Not just Fespa but all exhibitions need to think beyond postponements

Fespa Eurasia postponed to December 2021

The Fespa Eurasia event was to take place in December 2020

27 August 2020. You have probably already heard by now that Fespa Eurasia in Istanbul is postponed to 2-5 December 2021. Let us try to be an authoritative source for visitors and exhibitors. 


Firstly, the main Fespa, which is in Europe and called the Global Print Expo 2021, has been postponed to 9 to 12 March 2021 in Amsterdam. Originally planned for Madrid earlier this year, it will be run together with the European Sign Expo 2021 and Sportswear Expo 2021. There is also a Fespa Mexico scheduled from 26 to 28 November 2020 in Mexico City.

European trade fairs are looking at hybrid events

From what we have heard from the Germany based organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair scheduled for October 2020 and drupa 2021, which was postponed and shortened to 20 to 28 April 2021, these fairs are at a minimum concerned about the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery situations. They realize that global participation will be minimal and that they can, at best, expect European visitors. While FBF has already created a ‘Special Edition’ hybrid even with a strong virtual or digital component (with financial support from the German government), it is clear that drupa 2021 will have to do the same.


Similarly, we believe Fespa’s Global Print Expo in Amsterdam in early March will have to have a robust virtual component to be of any real interest to global visitors. Especially visitors from India who have no idea when they will be allowed to travel overseas, let alone given visas and the possibility of arriving anywhere without quarantine periods. As far as Indian exhibitors at Fespa’s Global Print Expo 2021, they say that they cannot rationally take any steps to take part and cannot foresee the situation changing soon enough.


The problem is not just for Fespa or drupa but for all forthcoming exhibitions. The infection rates, the likely availability of a vaccine, travel conditions and constraints, and the visitors and exhibitors’ economic imperatives are to be taken into account. How can these be balanced with the will to do business without risking employees’ and customers’ health? Some global companies have already written off participation in events till at least the first half of 2021. 

Fespa Eurasia 

This brings us to the Fespa decision to postpone FESPA Eurasia, originally scheduled from 3 – 6 December 2020. “The exhibition, which is hosted in partnership with Fespa’s Turkish Association ARED, will now take place from 2 – 5 December 2021 at the Istanbul Expo Centre in Turkey.’


The organizers admit the move, ‘reflects the ongoing uncertainty and business disruption caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic, and FESPA’s focus on safeguarding the health and safety of exhibitors, visitors, and contractors.’ 


Fespa CEO Neil Felton comments, “The feedback from our FESPA Eurasia exhibitor and visitor community has been very positive and we’re enthusiastic about returning to Istanbul in December 2021 to provide a regional event platform that supports the market with business recovery and celebrates the industry.” 


2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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