We sat down with Peter Redmayne, President of The Sea Fare Group, and Liz Plizga, Group Vice President of Diversified Communications HQ, to discuss what international seafood tradeshows may look like in 2022.
As we head into the New Year, many are wondering what international travel and tradeshow participation will look like, especially with the Omicron COVID-19 spread. Food Export–Northeast sat down with Peter Redmayne, President of The Sea Fare Group, and Liz Plizga, Group Vice President of Diversified Communications HQ, to discuss what international seafood tradeshows may look like in 2022. From shifting global trends to changing safety guidelines, this year will certainly have its challenges, but both professionals are optimistic that what’s to come will have an immense amount of value for seafood companies who want to grow their presence overseas.
Peter Redmayne, a veteran of the seafood tradeshow industry, first began working in international tradeshows in 1984. In 1995, his company assumed all overseas recruitment for the China Fisheries & Seafood Expo. Since then, the tradeshow has grown immensely, resulting in the need to upgrade venues multiple times to accommodate exhibitors – that is, until the cancellation of 2020’s show. Redmayne noted that he sees large-scale growth eventually continuing, but with COVID-19 protocols at their strictest in China, that growth may take a while to resume. Luckily in 2021, the show resumed with precautions and safety protocols in place and Peter’s experience was a positive one.
“Despite attendance being down 20-30% in 2021 because of COVID, the [China Fisheries & Seafood Expo] attendees were comprised of very high-quality buyers and suppliers that really wanted to be there and grow their seafood business relationships,” said Redmayne. “Even with the 21 days of quarantine required for international attendees, 12,000 people were at the show. It was still a large event by most people’s standards. China is operating on a zero-COVID policy and has 78% of their population vaccinated. However, until China’s restrictions ease up, I see 2022’s event being very similar to last year’s.”
While many tradeshows are focused on the importance of socializing and meeting new people face-to-face, Redmayne noted that Sea Fare has collaborated with Tencent, the Chinese software giant and parent of WeChat, to develop a digital B2B platform. Called the CFSE Global Marketplace, it links CFSE exhibitors with buyers around the world. CFSE is endorsed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“The Global Marketplace is unique and presents a great opportunity for suppliers to show their seafood products, chat with customers virtually, and advertise their company. It’s a low-cost advertising option that enhances the show experience,” concluded Redmayne.
The China Fisheries & Seafood Expo will take place in Qingdao, China, October 26-28, 2022.
Liz Plizga has been working in the event planning, media, and tradeshow space since 1996. She moved to Portland, Maine in 2002 for a role at Diversified Communications where her seafood industry career took off. Today, she is the Group Vice President of Seafood Expositions at Diversified Communications for Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global, Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, Seafood Expo Asia, and SeafoodSource. After multiple years of experience in the seafood event industry, Plizga’s motto is to expect the unexpected and move forward accordingly. Her team works on:
“No matter the year, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected, especially with global events,” said Plizga. “We are used to handling challenging circumstances beyond our control and have tight protocols to handle such situations. Our upcoming 2022 events have a robust exhibitor participation, and we look forward to providing great value to our customers. Usually in challenging times, our events tend to be laser focused on the business at hand, and buyers are very serious about doing business. Providing a forum for discourse, problem solving, and information sharing become more important as industries navigate challenging situations.”
Plizga is seeing a shift in in-person event formats with more requirements tied to proof of vaccination (e.g., the City of Boston’s “B Together” vaccine requirement for indoor spaces). For its customers, Diversified Communications is keeping its website up to date with COVID protocols and situational analysis. She is also seeing an immense amount of screen fatigue and pent-up demand for in-person relationship building.
“These events are long-standing and have weathered all kinds of situations. The seafood industry, while it has its challenges, is strong and the success of the shows reflects that. You can’t replicate the need to meet face-to-face and the efficiency these events provide. Tradeshows are controlled environments where we can create safe and healthy spaces for communities to do business,” continued Plizga.
Other trends Plizga noted that are affecting the seafood industry event space on a global scale include:
However, no matter all the changes in the sector, in-person events are hard for digital offerings to replace.
“Events are where people can meet, taste, and gain new experiences. I think there is a lot to be said about how virtual and digital offerings can enhance business and complement in person, but I don’t see it as a medium which will replace face-to-face meetings anytime soon. No matter the time, I would always recommend a comprehensive marketing, advertising and social media plan which includes in-person and digital content offerings that complement each other. A well-balanced marketing plan is crucial,” concluded Plizga.
As you begin to plan for 2022 tradeshow support, consider the Branded Program for funding support and Virtual Consultations to update your market intelligence pre-show – these helpful tools are great to have in your export business marketing toolbox. If you have other questions about how Food Export–Northeast works with partners like Liz Plizga and Peter Redmayne to support your seafood company, get in touch or visit our website.
About Food Export USA – Northeast
With its extensive programs and educational offerings, Food Export USA–Northeast (Food Export–Northeast) is recognized as the preeminent expert and cost-effective resource for Northeast seafood and agricultural suppliers looking to sell their products overseas. Founded in 1973, Food Export–Northeast is a non-profit organization that works collaboratively with its 10 member states’ agricultural promotion agencies from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, to facilitate trade between suppliers and worldwide importers and to promote the export of food, agricultural and seafood products from those states. Since its founding, the organization has helped Northeast seafood suppliers gain access to a broad range of export markets, supported overseas in-market educational and promotional programs and offers emerging suppliers access to funds to help grow their export business. The organization is funded through the Market Access Program (MAP), administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
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