Concern that the coronavirus could turn the nation’s largest seafood show into a petri dish for the virus has prompted postponement of Seafood Expo North America, which is well attended by the Alaska seafood industry. Word spread rapidly after Diversified Communications announced on Tuesday, March 3, that the show, set for March 15-17 in Boston, Mass., was postponed while they look at other options.
The notice reads that Diversified is “committed to finding a solution to deliver an event in North America this year, to ensure business continuity to the seafood industry.” Details on when and where will be communicated directly to customers next month. The show, now in its 40th year, generates millions of dollars in sales for the Alaska seafood industry.
Jeremy Woodrow, executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, said that ASMI was hearing even before Diversified’s announcement that some companies were not going to the Boston show because of the coronavirus and that sales were going to be down. From ASMI’s standpoint, Diversified made the right decision. Meanwhile sales teams will have to do more work, setting up individual calls, but that process will have less impact than it would have 20 or 30 years ago, given modern technology, he explained.
Diversified also organizes the Seafood Expo Global Show in Brussels, Belgium, which is still scheduled for April 21–23. ASMI normally hosts a pavilion for the Alaska seafood industry in Boston and has its own booth at the Brussels show, as do others in the Alaska seafood industry. Last year ASMI estimated sales in Brussels exceeded $1 billion. That number includes sales on the floor and expected sales following conversations and deals made at the show.
In California, the New Hope Network announced on Monday, March 2, that it was postponing its Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim because of concerns over the coronavirus and hope to set new date for the event by mid-April. The event attracts some 86,000 visitors annually.
Processors engaged in the Alaska seafood industry meanwhile were in discussion on how to assure safe working conditions for hundreds of employees during the summer fisheries, given the close proximity in which they work, eat and sleep. A spokesperson for one processing company said it is a matter of concern, but at least they have another 60 days to figure it out.