This year’s European Seafood Exposition and Seafood Processing Europe at the beginning of May is proof that the worldwide seafood industry is back on the right track. At what is the world’s largest seafood gathering there were reminders from the financial crisis and volcanic ash clouds from Iceland, but there was also a lot that indicated that the economic arrows are pointing in the right direction in most seafood markets.
The Norwegian pavilion was bigger than ever with 46 companies participating in addition to the arrangers of the event Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Seafood Export Council. The Norwegian stands in this hall were among the most visited at the trade fair. There were also a number of other Norwegian seafood related companies spread around the numerous other halls. Arena Nordland had its own pavilion with many companies represented. In addition, Marine Harvest had its own place as usual. Grieg Seafood and a couple of other seafood parties from Norway did as well.
There were also more Norwegian participants than usual in the process hall and among them were known firms such as First Process, Optimar, Stette, West Pack, Egersund nett and several others. This hall had many more visitors this year compared to last according to the participants. This was certainly true during the fair’s second day. But even when the aisles were not full of people between the rows of stands it was still seething with life and noise from machines and equipment processing seafood live. Interested participants could see how things worked before moving on to other things.
Even though we have not managed to obtain the newest numbers, there is much to indicate that the total number of visitors is back to the levels they were before the financial crisis. In any case, that was the feedback from the participants in the most visited halls. Last year at the 19th seafood gathering in a row there were about 24,000 visitors from 140 different countries. Around 1,600 companies from 80 countries participated this year with their own stands in the halls. Last year the volcanic ash from Iceland put a little damper on the event and this lead to a few cancellations at the end. That did not happen this year.
For many of the participants at this annual event in Brussels the personal relationships are the most important part of it for them. The European Seafood Exposition and Seafood Processing Europe are huge social meeting places for everyone that has something to do with the seafood industry. New contacts are made, business cards are exchanged and contracts are written. In the city centre of Brussels you could see signs that something big was going on in Belgium’s capital. Summer weather lasting for the three-day duration of the fair made it so that most of the outdoor restaurants were packed at night. For many participants they went through three long, hectic days that lasted from early in the morning to late at night.