28 September 2021 – The 35th edition of SPACE was held from 14 to 16 September 2021, in Rennes, France. After two years without a physical edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this edition attracted 1,118 exhibitors, including 323 international exhibitors, welcomed 74,772 visitors, including 4,629 international ones.
SPACE 2021 claims to be the first and only worldwide trade show this year for all animal industries. But the return of SPACE mainly symbolises the resumption of activity in the events sector for the animal nutrition world, which was very pleased to reconnect with clients and partners in-person.
In a nutshell, animal nutrition sector business morale is high.
Companies have all realised that the COVID-19 state of the world is here to stay but, with international travelling progressively resuming and global vaccination underway (albeit unequal in different parts of the world) their post-summer break outlook is an overall positive one.
Reflecting on the past year or so, most companies were quick to say how responsive and adaptive the animal nutrition sector was on the whole. Business continuity was on everyone’s minds as was adjusting to a more virtual environment.
“Apart from HORECA, the feed and food sectors were extremely resilient, even in the heart of the 2020 crisis. Upstream adapted. Production lines evolved and volumes were there,” said Frank Chmitelin, Executive Vice President Sales, Marketing and Customer Success at Adisseo.
“2020 was a very good year. The animal nutrition sector did not really feel the impact of the economic crisis. I think 2021 will be an even better year,” added Emmanuel Bedier, Commercial Director at IDENA.
“The industry kept going and was resilient during the crisis, and the fundamentals of growth remain in place. We operate in a secure sector which has good future prospects no matter what crises come and hit us. On the contrary the crisis has reinforced our primary needs,” went on to say Jean-Luc Mousset, President of Techna Group.
Jefo’s President, Jean Fontaine, painted an even brighter picture: “The industry was able to adapt quickly. I’m not worried about the future because science, research and technology are evolving so fast.”
So, it seems that the animal nutrition sector never lost its momentum and is in good shape compared to other industries. It is also clear that animal nutrition companies adapted well and learned to live with COVID-19. Businesses grew. It was more people’s state of minds that were impacted.
As Olivier Clech, Nor-Feed’s Co-CEO, pointed out: “The crisis has been an opportunity to make mentalities evolve quicker. It has been a time of self-questioning. And this kind of evolution is good for growth. We remain optimistic but cautious at the same time. We have to be capable of living with the virus and organising ourselves knowing that it will be a permanent factor.”
Guillaume Etave, Global Sales Director at NUQO, added: “Signs of improvement are here. SPACE 2021 was another one of those signs. Businesses will have realised that this situation is here to last but we are more in a phase of serenity and positivity.”
COVID-19 hasn’t hit the global economy as bad as some predicted. But the pandemic has changed how we do business in general.
“We learned a lot in 2020/2021 and moved online a lot more. If ever lockdowns persist and situations worsen, we are in a better position today to anticipate and react. Moving online was a big change, but we adapted and even opened up to other regions. This has helped us develop a positive vision for customer relationships and new product development,” said Caroline Biard, Technical Manager at Phosphea, speaking about her company and the sector in general.
Danièle Marzin, Marketing Director at Olmix, nodded: “It’s also an opportunity to revisit how customer relations can be carried out. The digital training and knowledge gathered internally over the past year and a half is being passed on to the customers themselves.”
“What the remote working and virtual environment has shown us is that we are much more straight-to-the-point in our dealings. This is applicable internally but also throughout the industry. Moving forward we will always adapt whatever happens and will always look at opportunities,” added Manuel Maire, General Manager France & Northern Europe at ADM Animal Nutrition.
“Travelling is coming back progressively and we will be working more towards a hybrid model with a lot more remote work,” also said Nicholas Guthier, Vice President Europe & Global Key Accounts, Evonik Nutrition & Care. But he did stress that there is certainly a bigger need today for more face to face as interactions with customers are slower in the virtual environment.
“We’re expecting a lot for the return to in-person opportunities and events,” confirmed Phosphea’s Caroline Biard.
The general consensus is that animal nutrition firms are optimistic for the year ahead but do nonetheless remain cautious.
Nor-Feed’s Olivier Clech pointed out: “Some countries are still faced with strict lockdowns and economic difficulties. Generally speaking, Asia didn’t manage the crisis as well as other regions.”
“A word of caution for some regions where vaccination is still low and where there are still lockdowns in place and economies/supply chains are affected, mainly Southeast Asia,” agreed Adisseo’s Frank Chmitelin, adding that 2021 will on the whole be a good year and more of the same can be expected in 2022.
“But we remain cautiously optimistic because of the ongoing supply chain issues,” he warned.
Or as Techna Group’s Jean-Luc Mousset highlighted: “We’re optimistic for the future but that doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels.”