By: Cliff White
Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, scheduled to take place 15 to 17 March in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., has been postponed by the event’s organizer, Diversified Communications.
The decision was made on 3 March in response to growing concerns over the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to Diversified Communications Group Vice President Liz Plizga.
“The March edition of the event is not going to be taking place as scheduled,” Plizga told SeafoodSource. “This was an incredibly difficult decision due to the importance of the event to the industry. We have been monitoring the rapidly evolving situation caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, and have done our best to listen to the concerns as well as the needs of our customers. We chose to make this decision now to give those planning to attend Seafood Expo North America enough time to respond to the postponement of the event.”
Plizga said Diversified is aiming to host the event later in 2020, either in Boston or in another U.S. city, with an announcement expected on that decision by mid-April. Exhibitors and visitors will have the option of rolling over their fees to that event, or alternatively, to the 2021 version of Seafood Expo North America in Boston.
“We’re looking at all our options to host an event in 2020,” Plizga said. “We want to do the right thing for our industry and ensure everyone has the business opportunities they typically find at our events.”
The decision follows on the heels of New Hope Network’s decision to postpone Natural Products Expo West 2020, which was slated to take place 3 to 7 March. Several seafood companies were planning to participate in that event, but New Hope said it felt pressure to push the event to a later date to avoid “the international situation on COVID-19.”
More than 3,000 people globally have died as a result of COVID-19 infection and nearly 90,000 have been infected, according to the World Health Organization. More than 8,700 COVID-19 cases have been reported outside of China in 61 countries. In the United States, six people have died and there are an additional 90 cases confirmed by the WHO. The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.”
“More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in communities in the United States. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a 29 February statement. “Global efforts at this time are focused concurrently on containing the spread and mitigating the impact of this virus. The federal government is working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this public health threat.”
On 14 February, Diversified Communications USA President Mary Larkin, who is also the president of UFI, the global association of the exhibition industry, said the trade show industry faced a difficult balancing act between fulfilling their mission of providing marketplaces to the industries they served, while at the same time protecting the health and well-being of those planning to attend their events.
“We stand in sympathy and support of everyone affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak, whether directly or indirectly. The exhibitions and events industry exists to provide platforms for people and industries to meet, to trade, and to collaborate. These gatherings are especially important in times of disruption. It is our obligation to maintain opportunities for people to meet wherever possible. Small and medium businesses in all industries in particular depend on exhibitions. And, like all types of events, they support the economy worldwide,” Larkin said. “We, as representatives of the exhibitions industry, are committed to providing these much-needed meeting places around the world, wherever we can do so. When it comes to health, we will rely on the experts in that field, from global bodies like the World Health Organisation but also the national, regional, and local health authorities where we are running exhibitions and events. We will follow their advice to keep participants safe. We confirm that we are both supportive of the markets and communities we serve, and resilient in challenging times. We are ready to demonstrate this again, and will do our part to overcome the current situation.”
Larkin said Diversified Communications remains on-track to host Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global from 21 to 23 April in Brussels, Belgium. The company is closely tracking the spread of COVID-19 and its impacts on the global business community, and it will continue to prioritize prompt and thorough communication as it determines the best route forward for all involved in its events throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.