The show, one of the largest trade expos in the nation, was set to start March 4 in Anaheim, Calif. The rescheduled date is expected to be announced by mid-April as show organizers pursue a pre-summer time frame.
“As with all our events, it was the intention here at Expo West in Anaheim to follow official guidance from local authorities and to listen to the voices of the community we serve and support, in order to maximize the health of the industry,” said Fred Linder, group president of New Hope Network, in a statement March 2. “Today, it is clear the majority of those voices are saying they want Expo West but not this week. And so we are being guided by that majority in postponing the show.”
Show organizers before the postponement were anticipating a 40% to 60% drop in attendance from previous years due to rampant concerns and related corporate travel restrictions amid the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus. About 200 companies that sell snacks and beverages in grocery and convenience stores had already dropped out, including Vita Coco, RxBar, Rise Brewing Co., Perfect Snacks, Organic Valley, Oatly, Nestle Waters North America, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Icelandic Provisions, Baja Jerky and Chameleon Cold-Brew.
As of March 2, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus had climbed to six, according to the Associated Press. At the beginning of March, there were approximately 90,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in more than 50 countries, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance for businesses to plan for and respond to the coronavirus, including encouraging sick employees to stay home, providing tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles and routinely cleaning all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace.
The Food Marketing Institute has also released new materials for its members to assist the food industry’s preparedness planning for COVID-19 via a Coronavirus Preparedness Checklist and Coronavirus and Pandemic Preparedness for the Food Industry guide.