If you are able to physically come to Canada, you should plan to visit or, even better, exhibit at a Canadian trade show. This would be one of the best ways to meet potential buyers and to guage the market by conducting some market research in terms of what products or services are offered on the market and how to position your products in relation to the competition.
Canada is generally not a major country for trade shows of international caliber, especially if you have been to trade shows in Germany for instance or in the United States. However, Canada is internationally known for its (Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada) PDAC show for the minerals exploration industry which takes place, usually in March of each year, in Toronto. There are some smaller but nevertheless important shows taking place each year that specialize in a number of sectors. In the food and beverage industry for instance, the major shows are:
- Salon international de l’alimentation (SIAL) – manufactured/processed foods and equipment;
- Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) – fresh produce;
- Grocery Innovations Canada – fresh and manufactured/processed foods;
- Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) – specialty, health foods;
- Canadian Coffee and Tea Show.
You can visit the following sites to get more complete information on trade trade shows:
- ‘Events in America’ – eventsinamerica.com (includes Canada);
- ‘EventsEye’ – eventseye.com (world);
- ‘Trade Show News Network’ – tsnn.com (world, most complete).
Below is a list of the largest trade shows in Canada.
Trade shows are known to be generally expensive in terms of equipment, furnishings and technical requirements. Avoid making on-site decisions because your costs will go up dramatically. It is therefore important for your company to have a dedicated team who monitors this entire process. To give you an example, look at the difference in booth rental prices for SIAL 2017 in Toronto. Therefore, a 10’ X 10’ (100-sq. ft) booth would cost you 2975 CAD$ before November 2016 compared to 3400 CAD$ after November 2016. A 100-sq. ft. booth would be the smallest booth size available for single companies to select.
Take a good note that if you want to bring to a trade show food and plant products, your product should comply with regulatory requirements, given that food and horticultural products are subject to rigid import controls in Canada. Please consult the CFIA website for more information. Also, use the Automatic Import Reference System (AIRS) to check the requirements for your product. Therefore, plan the sending of samples in advance!