“We’ve seen a high level of senior international buyers visiting and reports are already coming from exhibitors who have secured orders and contracts”

Business leaders from across southern Africa converged on Johannesburg yesterday as two of Africa’s biggest trade shows opened for the first day.

Thousands of participants attended the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg for SAITEX 2016 and its co-located show Africa’s Big Seven.

SAITEX is the biggest event in Africa with almost 600 exhibitors from 26 countries attracting buyers from around the world. The second expo is Africa’s Big Seven, the largest food and beverage event on the continent.

The first event of the day at SAITEX was a business breakfast organised by the Progressive Business Forum (PBF), which has 5,000 members across the country.

Attendance exceeded the original 300 people and more tables had to be brought in to cater for demand.

International buyers and the trade that takes place at SAITEX was a key focus for the introductory speaker Councillor Ruby Mathang, the MMC of Johannesburg City Council’s Department of Development.

“Business transactions are not one-sided and SAITEX has made a significant contribution to South African exports into previously untapped products,” he said. “We have seen South African companies competing pound for pound against multi-nationals.”

And after the ribbon cutting in Hall 4, marking the official opening of SAITEX 2016, the day got underway.

SAITEX, which is Africa’s biggest show for retailers to discover new products from around the world, has a record number of exhibitors this year and Africa’s Big Seven has 300.

Christine Davidson, Vice President of dmg-ems Africa, the organiser of the shows, said: “This has been a successful first day. We’ve seen a high level of senior international buyers and reports are already coming from exhibitors who have secured orders and contracts.”

Last night exhibitors spoke of their business successes following a successful first day.

“We had the most amazing first day and met fabulous visitors from all over Africa - they were really important buyers,” said Michelle, Biz Box & Makebane Foods, South Africa.

“Africa’s Big Seven is absolutely awesome,” said Mariska Smit, Brand Manager, 7 Star Energy Drink, South Africa. “And I am enjoying it full time. And I am definitely seeing you again next year.”

“It is day one of this three-day event and so far it has been already very valuable for our business,” said Cliffy Muthusamy, Sales & Marketing Manager, Huhtamaki, based in South Africa, overseen by its Finnish HQ.

“Africa’s big Seven has exceeded our expectations,” Nairupa Ramerasad, Business Development Manager, Virtual Logistics. “It has given us maximum exposure and we have already met more than 200 interested people that want to know more about our business. The amount of business leads we are taking away from here is brilliant.”

Day 2 commences at SAITEX with a second business breakfast conference with speakers including Councillor Parks Tau, the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg.

And Africa’s Big Seven will welcome ambassadors who will meet their exhibitors from Botswana, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tapei, Chile and Poland today.

For more details on either show see www.saitexafrica.com and www.africabig7.com