Josh Sosland 2019KANSAS CITY — In the days leading to the postponement of Natural Products Expo West, frustrations bubbled over among stakeholders. The head of a growing food company that decided to withdraw criticized event organizer New Hope for seeming to be “forcing companies to choose between having to lose what to many of them is the largest investment of the year or to face what could turn out to be a potential threat to their health and well-being.”

While such sentiments suggest an easy decision for New Hope, a business of Informa Markets, the reality was anything but simple. In addition to honoring the plans of the significant attendees still committed to attending the show up to the last minute, the organizers were monitoring and closely following recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Postponing the show was not consistent with the CDC guidance. New Hope also observed that the Disneyland theme park remained open, one mile from the Anaheim, Calif., convention center.

Across the range of meetings scheduled for this time of year, frustration on all sides is understandable. Besides the serious economic impact from cancellations on organizers and exhibitors (the effects on other registrants is not inconsequential), the effort required to produce, participate in or present at meetings is extraordinary. The lost opportunity to meet with potential customers is costly. Amid the uncertainty of the outbreak, patience and understanding are qualities sorely needed.