05 November 2020, 09:45 AM
  • The ongoing restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic mean that more food events scheduled for 2021 are being cancelled or heading online
IFE postponed until 2022 while other key events go virtual

Montgomery Group has made the “extremely difficult decision” to cancel the International Food & Drink Event (IFE) in March 2021, one of the key events on the food and drink industry’s calendar.

Following consultation with industry stakeholders and key partners, the next IFE and IFE Manufacturing Solutions (IMS) will now be held on 28th February 2022. Nicola Woods, event manager at Montgomery Group, said: “Having listened to our communities and carefully considered the options available to us, we have made the difficult decision to postpone.”

Despite the introduction of new risk assessments and hygiene standards, Nicola said that because of the “lack of guidance and clarity from government on when business events can restart” the group’s best option was to postpone.

However, the group is currently looking at how it can continue to support the industry next year. “While we are immensely disappointed that we can’t meet face-to-face in March, we are currently investigating numerous ways in which we can continue to support and connect with the food and drink industry throughout 2021 and beyond, and will be making an announcement around this very soon,” Nicola said.

Food shows to continue virtual trend in 2021
With no clear end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, other industry events have decided to go virtual into 2021. Scotland’s Speciality Food Show is one such event that will head online next year in order to keep buyers and suppliers connected through the Covid-19 crisis.

Mark Saunders, show director, said restrictions on indoor events are likely to remain in place for “some time yet”.

“Having already run a few virtual events this year with some success, we have come to the conclusion that two to three day events are not necessarily the best format for product-led businesses,” Mark told Speciality Food.

As a result, and in conjunction with Scotland’s Trade Fair, the event will run as an online directory for the whole of 2021. “This will provide buyers with an opportunity to source products throughout the year with what they need, when they need it. To support it a marketing and promotions campaign including a series of mini online events will be held throughout the year to encourage buyers to keep visiting,” Mark explained. The full details of the plans will be announced soon.

It follows in the footsteps of Scotland’s Trade Fair Autumn, which recently completed a successful six-week long online event. Mark said the autumn show not only generated leads for exhibitors and buyers, but it also provided the team with useful tips on how to run an online event.

Another show that’s heading online in 2021 is Top Drawer, the leading retail trade event for creative lifestyle buyers. Show director Alejandra Campos said, “Whilst we had hoped we could deliver a safe and successful event for the community, we have also been busy planning for such an eventuality and can confirm that the S/S21 edition will now take place as a virtual event.”

Top Drawer’s digital platform, Top Drawer On Demand, will “allow the retail community to come together and access new opportunities to connect and trade,” Alejandra said. “The digital programme will provide UK and overseas buyers with easy access to new products, expert advice and trends forecasting, as well as live product launch sessions and enhanced networking tools.”

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, countless shows and events were forced to move online or be cancelled. Virtual events, while they may not have as much fanfare as a buzzing event space, give the industry certainty at a time when so much is unknown, and help to bring together the growing online food and drink community at a time when many feel disconnected from others. Further still, it proves the sector’s penchant for adaptability and growth during what has been an extremely challenging year.

 

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