After days of bad news about exhibitors pulling out of one of the biggest natural and organic food product shows in the world, New Hope Network announced last night that it would postpone the Natural Products Expo West due to coronavirus just a day before the expected start of the show.
Yesterday I wrote that it was a pretty extraordinary move for the Inspired Home Show, another large trade show, to cancel less than two weeks before it was expected to begin. But two weeks was at least enough advance notice to allow exhibitors and attendees time to change plans. By postponing just a day before its expected start, Expo West gave attendees and exhibitors still planning to attend no time to alter plans, and many were already en route to Los Angeles to attend the event.
The show’s abrupt cancellation left many attendees and exhibitors scrambling to cancel hotels or flights and to figure out what to do with products and trade show equipment already shipped to Los Angeles. Rabobank’s FoodBytes, one of many organizations that had planned to have its own gathering in LA around Expo West, announced via email they would cancel a mixer planned for Wednesday, March 4. On Facebook, a representative from another organization offered to buy inventory from exhibitors that had already shipped product to help some of these small companies mitigate losses.
While the postponement was last minute, the fast-moving nature of the Coronavirus epidemic left the trade show’s organizers in a very tough place. In the announcement, New Hope Network talked about the back and forth discussion it had been having over the past week with its exhibitor community and how they ultimately decided to postpone the event.
“Over the last 48 hours, we have worked with the Community to try and serve those who want the show by delivering a great experience, and support those who want it, but not now, by working on credits and alternatives.
It is now clear, despite continued advice from local government and health authorities that the City of Anaheim remains open, that the majority of our Community want the show, but they do not want it now.”
New Hope Network wrote that they plan to announce a new date and location for a rescheduled Expo West by mid-April.
As with the cancellation of the Inspired Home Show, Expo West’s delay shows how the virus is having a significant disruptive impact on nearly ever aspect of the broader global economy and industry. We’ll continue to cover the impact of the virus on the food and food tech industry in coming weeks.