Carsten Holm (Copenhagen, 1962) is the managing director of Diversified Business Communications UK, one of the Europe’s leading trade fair organizers, with a national and international focus on events related to the organic sector. It currently organizes more than 20 leading trade events in the market, including the professional meeting Organic Food Iberia, that will be held on 8-9 September at the IFEMA-Madrid.

Carsten Holm
Carsten Holm, Diversified Business Communications UK Managing Director

Organic Food Iberia is back at IFEMA – Madrid next September. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

To be honest, we can’t wait to see everyone again. The past year has been so difficult for everyone, and it was tough not being able to follow up on the very successful launch of Organic Food Iberia. However, whilst the past year has been very hard for economies across the world, it has focused consumers on the need for a more sustainable world and looking after their own health, so it’s actually had a really positive impact on the organic sector with many European markets reporting double-digit growth, including Spain.

The other thing the pandemic has done is to remind people that we can’t replace face-to-face and trade fairs, as the most important place for communities to come together to network, celebrate, learn and do business. This year’s edition comes at a very important time for the sector and will be a real celebration of the success of the industry.

Which major changes will professionals find in this year’s edition?

We feel the most appropriate theme this year is ‘A Celebration of Organic’, as it will be the first time the industry has come together since the pandemic. We will be working hard on making it special, and to make it the largest, most important celebration for the organic business and producing community. Furthermore, we are also working on an international hosted buyers program and will have the already proven formula of seminar theatres, new product showcase, and of course great networking. Also, importantly for those people not able to attend, we will be working on a solution for visitors from further afield to attend the event virtually, with pre-arranged meetings with exhibitors.

The first and only edition of Organic Food Iberia (2019) was a great success. How many exhibitors and visitors are expected to be at IFEMA this year?

It is so difficult to say, but the signs are really positive.  For instance, during April, we surveyed the visitors from the first edition of the show, and an impressive 88% said they were Definitely or Very Likely to attend the show in September. Considering how quickly things are improving, we believe that figure will go up between now and September, so even though things aren’t quite back to ‘old-normal’, we expect figures to be at least similar to 2019.

“We will be working hard on making it special, and to make it the largest, most important celebration for the organic business and producing community”

Organic Food Iberia is about great food products produced using high quality standards and with the guarantee of the EU organic seal. What can you tell us about Organic Wine Iberia?

We are very excited about the support we have had for Organic Wine Iberia, with some amazing wines produced to the same high standards as organic food. For some reason, organic wine has been slower to reach volume, but as consumers become more and more concerned about what they eat and drink, there is a real sense of accelerated growth in the sector, with a five-fold increase in consumption over the past 5 years. Once again, Spain has led the way, with an increase in the area dedicated to organic vineyards of nearly 500%.  The world consumption of organic wine over a 10-year period, between 2012 and 2022, is expected to increase over 300%, from 350 million bottles to over a billion. It’s a very exciting sector and one we are very proud to support.

Natural & Organic Cosmetics also play a relevant show in your show – Eco Living Iberia. What can we expect from the sector in this year’s edition?

We are seeing a lot of innovation and development in natural and organic household products and cosmetics, which are kinder to people’s skin, and of course, much better for the environment. It is no surprise that, along with organic food and wine, we are seeing other eco-friendly products following the same trends. The category is expected to see accelerating growth over the coming years, and ECO Living Iberia, collocated with Organic Food Iberia, will be the most important place this year to see the trends taking place in this sector.

“This year’s edition comes at a very important time for the sector and will be a real celebration of the success of the industry”

The COVID-19 forced the suspension and postponement of most of last year’s professional meetings. Has the pandemic changed the trade show paradigm? Are we heading towards digitalization or the is nothing even comparable to face-to-face meetings?

I have absolutely no doubt that the pandemic has proved that there is no substitute for trade shows as the most effective way to promote, sell and do business. Before the pandemic, UFI –the international association of exhibition organizers– conducted a survey of 13,000 buyers to trade shows across Europe, where they asked which was the most effective way to source new products. Trade shows not only came out on top, but they were three times more effective than the second most effective method. Yet, there was much talk of the demise of the traditional trade show model when COVID-19 arrived, and a prediction that expos would move to digital.

However, whilst digital has played a role in keeping people informed, it’s role as a generator of business has so far proved very limited. I have always felt if you want an online trade show, go to Google. Unfortunately, even Google can’t give you the experience to taste, see, smell, feel, meet and be entertained with other human beings who share the same interest as you.

Author: Oriol Urrutia, Co-Editor

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