Greetings from SA: wish you were here, but we’ve got you covered in case you can’t be…
By Food South Australia CEO Catherine Sayer.
I am writing this fresh from the inaugural South Australia Food-Beverage-Technology Trade Show held in Adelaide last month, where 54 food and beverage manufacturers and 27 industry service providers presented their wares to over 800 key decision makers and buyers.
I know from all the great conversations I had over the two days of the show that I’m not the only one who really enjoyed being back in a physical trade show environment and catching up face to face with industry colleagues. Our exhibitors are pleased with the event, and the retailers and buyers who joined us are equally enthusiastic (visit our photo gallery from the event on our Facebook page). It was well supported by all key retailers and across all areas of our industry.
This show, which we presented in conjunction with GaP Solutions, is the first time since the pandemic that we’ve had a ‘near normal’ trade experience here in South Australia – QR codes and tracing records notwithstanding. It brings home to me, again, the importance of being able to physically meet, talk, see and sample products, and share our knowledge for the good of all in the sector.
We are still gathering feedback on outcomes from the event, but we already know benefits for exhibitors have included strengthened customer relationships and new sales leads, not to mention direct feedback on new products ranging from cured carp to vegan crackling, and even healthy ice treats for dogs.
As one show ends, we’re already on to the next, and we are looking forward to showcasing our state’s products at Fine Food Sydney in September.
But normal isn’t really normal, as we all know. Even as we packed up from this show, over in Japan our in-country representatives were setting up to represent South Australian brands at Foodex in Tokyo with a limited showcase to enable customers connect. In just a few weeks, we will do the same at SIAL China in Shanghai – a far cry from our normal activities at this show managing over 400sqm of the Australia Pavilion for food and beverage manufacturers from around Australia – but still a key activity to protect market share and support export growth.
The uncertainty around travel was always in our minds as we planned for the South Australia Food-Beverage-Technology show, so we added our own version of Plan B to our show package. Over the two days we recorded 54 brand spotlight videos so that the exhibiting food manufacturers could still connect with local and interstate buyers who couldn’t attend the event with a digital showcase of their products.
At the same time, we had another video crew at work, filming a virtual tour of the show and talking with exporting food and beverage businesses. This mini project was under the auspices of the South Australia Food and Beverage Export Hub and the resulting videos will be shared with our buyer network in key export markets.
I have written for this publication previously about the importance of digital assets for food and beverage businesses as we seek ways to strengthen customer relationships and keep Australian products front-of-mind in overseas markets. These filming projects are breaking new ground for the services Food South Australia offers and we are looking forward to getting feedback on them from both manufacturers and buyers.
Our trade show program is presented with support through our Industry-Government Partnership with the South Australian government, helping us deliver programs to drive industry-wide growth and to support our mission to sustain the South Australian food and beverage industry. The Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon Stephen Patterson MP was able to join us for a tour of the South Australia Food-Beverage-Technology Trade Show and met with many of the exhibitors, offering him that important firsthand opportunity to see and sample the products on show.
Travel may get easier over time but, just as happened with Zoom becoming a part of our lives last year, I predict the current physical/virtual/hybrid approach is going to stabilise as an industry norm for trade shows and other activities focused on growing sales and markets. There are benefits to all approaches. We’re all human, after all, and we need our connections.
About Catherine Sayer
Catherine has led Food South Australia since it was established in 2010, passionately guiding the development of the industry’s peak body with a focus on industry growth and advocacy. She also is a member of and Chairs a number of Boards.
About Food South Australia
Food South Australia is the state’s peak body for the food and beverage industry, with a mission to support and sustain the industry in the state by helping businesses of all sizes to grow their markets, capability, and industry connections. Food South Australia is independent, industry led, and membership based.