Ag Expos – An Industry Staple

The agricultural industry is a leader in self-promotion, boasting hundreds of national and international trade shows to bolster business.

Trade shows benefit the farming community in many ways. In addition to increasing name recognition and sales, they also forecast industry trends, introduce new products and services and provide business-to-business education and networking opportunities.

Ag exhibitions draw crowds of thousands in cities throughout the world all year long. These events can be so vast that large-scale media companies are sometimes hired to implement their planning and execution.

The 2008 World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., covered 2.6 million square feet, drawing in 67 exhibitors and making a $1.2 billion economical impact.

The shows vary in size, scope and audience, ranging from regional to national to international and also differ from segment focused – the Exponut & Dried Fruit Show for example – to broad, as is the Midwest Ag Expo. Shows are either open to the public or are classified as “trade only,” indicating admission to industry members only.

In 2006, the International Show Of Agriculture, the industry’s largest trade show, brought 600,000 visitors to Paris, France. The 17th International Agriculture Exhibition, Agritech ’09, will be hosted in Bangalore, India, in December and is promising to surpass record ag-show attendance records.

This segment of the industry is so lucrative that at least one company specializes in arranging visitor travel and attendance logistics of agriculture-specific expos. AgriTours US is a premier tour-service provider, specializing in offering “personalized, high-quality, responsibly-priced tour service for agriculturally oriented travelers.”

A list of 2009 ag-related trade shows can be located at AgriTours US’ Web site. Additional agriculture shows can be found at

Ag exhibitors can include suppliers of fertilizers and chemicals; storage, machinery and equipment companies; seed providers; storage and packing plants; food manufacturers and distributors; business consultants; government entities and banks and insurance representatives among others.

At these events, companies have the opportunity to introduce their products or services and can further educate consumers. This can be done with product sampling and demonstrations. They can also interact with industry affiliates to gauge competition or form business relationships.

Farmers, ranchers and industry members should be selective when opting to exhibit at trade shows. Exhibit fees, travel expenses and time away from day-to-day business priorities can be costly.

If industry members opt to attend a trade show, there are some suggestions worth following:

1. Be selective: Attend shows that make sense for your company in terms of geography, scope and price. If your company has a small budget for communication efforts, it makes more sense to attend a few, low-cost shows throughout the year that deal specifically with your product or service, rather than spending your entire budget on one extensive show with a pricy entry fee with hundreds of vendors that may overshadow your company. If your product or service is available only in one state or region, national and international shows may not be effective.

2. Have a versatile exhibit space: It is wise to create a display space that can be easily modified with detachable and attachable panels to tailor messaging based on the show. This saves money in the long run because an entire new board does not need to be created. Rather, it only needs amended.

3. Provide interaction: Exhibit booths with mere signage and brochures are boring. Visitors are more likely to stop by a display if it involves a free product give-a-way or product demo.

4. Set measurable goals: Aim for a specific number of client contacts or visitors to your booth; calculate completed surveys or the number of times a product or service was demonstrated.

Trade shows have proven to be very beneficial to today’s agriculture industry. As further advancements and technologies are realized throughout all industry segments, their potential as a business mechanism will only intensify.

Can other industries be as successful as the agriculture industry is in the expo realm? Do trade shows put farmers/ranchers/producers at a disadvantage by not attending? Have you attended or ever plan to attend an agriculture trade show?

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