Food expo leaves bad taste in mouth with tasting ban

The Food Expo organizer has rejected a call to allow people to taste the delicacies on sale at this year's event - which starts next Thursday - citing public health concerns amid a rebound in Covid cases.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council is still expecting hundreds of thousands of visitors to attend the five-day event at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Sophia Chong Suk-fan, deputy executive director of HKTDC, yesterday said despite the no-tasting rule last year, sales were satisfactory.

"Despite not setting up the tasting area, visitors and exhibitors fully understand they are trying to do business," Chong said.

"The number of exhibitors participating in this year's Food Expo actually exceeds that of last year so the numbers speak for themselves, meaning that they still consider the Food Expo to be a very effective platform for selling and promoting their food brands and beverage brands," she added.

Unlike certain trade shows which are business to business only, public shows have far more visitors and so the council has to be responsible and ensure people's safety, she said.

Chong said the expo will employ staff to go around the area and see if anyone tries to taste food in the convention center, while the organizer will also have in place crowd-control measures to ensure the venue does not exceed 85 percent of its capacity.

She also believes the second phase of the consumption vouchers - to be disbursed on Sunday - and the opening of the new Exhibition Centre MTR station in May will help attract more people to the Expo.

Her comments come as Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, worried that the no-tasting rule would affect exhibitors' businesses and thus suggested the organizer set up a designated tasting area outside the fairground.

Some exhibitors participating this year said the no-tasting rule would affect their business.

HappyMama, which sells chicken pots and joins the expo for a second year, said it will use aromas and clucking sound effects to attract customers, with 10 HK$1 chicken pots sold a day during the five fair days.

Another vendor, Seoul Recipe, also said it would be better if there was food tasting as many of its products are frozen.

This year's Food Expo will be held along with Home Delights Expo, Beauty & Wellness Expo and Hong Kong International Tea Fair.

People can visit the four fairs for HK$25, or for HK$10 if they go before noon on August 11, 12 and 15, and after 6pm on August 11-14.

To visit the Food Expo Gourmet Zone, people can purchase a ticket for HK$40.

Children aged three and below and seniors aged 65 and above can visit free of charge.

Tickets are available via the Hong Kong Ticketing website, purchase hotline and the box office at HKCEC, and e-tickets can be purchased at convenience stores and via the Octopus app.