Citing growing uncertainty about COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, IGA has postponed its annual IGA Global Rally, which had been scheduled for March 9-11 in Nashville.
“We will look for an alternate date as soon as is reasonable to reschedule,” said IGA CEO John Ross.
The gathering of independent retailers and food distributors, described as “part main stage presentation and part interactive learning experience,” had scheduled workshops, seminars and an innovation exhibition.
IGA had expected about 350 attendees this year, which was less than usual because the alliance’s Chinese contingent had already canceled plans to attend, citing the coronavirus crisis there, a spokeswoman said.
Ross in a statement said “safety has to be our main concern,” citing figures this week from the World Health Organization raising its mortality rate estimate for the virus by more than 50%.
“I know this will place many hardships on our brands, retailers, [licensed distribution centers] and, of course, the IGA team. And it will certainly delay sharing the incredible content we had designed for this year’s event,” Ross said. “But given the uncertain status of the virus, consumer confusion and unknown impact on our retailers, I have decided to err on the side of caution. Right now it may be more important for our store leadership to be on the ground in their local markets, serving shopper needs and running their stores.”