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THAIFEX–Anuga Asia 2020 opens to smaller crowds

The F&B trade show is one of Asia's first major exhibitions to be held after the lifting of some Covid-19 health and safety restrictions.

THAIFEX–Anuga Asia 2020 has attracted keen interest despite the absence of foreign visitors due to border closures in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
THAIFEX–Anuga Asia 2020 has attracted keen interest despite the absence of foreign visitors due to border closures in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

THAIFEX–Anuga Asia 2020, held from September 22–26 at Thailand's IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center, just north of Bangkok, has attracted keen interest despite the absence of foreign visitors.

 

At IMPACT, the surface area of the event, originally scheduled for May, has been almost halved, from 107,000sqm in 2019 to 60,000sqm this year. The number of exhibitors has also plummeted—2,745 companies shared 5,984 booths in 2019, compared with 797 firms and 1,776 booths for the current edition.

 

Trade during the 2019 show was valued at 12.7 billion baht (US$400.74 million). Final statistics for 2020 have not yet been published, but organisers forecast a total of 60,000 in-person visitors over the five-day event, compared to 2019 numbers of 129,965 (51.7% on the three trade days versus 48.3% on the final two public days).

 

With closed borders making it nearly impossible for overseas exhibitors—usually a huge hit with the public—and delegates to attend, foreign companies have been represented by their embassies, chambers of commerce and local distributors.

 

Organisers forecast a total of 60,000 in-person visitors attended the five-day event.
Organisers forecast a total of 60,000 in-person visitors attended the five-day event.

To make up for lost physical presence, the show is reaching out to participants online. “We introduced the hybrid edition of THAIFEX–Anuga Asia this year,” says Wendy Lim, general manager, Business Unit for Food and Food Technology at Koelnmesse, co-organiser with Thai partners, Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

 

“This included elements such as Facebook live-streaming and a Virtual Meet, where exhibitors will be able to connect with a group of 500 international buyers even after the event concludes.” The service is akin to having access to one-stop shopping, with curated shops all in one virtual location. Webinars and product demonstrations were also broadcast online.

 

Despite placing the accent on digital access to the fair, organisers also focused attention on encouraging Thai exhibitors to attend. A number of SMEs from around the country were hosted by the event, giving them access to new markets. Innovative products, sustainable and organic produce and start-ups were highlighted.

 

A number of SMEs and start-ups were encouraged to attend the event, giving them access to new markets.
A number of SMEs and start-ups were encouraged to attend the event, giving them access to new markets.

Jirayunut Ajariyakajorn, the founder of One More craft chocolates from the southern town of Nakhon Si Thammarat, is enthusiastic. “The Ministry of Commerce selected the best products from the province,” she says with pride. “There was no expense for us. It has been a successful trip and I have made many good contacts.”

 

Encouragingly, exhibitors turned out despite the challenging economic context. Kawee Phaisarnsiriwat, application chef from the sales team of Welbilt APAC, a kitchen equipment manufacturer, acknowledges that many businesses may not be ready to invest in major purchases after such a rocky year, but points to a silver lining.

 

“We see people considering getting back into the game,” he notes. “I have met many young entrepreneurs who are planning new concepts for cafés and restaurants and that is a good sign for the F&B industry.”