By Yentzen Group general manager and Phoenix Media Network director Gustavo Yentzen
In my more than 15 years’ experience in the fresh produce industry as a marketing advisor, director in specialized media, and for nearly the past year a board member of one of the biggest communication companies in the industry, Phoenix Media Network, I have seen the evolution and importance of “boutique” trade fairs.
They are high-level events with front-line participants where attendees bring a wealth of knowledge and are focused on having an enriching experience on all levels – business, educational, and of course, personal.
In recent years we have seen how this type of trade show has been continually refining and perfecting itself, being able to compete with the biggest fairs thanks to the high return on investment they provide (in terms of the number of business opportunities and/or links with clients).
A good example of these boutique trade shows are the New York Produce Show and the London Produce Show. Given my new professional relationship with the events’ creators, I have been able to assist and observe them from a new perspective, learning to value their refined concept in a different way. The events only last a few days, but they are intensely focused on putting together suppliers with potential retail clients and buyers for a specific market.
One aspect that I really like is their search for excellence. They aim to provide a 360-degree experience for the attendees, giving them the opportunity not only to do business but also to generate ties with key market players, get to know how commercial and production networks operate through industry tours, and also to see how other players – who are sometimes invisible in the supply chain – are involved.
In addition, there is an element of ‘spectacle’ with these events, not just from being based in cities that already have an undisputed reputation (New York, London, Amsterdam, all of which I have visited), but from having the chance to stay in iconic hotels like the Hilton, right next to the Rockefeller Center in the heart of New York, and the JW Marriott at Grosvenor House, within a stone’s throw of Palace of Westminster, or the Hilton in Amsterdam, where John Lemon and Yoko Ono held their legendary ‘bed-in’ for peace.
As for the main day of the event, one of the main characteristics of these shows is that the exhibitors’ stands are all the same size. This democratization allows small companies to stand out and shine with their own light next to the bigger and more consolidated companies.
From an information perspective, they also cover a range of topics of local interest. A good example of this will be seen in June at the London Produce Show, where attendees will learn first-hand about the repercussions and opportunities set to result from the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.
Being able to visit the most influential supermarket chains, chat with heads of fresh produce departments and learn about the latest consumption trends is undoubtedly a plus for any business. As well as this, there are tours of ports, wholesale markets and even some visits to farms in the event’s host country.
The world is changing and our industry often takes a while to incorporate these changes, but specialized trade shows in major buyer markets are a trend that is here to stay and those who take advantage of them will undoubtedly be in pole position to enjoy the opportunities they create.