Under pressure from exhibitors and attendees, the organizers of the Boston seafood show on Tuesday canceled next week's show and are now planning on rescheduling the event.

Intrafish called the show's hotel booking site at 11:40 a.m. Tuesday and received the following message: "Thank you for calling OnPeak, the official hosting partner for seafood expo. We are aware of seafood expo's recent announcement that 2020 event is postponed. As this was just announced, we're working on next steps and working with our hotel partners, guests and Seafood North America to make sure all needs are attended to."

Roughly one hour later, show organizers confirmed the postponement in a statement.

"After many weeks of monitoring the evolving situation around COVID-19 and evaluating the full spectrum of feedback we received among hundreds of calls and emails, we, Diversified Communications, have decided that the 40th edition of Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America will not take place as scheduled in March and is postponed while we look at other options," the organizers said.

"We are committed to finding a solution to deliver an event in North America, this year, to ensure business continuity to the seafood industry. Details on when and where will be communicated directly with our customers in the next month. Depending on date and location availability, the event might look slightly different for 2020 but will continue to provide the opportunities to connect suppliers and buyers in the industry," show organizers said.

Diversified said it remains on-track to host Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global in April in Brussels, Belgium.

It said it will be offering the choice of rolling over exhibit space payment to the future 2020 event or to the March 2021 event in Boston.

Drop outs

Over the past week, companies have been pulling out of the event over concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

US retail giants Kroger and Costco canceled their participation in the seafood show, joining a growing list of major buyers and suppliers choosing not to attend the event over concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Retailer Whole Foods was planning to have a reduced team at the show this year. The company issued travel restrictions on employees, requiring that they curtail any non-essential business travel, according to an internal email obtained by IntraFish.

Seattle-based Peter Pan Seafoods also confirmed with IntraFish Monday afternoon that it had dropped out of the event. Six people in Washington state, where Peter Pan is based, have died from the virus.

In addition, Minnesota-based Morey's Seafood International confirmed it will not be exhibiting, and a team from its parent company Rich Products will also not attend. In February, Rich Products acquired Morey's. Rich Products supplies SeaPak, one of the largest and most prominent frozen seafood brands in US supermarkets.

Another food-related trade show has fallen victim to the coronavirus. New Hope Network, which operates Natural Products Expo West 2020, scheduled for March 4-8 in Anaheim, California, on Monday officially postponed the event. The group intends to announce a rescheduled date, set for sometime “before the summer,” for the event.

Los Angeles-based seafood supplier H&N Group withdrew from exhibiting at the show this week, citing that the current conditions surrounding the coronavirus outbreak present the company "too much risk."

"The health and safety of our team, partners and colleagues are our top priority," the company said in a letter to customers and suppliers.

Florida-based Sea Delight Group announced on its LinkedIn page Monday, that it too was foregoing the show. "We simply cannot take any chances with the health of our valued employees, customers and supply partners from around the world," the company posted.

Last week, organizers of the Seafood Expo North America event in Boston sent an update to attendees and exhibitors detailing further efforts to reduce the threat of the coronavirus at the show, the most draconian of which is to follow a "No-contact, no-handshake policy."

This comes amid an increase in coronavirus cases outside of China, which has killed 2,700 people worldwide. (Copyright)