The Covid-19 pandemic has played havoc with traditional style fresh produce conferencing around the world.

The latest victim is the special event – Fruit Logistica Special Edition 2021 – which was in any event only going to be a hybrid trade fair, and nothing like the glorious trade fairs of the past which normally takes place in February in Berlin in Germany.

The organizers, Messe Berlin, announced today via the Fruitnet news lines that it has cancelled their hybrid trade fair because of the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

Magical plums

“I’m quite sure today’s cancellation is no surprise to anyone,” says Madlen Miserius, the event’s senior product manager. “The coronavirus pandemic is lasting longer than expected. We wanted to make an onsite event happen in May. But the prospects both for international business travel to Berlin and for large, face-to-face gatherings are too low. And under these circumstances, it’s simply impossible for us to meet face to face.”

It is in this environment that the Fruitnet Group’s international events and conference programme is becoming extremely relevant because it is produced on-line and people from across the world are participating in a number of global events. Amongst these are Global Berry Congress, Global Tomato Congress, Global Avocado Congress and Global Citrus Congress.

The latest edition is Global Grape Congress, a nine hour event which will be presented across the world, from East to West, and will join together every possible person interested in table grapes around the world.

Fruit industry leaders are now getting used to talking virtually to their customers on a daily basis. Even technical discussions relating to market access are now conducted ‘long distance’ as some would put it.

The question is once Covid-19 is over – will we return to normal? One detects that people miss that personal contact. However, it is also fair to say that people do not perhaps need as much personal contact as in the past. We predict a mixture of long distance communication, with the odd face to face meeting thrown in.

One can only imagine that when that first Fruit Logistica in Berlin takes place after Covid-19, there is going to be a lot of joyful reunions in Berlin. There will be a lot of socializing and the German beers will go down well.

It is however not only the fresh produce business where Covid-19 has brought profound change. In other sectors of our lives people had to adjust to doing things differently. On television one now has live daily wildlife safaris. Without the opportunity to visit the bush, one can sit in the comfort of your home and watch the lions, leopards, cheetahs and elephants at play. And one can also see how wonderful the Kalahari desert looks this year after all the rain in the interior.

Not so leisurely – but certainly very effective – is the way a guy called JEFF – or Johno – has transferred the whole fitness world. In your lounge, screened on your television, you can follow fitness programmes which have effectively removed the need to ‘go to the gym’. It is a wonderful and innovative initiative, already joining 65 000 people together across the world. More than 27 000 kilo’s lost in the first year of Covid-19 – and some 125 000 centimeters around the bodies lost – by those who became JEFFERS. Visit – Jeff Together Facebook – to see what is going on. It is a revolution which started in the lounge of a home in Cape Town and which is changing the world by building a community of people who support one another.

Perhaps the fruit sector can also learn from this. No doubt the Fruitnet Group has already done so!