New Hope was forced to cancel the event days before it was due to open in March 2020 as a surge of cancellations made it clear it was becoming untenable. Exhibitors were initially told the show would run 'before the summer,’ but later advised of its cancellation, and encouraged to take exhibit space at Expo East. When this, too, was canceled, exhibitors were advised to regroup in Anaheim in March 2021.
In September 2020, however, with the pandemic still raging, the dates were pushed back from March 2-6, 2021 to May, 24-27, 2021, and New Hope now says it has become clear that it cannot go ahead with a face-to-face event in May.
“Unfortunately, we have now reached the incredibly difficult decision to cancel the in-person Expo West event this Spring, instead focusing our efforts on an enhanced Expo East event in September [in Philadelphia, Sept 22-25], which will serve as the platform for our community to connect in-person in 2021.”
The move will not come as a surprise to many stakeholders, with several industry sources arguing that May was always an optimistic timeframe given the vaccination schedule.
Expo West ‘Virtual Week’ May 24-27, 2021
Expo West Virtual Week (May 24-27, 2021) will expand to feature virtual booths, a comprehensive sampling program, networking opportunities, curated retailer/buyer programs, and conference programming focused on product innovations and trends, says New Hope.
Next steps for Expo West exhibitors
For brands scheduled to exhibit or sponsor at Expo West 2021, it adds: “We hope you will join us at the Expo East+ event this Fall and our New Hope sales account managers will work with each of you to determine next steps.”
Asked if exhibitors that had paid for a booth at Expo West but didn't want to exhibit at Expo East would get a refund, Carlotta Mast, SVP and market leader at New Hope Network, said: "New Hope will offer refunds to Expo West 2021 exhibitors and sponsors.
"We also have a variety of other offerings that can greatly help our customers get in front of, connect with and present their products and stories to buyers this year.
"This includes participating in September in the expanded Expo East show, which will provide more curated opportunities for exhibitors to connect with buyers and will showcase the product innovation and mission-driven brands that are accelerating our industry’s work to care for people and planet.
"We also have a range of digital opportunities and virtual events designed to help retailers and other buyers discover new products and connect with brands based on product category, theme or a buyer’s specific needs.
"Our 2021 Expo West exhibitors also have the opportunity to roll their funds over to Expo West 2022, which we are planning to be the most meaningful and impactful Expo West ever given the two-year hiatus."