VIV Europe Hotline, 22 April : “What a weird and unreal experience this has been, to be held hostage by a volcano!” The remark comes from Paul Vanderhaeghe, at the VIV Europe exhibition in the Netherlands this week on behalf of equipment company Roxell, as European air travel was disrupted by a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

“When talking to people at the show, you sense that everyone has had the same feeling,” Mr Vanderhaeghe adds. “But you are also reminded of how vulnerable ‘international’ trade fairs can be. There have been shows in the past that could not go ahead because of an animal disease outbreak, and others affected because a terrorist attack somewhere had made people more reluctant to fly. Now it is the turn of a cloud of volcanic ash over the north of Europe. Who knows what will be next?

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“The real problem for the organisers of international exhibitions is that it is no longer necessary to travel in search of information. People can find the information they seek at exactly the moment they want it, only 30 centimetres away from them. I mean it is at the world’s most complete exhibition place ever - the worldwide web.

“Moreover, each continent, region, country or province has at least one show per year where manufacturers are represented directly or through their distributors. So, why would they travel to the other side of the world? For all of us who work internationally, as suppliers to the poultry and pig industries, it is an important question.”