Last week the organisers of Asia Fruit Logistica announced that the trade show would be postponed until November, it had been due to take place in September in Singapore.
The reaction to the decision from the trade was positive but naturally cautious as we are still unsure of how things will be at that time.
"This rescheduling of Asia Fruit Logistica to 18-20 November 2020 means that our exhibitors and visitors can have more time to plan their participation," explains Wilfried Wollbold, Commercial Director of Asia Fruit Logistica. "Our goal is to help reconnect the global fresh fruit and vegetable industry in Asia in 2020. We all know that things are still uncertain everywhere in the world today. Countries are only now coming out of lockdown, and we all need more time to adjust to the new reality that Covid-19 has brought.
"November is more than six months away from today. We’re confident that by November it will be much safer and easier for everyone to travel to Singapore. And let’s not forget that Singapore is one of the safest places in the world.
Wilfried assures that his team's top priority is the safety of exhibitors and visitors. They are continuing to closely monitor all the measures taken by different countries and are actively working on measures to provide flexible solutions to exhibitors and visitors alike.
"With this rescheduling to mid-November, our exhibitors all now have more time to assess the situation: first, we have moved forward our stand placement proposal period to July and, second, we added a new provision to our terms and conditions that makes it easier for them to pull out if they change their minds. Further measures are in planning and will be announced in due course."
Singapore Expo adheres to stringent levels of hygiene and infection control, and implements additional measures to ensure the safety of everyone. These include regular deep cleaning of the trade show premises, reinforced air conditioning for additional air refreshment, temperature control of every single attendee when they get to the venue, safer social distancing, and so on.
The Government of Singapore reacted very early, it took very strict measures, and is making extensive use of latest technology available.
"We are keen to make use of new technology like SafeEntry implemented this week for everyone entering and exiting Singapore EXPO. SafeEntry is a national digital check-in system by the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) currently used by over 10,000 locations in Singapore, and complements the nationwide contact-tracing efforts.
"Singapore has a very modern and robust system. It allows them to tackle this pandemic very effectively. For us it means we feel that we’ve chosen the best possible location.
Time to reconnect
Asia as a region is becoming more important for fresh produce imports and exports. And Wilfried wants Asia Fruit Logistica to be the place in Asia for delegates to reconnect with key partners in the region and to find new business contacts.
"By November we think everyone in the business will want to meet again. They’ll want to assess the year that has gone by and prepare for the new marketing campaign that starts in January 2021. And they will want to do that somewhere safe and that’s easy to get to.
"Of course, we can’t make solid predictions about visitors right now, but we can say that today our exhibitor registration numbers from all around the world are good and as international as always.
"Our exhibitors have remained very loyal, which is clear indication to me that the fresh produce sector is counting on us to deliver a world-class event this year too.
“Green lanes” for cross-border travel
Some countries have quarantine regulations for people entering or returning to the country and it is not clear when or if these will be lifted.
Wilfried admitted that today's’ quarantine regulations are a clear challenge. However, they expect changes. "We’re currently observing with great interest that Singapore is also in talks with other countries to lift travel restrictions and to put safeguards in place. It is working bilaterally with countries and with regions to put in place safety measures such as Covid-19 testing before departure or upon arrival. They’re looking to establish what they’ve called “green lanes” for international attendees.
"Together with Singapore government support, we are confident that such “green lanes” for cross-border travel to participate at Asia Fruit Logistica will be possible and allow to connect the key visitors markets in Asia for our event mid-November.
"For those markets without such green lane, we will carefully assess virtual solutions, but facilitating the physical event has clear priority.
"Contact between people remains the most effective way to keep your business relationships fresh and strong. We want to help people in the international fresh produce business to do the best possible business across Asia. And to make this happen we know it’s vital to develop a strategy that connects businesses. We all need to create relationships that are based on trust. To do that in a fast-growing market like Asia you need to meet face-to-face.
Trying to plan events is extremely challenging at the movement and Wilfried and his team are putting all their energy into designing creative and robust business solutions for the benefit of their clients.
"Recently challenges have been abundant so we keep a clear head, build on our strengths and resources and work with the support of our loyal customers and partners."