no cases in India and from what I gather there is no real threat in Berlin itself either. We’ll monitor the situation but as of now we’re not worried at all.” said Kaushal Khakhar, CEO of the exporting company.
One producer/exporter from Ecuador expresses his concerns for the virus, and feels that while attendees can take precautions for themselves, the exhibition organizers should also take action to protect them: “Indeed we do have concerns, especially since so many Asians tend to attend the Berlin exhibition nowadays. We will certainly bring masks, but I also think that the fair organizers should check people at the entrance.”
In Australia there were also several cases of the coronavirus, even though the spread is less quick than in China, an Australian exhibitor mentioned: "Yes I'm still coming to Europe, but I must say that I have seen some things on my travels over the years, rockets in Israel and of course the threat of violence in Hong Kong last year, none of this has scared me but this virus is scary, you can't see it and don't know who is infected. So yes it is worrying, but I will still travel to Europe and to Fruit Logistica."
Chile, the biggest exporter of cherries to China, is now in full production and their shipments are now more of their concern: “So far our exports are carried out normally. However, we are monitoring any possible effect that the coronavirus could have on our collaborators and commercial agents, as well as on the consumption of our fruits in China. People in China avoid leaving their houses now during the New Year celebrations. We sold most of our fruit –mainly cherries- before this festivity”, say Ronald Bown, president of Chilean fruit exporters association Asoex and Jorge Valenzuela, president of Fedefruta.
José Rodriguez of HTS México will be attending the fair as a visitor and will be engaging in meetings with potential customers. He isn’t too worried since his company does not do direct business with China. He says: “We are currently not worried. We don’t trade our citrus in Asia. So, besides a general worldwide concern we do not have any particular worries. We are keeping a close eye on the situation and read the updates every day. We hope for the best.”
Fruit Logistica will send updates on their official Social Media
As Fruit Logistica is aware of the concerns, the spokesperson concluded with: “Please be assured that we are monitoring the situation very closely and are in regular contact with the health authorities of the State of Berlin. Should there be any changes to the current status, we will take account of any recommendations from the World Health Organisation, the relevant federal and state authorities, and the municipal health authorities, and implement all appropriate instructions. ”
“Please follow us on our official Social Media channels for updates and for useful information.”