Postcard from the South Australia Meals-Beverage-Expertise Commerce Present

Catherine Sayer

Greetings from SA: I wish you were here, but we've got you covered in case you don't …

By Catherine Sayer, CEO of Food South Australia.

I'm writing this fresh from South Australia's first ever food and beverage technology trade show, held in Adelaide last month, where 54 food and beverage manufacturers and 27 industrial service providers presented their goods to over 800 key decision makers and buyers.

I know from all the great conversations I had during the two days of the fair that I am not the only one who really enjoyed being in a physical exhibition environment again and meeting with colleagues from the industry in person. Our exhibitors are happy with the event and the retailers and buyers who have joined us are equally delighted (visit our photo gallery from the event on our Facebook page). It has been well supported by all major retailers and across all areas of our industry.

This show, which we presented in collaboration with GaP Solutions, is the first time since the pandemic that we have had an “almost normal” trading experience here in South Australia – despite QR codes and tracking records. It shows me once again the importance of physically meeting, speaking, seeing and trying products and sharing our knowledge for the benefit of everyone in the industry.

We're still collecting feedback on the results of the event, but we already know the benefits for exhibitors are in strengthening customer relationships and generating new sales, not to mention direct feedback on new products ranging from carp to vegan Crackles to healthy ice cream treatments are enough for dogs.

When one show ends, we're already at the next and look forward to showcasing our state's products at Fine Food Sydney in September.

But normal is not really normal as we all know. While we were saying goodbye to this show, our local representatives settled in Japan to represent South Australian brands at Foodex in Tokyo with a limited showcase so customers can socialize. In just a few weeks, we'll be doing the same at SIAL China in Shanghai – a far cry from our normal activities at this show, which manages more than 400 square feet of the Australia Pavilion for food and beverage manufacturers from across Australia – but still one Key activity to protect market share and support export growth.

The uncertainty about travel was always on our minds when planning for the South Australia Food-Beverage-Technology Show, so we added our own version of Plan B to our show package. During the two days we recorded 54 brand spotlight videos so that the exhibiting food manufacturers can continue to interact with local and international buyers who were unable to attend the event with a digital presentation of their products.

At the same time, we had another video team at work filming a virtual tour of the show and speaking to the export food and beverage company. This mini-project was sponsored by the South Australia Food and Beverage Export Hub and the resulting videos will be shared with our network of buyers in key export markets.

I wrote earlier about the importance of digital assets to food and beverage companies for this release as we look for ways to strengthen customer relationships and keep track of Australian products in overseas markets. These shooting projects are breaking new ground for the services that Food South Australia provides and we look forward to receiving feedback from both manufacturers and buyers.

Our exhibition program is supported by our industry-government partnership with the South Australian government. It helps us provide programs to drive industry-wide growth and support our mission to support the South Australian food and beverage industry. The Secretary of Commerce and Investment, the Hon Stephen Patterson MP, was able to tour the South Australia Food-Beverage-Technology Trade Show with us and met with many exhibitors to give him the important firsthand opportunity to do so see and taste products on display.

Travel may get easier over time, but just as Zoom became a part of our lives last year, I expect the current physical / virtual / hybrid approach to be the industry norm for trade shows and other activities aimed at increasing sales , will stabilize and markets. All approaches offer advantages. We are all human, after all, and we need our connections.

About Catherine Sayer

Catherine has headed Food South Australia since its inception in 2010 and is passionate about leading the development of the industry's governing body with a focus on industry growth and advocacy. She is also a member and chairman of a number of boards.

About food South Australia

Food South Australia is the state's leading association for the food and beverage industry, dedicated to supporting and sustaining the industry in the state by helping companies of all sizes develop their markets, capabilities and industry connections. Food South Australia is independent, industry leader and membership focused.

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