Exhibitors and trade buyers can match, source and sell coffee and tea via a new online trade show - Future Tea & Coffee Summit and Expo - from today till Friday.
As large-scale events such as trade fairs and exhibitions have not yet been allowed to resume, the organisers - regional conference organiser Conference & Exhibition Management Services (Cems) and online tea marketplace teapasar - have come up with a way to replicate the trade show experience.
Instead of just sending a message to exhibitors, buyers can have a video conference with them.
Sellers can upload photos and videos of their products for browsing online. There will also be webinars with various industry leaders.
The event uses ProfilePrint - a food ingredient scanner that uses artificial intelligence-based "food fingerprinting" technology - as buyers will not be able to touch or taste products.
It enables rapid authentication and analysis of the ingredient - right down to its molecular structure - to make up its "fingerprint".
ProfilePrint is the sister company of teapasar. The portable food scanner was launched last year at teapasar's Singapore Tea Festival.
ProfilePrint's founder and executive director Alan Lai, 41, says: "With a digital fingerprint, the seller cannot cheat buyers and give a good sample today, but eventually send sub-quality products. This will prevent a lot more disputes in the trade."
Those who do not require such detailed scientific analysis can filter their preferences through general categories such as acidity, roast, sweetness and body for coffee.
After the three-day event, a survey will be conducted among exhibitors to give an estimate of possible business transactions within six months to one year, as well as suggestions on how to improve the experience for the second edition of the expo, which is slated for November this year.
Mr Edward Liu, 72, group managing director of Cems, says: "We have to ensure that buyers and sellers are able to do real business through our platform.
"Once this trust has developed, this virtual trade show will be a very good alternative to a physical one.
"People are more used to a physical setting, so we can combine both physical and virtual platforms to create a hybrid setting.
"The virtual part reaches out to a wider audience and is complementary to a physical trade show."
• Future Tea & Coffee Summit and Expo runs from today to Friday, 10am to 6pm. For more information, go to: futureteacoffee.com
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