On the eve of the new-style digital event, Dr Kevin Robinson caught up with Chris Lee, Managing Director, Health & Nutrition Network, Europe, at Informa Markets, to find out more
KSR: Vitafoods is well-known for its in-person industry events; how does the new virtual event fit in your portfolio?
CL: The main reason we all attend trade shows is to connect with others in the industry, share ideas and innovations and to collaborate. That ethos has always been at the heart of all of our events. Although we’re not able to meet in person at the moment, interactive virtual events can continue to foster global connections and collaborations.
We see our new Vitafoods Virtual Expo (7–11 September) and Summit (15–17 September) as a complementary addition to our existing events, offering another way for the industry to engage with each other, combining the business, connection, and networking opportunities of a traditional live event with smart connectivity in a comprehensive virtual experience.
KSR: Several events are going online this year, what can visitors expect from Vitafoods Virtual Expo and Summit?
CL: Our aim is to connect buyers with quality suppliers through cutting-edge technologies, such as data-driven matchmaking. We have also created Thematic Micro-Communities for the Expo, which will allow visitors to discover new ingredients and suppliers, and learn about key trends such as sports nutrition, cognitive heath, probiotics, healthy ageing and more.
Visitors will have the chance to meet sponsored exhibitors of each micro-community through our speed networking feature, meaning you can meet and exchange ideas and details with a wide range of suppliers and manufacturers in your particular area of interest.
KSR: Can you explain how the platform will work, and what makes it different to say, webinars?
CL: What makes our virtual event different is that we have really focused on making connections at the event as seamless as possible so it’s truly interactive.
For example, visitors can input their specific interests in areas such as ingredients, services, and manufacturing, from which the platform will use data-driven matchmaking to generate suggestions of others with similar interests so you can arrange private meetings.
This helps you to connect with the right people, all from the comfort of your place of work or home. The platform is already open, allowing exhibitors and visitors to set up meetings in advance.
Plus, there will be more than 50 hours of innovative content delivered across a series of webinars and podcasts, speed networking events, product galleries and thematic reports. So, a huge amount of insightful content and knowledge will be at people’s fingertips to help drive the next ideas and innovations in the industry.
KSR: What can we expect from the Summit?
CL: Following the Expo, the Vitafoods Virtual Summit will provide a deeper dive into key topics affecting the broader health and nutrition community. Designed to foster peer-to-peer networking, we will be exploring consumer trends, regulatory considerations, as well as science and innovation.
In addition to 1-2-1 networking, the Summit will also host moderated roundtable discussions with key industry experts. The topics we’re covering are Personalised Nutrition and Innovation, Supporting Digestive Health with Pre-, Syn- and Post-biotics, and CBD.
Each Summit includes three hours of interactive presentations from top-level experts from companies such as Baze, Innova Market Insights, NCN and Bird & Bird, and one hour for thematic roundtable discussion and networking – delegates can pre-register for roundtable topics and take advantage of live connections through the virtual platform.
KSR: Your State of the Nation report will also be revealed at the show – what is the state of the nation right now?
CL: It has been a year of change, disruption and uncertainty owing to COVID-19. At the show, we’ll be revealing our first deep dive report into the industry: how it has affected consumers’ attitudes and purchasing behaviours and what impact might it have on key aspects of our industry in the future.
Although we don’t want to give everything away yet, there have been some fascinating findings around changing consumer perceptions and trends this year already, as well as more focus towards advancing sustainability. We will be premiering the report in a presentation at 09:00 BST on Friday 11 September on the Vitafoods Virtual Expo’s main stage.
KSR: What’s next for Vitafoods?
CL: We are currently scheduled for Vitafoods Europe in Geneva in May 2021 and are optimistic that we will be able to host an in-person event at that time.
Obviously, we don’t know what the global landscape will look like between now and then, but we are confidently moving forward with our current plans. Future Vitafoods in-person events will be organised in accordance with Informa’s AllSecure health and safety standard.
These are standards we have developed in conjunction with industry peers (including Reed Exhibitions and Clarion), suppliers and association partners (including UFI, AEO and SISO), which provides 10 key commitments to raise the bar on hygiene measures and practices at organised industry gatherings.