Supply Chain Council of European Union |

Bühler to host digital interpack amid COVID-19 outbreak

19 Mar 2020 — Globally, industry has seen a string of event cancellations and postponements amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of these disruptions, Bühler has postponed its interpack trade show in Düsseldorf, Germany, until next year. As businesses across the globe turn to digital solutions to sustain productivity, the Switzerland-headquartered supplier is organizing a virtual interpack event (May 11 to 15) under the motto “creating food sensations,” with digital showrooms, chats and webinars to present its latest technologies and developments.

“Currently Bühler teams are fully engaged in building the platform and the event agenda. The official program will be launched in the coming weeks. Sustainable innovations to help reduce waste, water and energy usage in the bakery, chocolate, confectionery and roasting industries is a key topic for Bühler and, therefore, will be addressed during the virtual interpack days. Other relevant topics are solutions for food safety, healthy ingredients and higher efficiency,” Burkhard Boendel, Head of Corporate Communications at Bühler, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

At interpack, Bühler planned to showcase its full range of processing solutions along the entire value chain. The aim was to feature a range of end products, from chocolate mass and enrobed baked goods to molded products, wafers and biscuits. With the recent announcement of the interpack cancellation, it will not be possible to present these solutions physically and to meet face-to-face with customers.

“The current challenges require us to explore new ways of reaching out and preparing for the future. In this case, it is by running events digitally and discovering the potential of virtual events. We ask all our customers and interested people to keep the interpack dates in their calendars,” says Germar Wacker, CEO of Bühler’s Consumer Foods business.

Click to EnlargeBühler’s interpack display.Within the next few days, Bühler will invite everyone who had planned to travel to Düsseldorf to join the company’s virtual booth online, get inspired by new end-product compositions, meet Bühler experts and sales people in chat rooms, or enter technical presentations online. 

“Though the news that interpack has been cancelled means that we will not showcase our latest innovations to customers in person, we will take this occasion to focus on digital communication alternatives, virtual presentations, and online conversations to keep our customers fully up-to-date,” says Wacker.

“In every challenge is an opportunity. In a world of change, perhaps we will discover that virtual trade shows offer efficient, impressive,and modern platforms to communicate and exchange about the developments and the state-of-the art solutions for a prosperous future of the consumer food markets,” he concludes.

Alternative discovery platforms such as virtual showrooms are a leverageable way for brands to engage with potential customers and consumers. Expo West bakery exhibitor Highkey, for instance, has unveiled a new “Virtual Expo Visit” on its website that enables visitors to request samples, ask questions or chat face-to-face with company representatives through a “Zoom Chat” feature.

Among other trade shows affected, Supply Side East has previously announced its postponement until June 23-24. Other affected events include Natural Products Expo West, hosted in Anaheim, US; Tokyo’s CPhI Japan; and CFIA, held in Rennes, France.

Chinese market inches toward normalization
To date, the COVID-19 outbreak has severely weighed down global supply chains – contributing to a World Food Price dip in February. The virus has been particularly impactful upon businesses of sea freight, who face significant bottlenecks to shipment flows. In addition, the outbreak has further caused disturbances to the beer market, which is challenged by the closure of entertainment venues and restaurants in impacted regions.

“The health and safety of Bühler employees and business partners is of vital importance. We have been working in close alignment with the local authorities and health care institutions worldwide, and implementing all the measures required to safeguard employees and associates,” Boendel tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

“Whereas in Europe and other regions the coronavirus continues to spread, in China we are seeing a trend towards normalization. All our sites in China which had been closed have been reopened and have resumed operations. We are taking all necessary measures to guarantee the continuity of production, sales, and technical support at the same quality level and without limitations,” he adds.

Looking ahead, he further maintains that sustaining direct communication with partners, suppliers and customers is key to tackling the situation in a sensible and pragmatic manner. “We are constantly identifying the emerging needs of our business partners and together looking for solutions. In challenging times we combine flexibility, motivation and focus to take the necessary steps and move forward.”

By Benjamin Ferrer

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