Many CBD brands were dismayed by the announcement yesterday that the Expo West, the largest natural products tradeshow in the world, has been postponed due to concerns about the spreading coronavirus, a.k.a. Covid-19. The event was scheduled to take place this week in Anaheim, California.

This year’s Expo West was initially expected to draw as many as 85,000 attendees from around the globe, although concerns about a possible pandemic had already sparked hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees to cancel their travel plans.

“It is now clear, despite continued advice from local government and health authorities that the city of Anaheim remains open, that the majority of our community want the show, but they do not want it now,” the New Hope Network, which organizes the event, announced Monday evening.

However, the cancellation poses a particular problem for the CBD industry as Expo West “has become the go-to event” for CBD brands, according to Bethany Gomez, Managing Director at the CBD and cannabis market intelligence firm Brightfield Group.

“Many have invested a considerable amount of money, from already tight budgets, to get in front of retailers, distributors and potential partners…. In the future, brands may rethink their strategy here focusing in on smaller buyer-focused events like ECRM to avoid similar challenges.” — Gomez, in a statement

Prior to the event’s official postponement, Michael Harinen — the Chief Brand Officer for Bluebird Botanicals — said that he hoped Expo West would reschedule.

“Many companies have invested a hefty sum of cash for what will only be a shadow of what they were expecting,” Harinen said. “We’re lucky enough to have a healthy, established company but for some smaller startups, this could spell the end.”

The New Hope Network said organizers will announce a new date for the event in the coming weeks. “It is our intention to work with all our exhibitors and attendees on future credits and support, with particular focus on the many entrepreneurs and small businesses who are the heartbeat of this community, for whom we are going to stand up a rebate fund of $5 million targeted at their specific needs,” the company said.

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