Organizers postpone Expo West trade show over COVID-19 cancellations

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

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Getty Images

Related tags Expo west coronavirus

The Natural Products Expo West trade show has been postponed, the organizers announced late Monday.

Officials at New Hope, a division of Informa, said that after taking stock of the number of exhibitors and attendees that had announced they would not attend, the decision was made to postpone the show.  A number of stakeholders said they wanted the show to go on, but the momentum was building in favor of a postponement, with some advocating for a outright cancellation.

“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,”​ the company said in a release posted about 7:45 pm Eastern time on Monday.

List of cancellations had been snowballing

It was already the case that no attendees or exhibtors from China were coming to the show.  The list of brands that had cancelled stood officially at more than 120 as of early today and unofficially judging by social media posts more than 400 brands had pulled out of hte show by the time New Hope’s decision was announced.

New Hope said it plans to fix on a new date to be announced by mid April.  The intent is to produce a replacement show before summer. The rescheduled show might take place at the Anaheim Convention Center or in a “suitable alternative location.”

Rebate fund for small brands

One set of companies that will be particularly hard hit are smaller brands for whom attending this particular trade show takes the lion’s share of their annual marketing budget.  New Hope said it was aware of the plight of this tier of the industry.

“It is our intention to work with all our Exhibitors and Attendees on future credits and support, with particular focus on the many entrepreneurs and small businesses who are the heartbeat of this community, for whom we are going to stand up a rebate fund of $5m targeted at their specific needs,”​ the New Hope statement said.

“It was the intention here at Expo West in Anaheim, to follow official guidance from local authorities and to listen to the voices of the community we serve and support, in order to maximise the health of the industry,” ​said Fred Linder, group president of New HopeNetwork.

“We will be working closely with all our customers and partners across the industry to identify a new date for the show later in the year, and providing the service and support to deliver the connections and experience everyone expects from Expo West and the New Hope Network,”​ he said.

Sign of things to come

Loren Israelsen, president of the United Natural Products Alliance, said it was obviously a difficult and complicated decision.

“I believe it was the right decision. Obviously a very difficult one.  The timing was really complicated and very unfortunate for New Hope. And this very likely will be a harbinger of similar decisions that many other organizations will have to be considering over the coming months,”​ Israelsen told NutraIngredients-USA.

“My guess is that as events postpone is that they will move to the fall and the fall calendar will get even more crowded,” ​he added.

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