Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America drops mask mandate
Diversified Communications, the organizer of the 2022 Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, will no longer require attendees to wear masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
The city of Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. – the host venue for the expo – will drop its indoor mask mandate beginning Saturday, 5 March, though masks will still be required on public transportation and in health care settings. Seafood Expo North America is scheduled to take place Sunday, 13 March through Tuesday, 15 March, 2022 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
“Given this news, masks will no longer be required to enter the event,” Diversified Communications said in a 3 March press release. “However, in consideration of your fellow attendees, we encourage you to wear a mask, especially when in crowded areas.”
The event dropped its requirement that attendees show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 on 24 February, following Boston’s own decision to lift the requirement for indoor spaces including event venues. Diversified said it will continue to post health and safety updates on the SENA/SPNA website. [Editor’s note: Diversified Communications also owns and operates SeafoodSource].
Diversified confirmed some of the companies attending this year’s event include Avramar, Camanchaca, Chicken of the Sea, Clearwater, Cooke Aquaculture, Eastern Fish, Eastern Fisheries, Gumusdoga, Handy International, Hofseth, Inland Seafood, Lenger Seafood Group, Lund’s Fisheries, Kilic, Mazzetta Company, Northern Wind, Ocean Beauty, Orca Bay, Pacific Seafood Group, PrimStar BV, Seattle Shrimp, Southwind Foods, Trident Seafood, and Viciunai Group. It said it recently added several new exhibitors to the SENA line-up, including Export Partner/NEC, Australian Trade (Austrade), Amende & Shultz, Blue Evolution, Devi Seafoods, Inc, Maldives Fisheries Promotions Board, Superior Lobster, and Vietocean Seafood Vietnam.
“The event currently has more than 830 exhibiting companies in over 180,000 square feet of exhibit space,” Diversified Communications Event Director Wynter Courmont said. “Representing 70 percent the size of the event in 2019 and still being by far the largest gathering of seafood professionals in North America is an impressive offering of value to seafood buyers in a year impacted by COVID-19.”
High-volume buyers from retail and foodservice companies “continue to express their interest in the event,” Diversified said.
Some of those registered to attend the 2022 edition of Seafood Expo North America include Acme, Albertsons, Bloomin’ Brands, Captain D’s, Costco, Darden, Delaware North, Foodbuy, Giant Eagle, H-E-B, Jewel Osco, Kroger, Loblaw, Long John Silvers, McDonald’s, PFG, Publix, Red Lobster, Sam’s Club, Stop & Shop, Sysco, Target, The Cheesecake Factory, Walmart, Wegmans, Whole Foods, and US Foods.
“I have been attending the Seafood Expo in Boston as a buyer for many years, and I am looking forward to attending this March,” Captain D’s Chief Supply Chain Officer Brad Clark said in a press release. “This event is a great opportunity for me to meet with my existing suppliers as well as meet new suppliers and look for new products to carry in our restaurants. After two years of not being able to meet in person, it is more important now than ever to be able to attend the expo to do business.”
Diversified touted statistics saying important seafood-buying decisions are made during and immediately after the exposition. In the 2019 version of the event, Diversified said, 85 percent of surveyed visitors were involved or influence purchasing decisions, 71 percent planned on making a purchase as a result of attending the event, and 88 percent found new products or companies.
“Our team is excited to attend this year’s Seafood Expo North America. Our industry has changed significantly in the past two years. Consumer preferences are different, suppliers have expanded [or] narrowed their product offerings, and new associates have joined our teams,” Delaware North Director Category Management, Food, Josephine Theal said. “More than ever, we need valuable partnerships to plan ahead for what’s next. Our team has determined that attending the show will help us achieve this in the best way.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a raft of changes to how the seafood industry conducts business, making it even more important for industry representatives to attend the event, given the trade show’s breadth of experiences and opportunities to learn more about what’s new, Diversified said. The Seafood Excellence Awards competition, which will award prizes for Best New Retail Product and Best New Foodservice Product, will take place on Sunday, March 13 at 3 p.m. at SENA, and through the three-day event, Seafood Expo North America’s conference program will be running educational sessions designed to provide “practical information pertaining the most important and timely issues relevant to today’s seafood business environment.”
“Seafood buyers have had challenges sourcing new products, and yet the need for new products has grown as North American consumers became more comfortable cooking seafood at home. Experts predict this growing retail demand will continue, at the same time as restaurant business continues to rebound and consumers look for new products,” it said. “This year’s event will feature 86 new and featured product showcase entries from 35 exhibiting companies – a one-stop shop for buyers looking for new and creative products and solutions.”
Giant Eagle Director of Seafood Rich Castle said the expo is a great opportunity to learn more about how the industry is operating.
“I always find the seafood expo a very valuable experience in terms of education, product innovation, and relationship building. There is a huge opportunity in the U.S. to improve the per capita consumption of seafood,” Castle said. “[Seafood Expo North America] allows a lot of very smart people to share ideas and push forward products and processes that will improve sustainability, efficiencies, and customer acceptance. Myself and my team will be attending because we always come home energized and focused on implementing new products, processes, and services that will help drive our desire to be ‘best in class.’”