Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market was the latest buyer to announce it was not attending the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA, before the trade show’s organizers decided to officially postpone the event.
It was scheduled to take place March 4-7, with an estimated 80,000 attendees.
The postponement comes amid a flurry of news articles and social media posts calling for the event’s cancellation amid concerns of the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19.
On March 2, Sprouts said “after careful consideration of recent developments surrounding COVID-19, we have decided not to attend Expo West. This was a difficult decision to make, but the health and safety of our team and vendor community takes priority.”
The company said it plans to “honor our tradition of meeting existing and new partners at Expo West and are actively planning how to meet with our vendor partners in person or virtually in the near future.”
Bolthouse Farms also planned to pull out prior to the announcement. The company said in a LinkedIn post, “the leadership team at Bolthouse Farms made the difficult decision early today not to participate after careful consideration and out of an abundance of caution. We hope you understand and will see you at United Fresh later this year.”
The show’s organizer, New Hope Network, said in a statement it had originally planned to follow local authority recommendations, which did not indicate cancellation was necessary.
“It is now clear, despite continued advice from local government and health authorities that the City of Anaheim remains open, that the majority of our Community want the show, but they do not want it now.”
Fred Linder, Group President of New Hope Network, said in a statement:
“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.”
“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.”
Organizers plan to announce a new date – some time before the end of the summer — by mid-April, and work with exhibitors on credits and support, “with particular focus on the many entrepreneurs and small businesses who are the heartbeat of this community, for whom we are going to stand up a rebate fund of $5 million targeted at their specific needs.”
As of right now, September’s Expo East in Philadelphia is still on.