Trade show organizer and publisher Diversified Communications UK Ltd., announced in May the launch of its new trade event Organic Food Iberia – OFI. The first edition will take place along with Eco Living Iberia in Madrid on June 6-7, 2019. Spain has long been a big player in Europe for many years when it comes to the supply of fresh produce, also with organic certification, even biodynamic. Carsten Holm managing director at Diversified UK shared with OWN more information about this exciting new venture.

OWN: Diversified UK already produces Natural & Organic Products – NOPE in London and Nordic Organic Food Fair- NOFF in Malmo, with sister events in Hong Kong, and Australia. And there are already other international organic food fairs in Europe. Why does the international market need another event, why Spain, and how did Diversified UK got attracted to this idea?

CH: Spanish exhibitors at our other trade shows told us that Spain needs its own dedicated trade-only event for the sector, and they felt we would be the ideal organizers, due to our expertise and international contacts, and reputation as a producer of high-quality events. After many conversations like that, we decided to take a close look at the market. It became clear that the wish to launch a highly targeted trade show was shared by many, who feel the time has come for the region to host an international trade fair which would reflect the increasing importance of the market to the economy.  However, we soon realized that this need wasn’t restricted to Spain, but also Portugal, so the event became Organic Food Iberia, to represent all of the Iberian Peninsula.

OWN: Why has been Madrid the selected venue and why the month of June?

CH: Many cities offered to host the event, but Madrid is so central to the Iberian Peninsula, with amazing transport links from any part of Spain and Portugal, as well as, of course, the rest of the World. The exhibition center, IFEMA, is recognized as one of the top ten in Europe and is literally only one stop away from the airport by Metro. We feel that being hosted in such a prestigious venue helps to set the ambitions for a major international event.

And why June?  We didn’t want to be close to any of the established European events for the sector, creating a clear dateline for OFI.  Secondly, it coincides with the key harvest season for fresh fruit and vegetables. And thirdly, the weather is perfect, and we thought it would be very difficult for international buyers to resist a couple of days away in the sun in this amazing city!

OWN: Would you mention challenges and opportunities when embarking on a new event and in another country and culture?

CH: As a UK based company, it would be impossible for our current team to deliver a professional show in Spain. The most difficult thing was to find a native Spanish and Portuguese speaking team with the experience we needed. But I am pleased to say that now we have a dedicated OFI marketing team, all speaking native Spanish or Portuguese. We have been lucky to be working with a highly experienced local partner, Susana Andres, who has helped us to understand the market and making introductions. We also put together an Advisory Panel, consisting of around 20 key stakeholders and associations, who met at NOPE last April. It was at this meeting that it was agreed to go ahead with the launch.   

OWN: Diversified UK understands the organic and natural sectors. Besides its two successful industry events, NOPE in London and NOFF in Malmo, you also launched in September Go Organic Festival in London, to celebrate organic food and brands with end consumers. What do you expect to be unique at Organic Food Iberia compared to NOPE and NOFF?

CH: It’s a fact, and not as well-known as it should be, that Spain is the biggest organic producer and has more land allocated to organic than any other country in Europe, with over 2M hectares. It’s the 4th largest producer in the world, with over 40,000 operators, so it’s not surprising that its continued development is one of the key policy priorities for the Spanish government. In terms of consumption, the market grew by over 20% last year.

Portugal is also growing rapidly, with over 4,000 producers and increasing consumption.  So, the only surprise is that the region doesn’t already have a major dedicated international trade show.

In terms of difference to NOPE and NOFF, there is no way that either of those two shows can properly help to promote Iberia on the international stage – the region needs its targeted trade show, which we believe has the potential to become one of the highlights of the international trade show calendar.

OWN: Tell us about the international marketing campaign and hosted buyer program for OFI

CH: It was clear that it had to become an important international show from the beginning. We have a dedicated team developing a marketing campaign which will cover buyers across Europe.  In addition, we are running a hosted buyer program for around 100 VIPs, where we will pay for travel and accommodation. Furthermore, it has been decided to provide a promotion for one night’s free hotel accommodation for up to 500 pre-qualified buyers.  In short, we intend to make sure that nothing is left to chance.

OWN: You anticipate over 300 exhibitors in the first year, 20 percent taking part in the Eco Living Iberia show. How many from outside Spain?

CH: It is difficult at this stage to say what the final makeup will look like, but my guess is that it will be around the 70 / 30 split. 

OWN: As a show organizer, what do you find unique to the organic sector compared to other industries your company serves?

Organic is in our DNA! That’s where we come from with NOPE and Natural Products Magazine, and that’s where our passion lies. The great thing about the sector is that it is full of passionate people who care about making a difference, and there is a real reason why the world needs to become organic. It is not just about selling products. We try to spread the basic ethos from organic across everything that we do.

Diversified Communications UK Ltd is part of Diversified Communications, a leading family-owned company with headquarters in Portland, Maine, USA and a growing global network of media, events, and divisions in the USA, Canada, the UK, Hong Kong, and Australia. It started in 1949 and now owns nearly 50 brands, runs over 100 events annually, and produces 7 publications and more than 25 digital products.