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Expo West, the US new products show, has been cancelled at the last minute as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus disease.

In a statement on the trade show’s official website, its organiser, New Hope Network, said the event, due to take place this week in Anaheim, California, is officially postponed, with the intention to announce a new date by mid-April.

A US$5m rebate fund is being set up by New Hope to help small companies affected by the decision.

The show – Natural Products Expo West 2020 to give it its full title – is a new products showcase attracting up and coming food businesses, amongst others, and as many as 90,000 attendees over four days.

New Hope’s statement said: “Since the international situation on COVID-19 [coronavirus] started in late January, New Hope, and our sister companies around the world have been guided by local government and health authority advice, as well the views of the communities we serve, in making decisions about our portfolio of events.

“Our commitment to serve and support our communities has led to the postponement/rescheduling of a number of events elsewhere across our wider group, to a date later in 2020.

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“In the particular case of New Hope’s Natural Products Expo, the situation has been very different in that the show was in-flight, with production underway, when the views of the community started to diverge. Some of our partners strongly advocated continuing with the show as planned. Some of our partners wanted the show, but not now, and some just wanted a straight-forward cancellation.

“Over the last 48 hours, we have worked with the community to try and serve those who want the show by delivering a great experience, and support those who want it, but not now, by working on credits and alternatives.

“It is now clear, despite continued advice from local government and health authorities that the City of Anaheim remains open, that the majority of our community want the show, but they do not want it now.”

New Hope said it intends to work with all exhibitors and a on future credits and support, “with particular focus on the many entrepreneurs and small businesses who are the heartbeat of this community, for whom we are going to stand up a rebate fund of US$5m targeted at their specific needs”. 

It added: “It is our intention to deliver a Natural Products Expo West event before the summer to serve the community, either in Anaheim or a suitable alternative location.” 

Fred Linder, group president of New Hope Network, said: “Today, it is clear the majority of those voices are saying they want Expo West but not this week. And so we are being guided by that majority in postponing the show.”

Yesterday (2 March), US-based protein powder, shakes and bars company Orgain, announced independently it was pulling out of the show.

Company founder Dr. Andrew Abraham said: “After carefully monitoring the global coronavirus situation and consulting colleagues, buyers, and medical experts, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Orgain’s presence at Natural Products Expo West this year.

“Orgain’s ongoing mission has been and will always be ‘people and health above all,’ and with so many unknowns surrounding this pandemic, our first priority is to protect everyone’s safety and well-being.”