Veggieworld is a pioneer in vegan trade fairs and has undergone rapid expansion. Now the organizers want to conquer the vegan world, and are looking to Italy and Asia. We talked to Hendrik Schillkes about the past year and the organization’s new expansion plans.
How did 2018 go for you?
2018 was definitely a success. Besides Germany, we visited 8 countries and were able to experience that vegan lifestyles are on the rise everywhere.
Which premieres did you have this year in which cities, and what was the response like there?
We had premieres in Warsaw and Lisbon this year. Warsaw was a great experience. A lot of positive, vegan energy and great people. Unfortunately, for economic reasons and because of the massive competition in the Polish market, we will not be repeating the fair for the time being.
With 50 exhibitors, VeggieWorld Lisbon was the smallest trade fair to date. With 3,500 visitors, the exhibitors got their money’s worth. The Lisbon location definitely has potential.
China will be on the programme for the first time in 2019, what are the advantages of Hangzhou as a venue?
Yes, we are taking the big step of expanding into Asia. Hangzhou is also known as the garden in the hinterland of Shanghai. The city is not just one of the greenest and most beautiful cities in China, but also one of the fastest-growing and most innovative. It is not for nothing that e-commerce giant Alibaba has its headquarters in Hangzhou. Today, more than a third of e-commerce companies and over 40 percent of all B2B trading platforms in China are based in Hangzhou.
Hangzhou is also a large student city and home to our partner Just Right Exhibitions. Their Super Health Expo takes place at the same time and in the same hall as VeggieWorld.
How many vegans are there in China, and how is the vegan market developing there?
Various statistics suggest that there are 20 million vegans living in China. This makes China the country with the most vegan people in the world. Unfortunately, there are hardly any credible statistics. However, various sources indicate that there will be a very positive trend there in the coming years. Both the number and the size of vegan and vegetarian NGOs in China is increasing. ProVeg is also striving to penetrate the Chinese market. In addition, government representatives recommended a vegan or at least a vegetarian lifestyle for the first time this year.
Can companies still register for VeggieWorld in China?
Yes, absolutely. We already have numerous registrations from China itself. We also have registrations from other Asian countries. There’s a lot of interest from Europe. There are often numerous telephone calls and considerations between the interest and the final signature, however. Of course, we will support European exhibitors extensively in all areas of planning and preparation.
What other innovations will there be in 2019?
In 2019, we will be celebrating our premieres in Turin, Madrid and Hong Kong in addition to Hangzhou. Italy has long been on our list, but sometimes it takes a while to find the right person to implement it. This has now happened, and in March the first VeggieWorld will take place in Turin.
Madrid is the logical and much-requested addition to our very successful VeggieWorld in Barcelona. Hong Kong has been developing into a vegan hotspot for some years now. The openness of Hong Kong in terms of import and trade with foreign companies makes it an exciting market for us.