The Icelandic volcanic ashes did not only seriously disrupt the air traffic over Europe. It also brought VIV Europe 2010, from 20 to 22 April, in a turbulent situation, as many of the expected visitors – especially from the Middle East, Russia and Asia – were depending on air traffic to reach Holland. Nevertheless more than 10,000 visitors from 96 countries all over the world made it to the Jaarbeurs Utrecht venue to meet with 85 per cent of the total expected field of exhibitors. Organizer VNU Exhibitions Europe commented: "This is a great example of the industry's solidarity."
VNU Exhibitions' Director International Exhibitions, Gerard Leeuwenburgh, said: "There is only one expression to describe the situation: force majeure.
"On Thursday afternoon, Schiphol Airport closed when all the show freight had arrived and the build-up of the exhibition was already in full swing. From that moment on, we monitored the air traffic situation by the minute. Eight-five per cent of the exhibitors had already reached VIV Europe by the weekend. Based on the number of exhibitors arrived and the fact that re-opening the air seemed a matter of hours we decided to go ahead with the show.
"During Sunday and Monday, it became clear that Schiphol Airport would not reopen soon enough to resume its regular flight schedule. We knew then that we would face a decline in the number of visitors from the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America as well as from the UK and some European countries further away. However, it was not possible to postpone or reschedule the exhibition at this last-minute stage. With 85 per cent of the companies present and so many innovations on display, it was simply too late. Build-up was on schedule. All arrangements had been made."
Mr Leeuwenburgh and his team constantly kept in close contact with as many exhibitors as possible, also the exhibitors who were not able to fly and be in time for the exhibition. From Saturday 17 April onwards, it was important to inform 'the world' that the trade show would take place as scheduled. The worldwide media in the industry helped spreading the news.
He added: "Of course, our customers deserved our major efforts to inform the industry professionals and call for their attendance. We had great assistance from the industry media in doing so. Towards the future, we will make considerable efforts for our customers to be in contact with the visitors they missed at VIV Europe 2010. We are match makers and take that role seriously. We will develop a virtual VIV Europe 2010 and invest heavily in a Key Buyer Attraction Program for VIV Asia 2011."
Mr Leeuwenburgh complimented the exhibitors on their realistic and optimistic attitude, saying: "Many exhibitors had innovations on display. They had planned customer events and meetings, which had to be cancelled or rescheduled due to the smaller number of guests. In addition, corporate meetings with distributors and agents could not take place. It is not easy to cope with these disappointments, but everyone made the best out of the difficult situation.
"I am impressed by the great spirit of many exhibitors and trade visitors in this industry."
Marketing Communications Manager, Judith Marques dos Reis-Koops, initially doubted if they would be able to meet up with their expectations.
She said: "Meyn Food Processing Technology had built a full factory situation as part of their presentation on the exhibition floor. We welcomed less visitors than we invited but the factory presentations were surely successful and for the larger part fully booked."
Intracare's Marketing Manager, Arjan Vandervoort, explained his experiences, saying "We were struck by the commitment of our customers who made it to the exhibition. Of course it was a lower quantity of people compared to our expectations, but they showed up, also to the ceremony for the official CTGB certificate – PT2, PT3 and PT4 – that we have recently obtained for Intra Hydrocare. It made our team 'more active than the volcano' and we have extracted the maximum possible out of this situation!"
Ovotrack's Managing Director, Job Beekhuis, was one of the companies with an innovation on display, the ECI (Egg Cargo Identifier). He was very keen on introducing the new smart and small product at VIV Europe. "This is the place-to-be for the introduction. We also scheduled two customer events. I was really worried when it became clear that air traffic would not resume in time, but in the end the events took place and we have found interesting new leads."
Mr Leeuwenburgh praises the visitors from outside the Netherlands who made the effort to come to Utrecht.
He said: "We have heard so many heartwarming stories! People travelling over long distances by car, bus or train. Guests from Israel took a plane to Italy and then travelled all the way through Europe by railway, finally arriving in Utrecht. Our Spanish sales agent travelled in a car pool with exhibitors. Other exhibitors and visitors came by car or buses from Italy, Turkey, Ukraine and Lebanon! A group of Chinese colleagues of De Heus Koudijs stranded in Warsaw. De Heus immediately arranged bus transport to Holland. CID Lines welcomed a group of guests from one of South-Africa's largest pig farms Number 2 Piggeries who had travelled from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town and then had a delay of almost four days in Johannesburg."
The VIV Europe 2010 Personality Awards were presented by Nigel Horrox of publishing company Positive Action Publications and Ruwan Berculo of VNU Exhibitions. The Awards are presented to personalities who 'have given over and above the call of duty' to their industries.
The International Poultry Production – VIV Europe Poultry Personality Award was presented to Henry Kuhl of Kuhl Inc. Henry is well known across Europe as a larger-than-life personality and pioneer with an exceptionally clean track record: his washers have cleaned everything from hatching eggs to crates around the world for as long as anyone can remember.
The International Hatchery Practice – VIV Europe Poultry Breeding Personality Award was given to Mrs Marleen Boerjan of Pas Reform Hatchery Technologies. Over the years, Marleen has been a tutor, mentor and inspiration to hatchery personnel across Europe and further afield. She has always had time to help, advise and assist at all levels and has done so with clarity of words, patience and a friendly smile.
The International Pig Topics – VIV Europe Pig Personality Award was presented to Dutch entrepreneur, Erik Thijssen. He produces pigs in Holland and Germany and has served his industry at all levels. He was until very recently chairman of the European Pig Producers and as such was an excellent ambassador for the pig industry across Europe.
Opening Conference: ethics and sustainability
The Opening Conference of VIV Europe 2010 focused on long term developments in the industry until 2020. Dirk Jan Kennes of Rabobank International pointed out the quantification of the long term developments. Up to 2020, 70 per cent of the growth of world meat demand will come from Asia. For feed, Asia will have to rely more and more on the import of feed ingredients from the Americas, while China will probably produce its feed and other products by themselves with those various crops from the Americas. Professor John Hodges' message stressed the fact that world agricultural and food production should be produced in a sustainable manner.
The final speaker, Ms. Gerda Verburg, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, also stressed the importance of sustainability. She said: "Sustainability is at the root of a better world. Sustainable forms of agriculture can prevent us from turning into the ultimate consumption society."
Ms Verburg listed a number of future focused developments already available in the Netherlands, such as improved housing for poultry and pigs, renewable energy and recovery of fertilizer from manure.
Chairman Professor Ruud Huirne of Wageningen University summarised the speakers and stressed the importance of increasing agricultural productivity, with the emphasis on sustainability.
Strong attendance at Eggs! conference
The special theme Eggs! was jointly presented by Watt Publishing and VIV Europe. This special theme had its own Eggs! pavilion in which the two day Eggs! conference was organised. The speakers – among whom was VIV Europe Poultry Personality Award-winner Ms Marleen Boerjan of Pas Reform – drew a large audience.
Chairman, Dr Simon Shane, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Poultry Science of North Carolina University presided over the conference of expert speakers, with subjects covering the full chain of the egg industry from breeder management to egg processing.
Special theme conference: meat safety
The Meat Safety Conference was forced to cancel the session on Tuesday due to the disrupted air traffic situation. Fortunately, the conference made a strong comeback on the Wednesday. In cooperation with Positive Action Publication Ltd, VIV Europe 2010 was able to present a worthwhile conference portraying the full scope of the subject of meat safety.