One of the biggest firms to pull out, Illinois-based multinational Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), issued the following statement: “ADM’s top priority is the safety of our colleagues. Given recent events in France, ADM has decided to cancel our participation at FiE 2015 in Paris. We have been participating at FiE as an exhibitor for more than a decade now and plan to participate in future shows.
“ADM’s global security team continuously assesses the risk that global events present to the safety and security of our colleagues. We understand that the FiE event organisers have put into place extra security measures and we appreciate their efforts. However, after assessing the current state of uncertainty in Paris in general, we have decided not to participate in the show this year.”
Ingredion, also HQ'd in Illinois, has also decided not to attend but did not respond to our request for comment in time for publication.
The attacks carried out by Islamic State killed 130 people and injured over 350 on Friday the 13th of this month.
France has been on high alert since the attacks on cafés, restaurants, a sports stadium and a music venue.
Despite this the city will also host world leaders next week for the United Nations (UN) 2015 Climate Change Conference (COP 21). Security is expected to be intensified for the event taking place between November 30 and December 11.
24,000 registrations, 145 nations
Event organiser UBM responded saying safety and comfort of attendees was "paramount". Increased security measures including 24-hour security with dogs, police patrols in and around the venue, checks on cars and trucks and airport-style metal detectors at entrances have been put in place.
The City of Paris is providing assistance for areas with large concentrations of people as well as hotels.
Natasha Berrow, food group director for UBM EMEA, said some conference programme speakers had pulled out, but had been replaced or would present remotely.
However Berrow said so far UBM had been “very encouraged” by the level of visitor registrations.
“Currently we have over 24,000 registrations from more than 145 Countries and 97% of exhibitors have reconfirmed their participation. Fi Europe is the most influential and important three days for the industry and we’re preparing for another successful edition.”
She said staff had been working hard to reassure exhibitors and visitors the appropriate safety measures had been taken.
In an earlier official statement, UBM said visitor registrations had still been strong, up 6% on 2013 for the same pre-show period.
However it added: “With the recent events in Paris, we do expect visitors numbers to be lower than previously anticipated. We however cannot pre-empt the impact on our visitor numbers.”
Business as usual
Cargill, Avebe, Glanbia and Dohler are among the big firms that will take to their stands in Villepinte, near Charles de Gaulle airport in north eastern Paris.
In a statement Carla Clissmann, commercial director of Glanbia Nutritionals, told us: “Our view is that it is all business as usual, with staff travelling to the show from across the world.”
Meanwhile, Cargill told us: “Safety is our first priority in this situation. Based on the many safety measures taken by the organisers at this time, as well as discussions with other exhibitors and some of our customer contacts, we have decided to participate in FiE as planned.
“We continue to monitor the situation and consider this to be a decision that remains subject to any developments in the direct surroundings of Villepinte.”
It’s clear however the 32 missing exhibitors will leave space tough to fill on the exhibition floor. Berrow said UBM had been “quite creative” in response to this. ADM’s stand space would be filled with the FiE TV crew’s live streaming studio.
There would also be feature areas like a ‘selfie’ stand and some areas would be walled off.
She said considering recent events the overriding message from exhibitors and visitors had been one of support and solidarity.