Interview with Birgit Horn on VNU Group’s Agrifood Portfolio

We are a global platform for the industry to network, connect, present innovations, learn and make business. Our goal is to provide the entire industry value chain from seed to food and beyond with valuable business opportunities.”

In 2023, VNU Group introduced the Horti Agri Next (HAN) concept for the first time in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It was the first launch edition of a new event covering products, innovations, advancements and content on the horticulture and agriculture industries. Together with VIV MEA 2023, the two events gave us a “peak” of VNU’s plans for the future. Birgit Horn, Managing Director of the Agrifood Portfolio at VNU Europe, explains what the company’s plans for the industry are, and what to expect in the coming years.

Q: You took over, as Managing Director Agrifood at VNU Europe, a little over a year ago. What are your first impressions and learnings?

BH: Joining VNU Europe as Managing Director Agrifood has been an amazing experience so far. The existing team was already well established and has proven to be exceptionally skilled and dedicated, successfully managing and running worldwide shows. Upon closer inspection, we identified gaps in our portfolio that presented exciting opportunities for growth and innovation. Our focus now is on addressing these gaps to enhance the value we bring to our audience and stakeholders.

Q: Can you walk us through a brief overview of VNU Group’s Agrifood Portfolio and its significance to the global market?

BH: VNU Group’s Agrifood Portfolio is a comprehensive collection of events focusing in agriculture, including the renowned VIV Worldwide and newly launched HAN events among others. We organize flagship shows in regions of crucial importance to the industry such as Europe (Utrecht), Middle East (Abu Dhabi), Asia (Bangkok) and Africa (Kigali). As our flagship shows run bi-annually, we make sure to serve the industry and our audience, in the years in between with satellite national events that are compact versions of the flagship shows, such as VIV Select Türkiye, VIV Select China, Han Select Vietnam, etc or more niche events, dedicated to specific sectors such as Health & Nutrition Asia.  These platforms play a crucial role in connecting global stakeholders within the agricultural industry. The significance lies in our ability to provide a diverse and inclusive platform that addresses the evolving needs of the global market, from animal health and welfare to sustainability in production and alternative proteins, to new technologies and the latest trends.

Q: VNU Group is taking a global strategy approach when it comes to VIV and HAN Worldwide events. What are the key drivers for this international approach?

BH: The international approach to VIV and HAN Worldwide events stems from our commitment to promoting global collaboration and addressing the challenges of the agrifood industry. This is also where AgriBITs comes into play, as it refers to the entire value chain, and the digitalization and AI solutions that are available. By bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise from different continents, regions and markets, we create a platform ideal for business dealing, discussions and solutions. This global strategy in connection with the very close contact we hold with national and international market and thought leaders ensures that our events are at the forefront of industry trends, innovations, and best practices.

Q: VIV Worldwide has evolved tremendously since the first VIV event in the Netherlands. How does it address the diverse needs of the animal protein industry?

BH: The evolution of VIV Worldwide has been nothing short of remarkable since the inaugural event in the Netherlands. In addressing the diverse needs of the animal protein industry, our commitment is exemplified through a multifaceted approach. Naturally, we recognize that Animal health and welfare stand as a rapidly growing topic and a major concern within the industry. This vital aspect has become one of the largest sectors prominently featured in our shows.

Our events always delve into industry standards, sustainability practices, and the latest trends in food production. This holistic approach, ensures that VIV Worldwide remains a comprehensive business to business platform that not only keeps pace with industry advancements but also places a significant focus on the crucial elements of animal well-being and the sustainability of the animal protein sector. All aiming at serving the globally growing food demand incorporating the latest sustainability goals.


Q: What is the vision and the goals behind the launch of Horti Agri Next? What comes next?

BH: The vision behind the launch of Horti Agri Next is to create a platform that showcases the best of horticulture and agriculture, promoting modern techniques, trends and innovation across both sectors. Moving forward, we aim to expand our reach with HAN Asia (starting in 2025, co-located with VIV Asia) and HAN SELECT (in Vietnam in 2024 and Indonesia in 2025), as well as creating a presence at events like VIV Africa with the dedicated HAN Pavilion. Sustainability remains a key focus, with initiatives aimed at promoting eco-friendly practices, addressing urban and climatic challenges and driving positive change throughout the industry and again – meeting the growing food demand in the world.

Q: You mentioned a completely new concept earlier: the AgriBITs Summit, on digitalization in the agrifood industry. What are the objectives behind this project? What will this event bring to the Agrifood sector?

BH: The AgriBITs Summit (5-6 September in Utrecht NL, 2024) aims to explore and accelerate the digitalization of the agrifood industry. Our objectives include bringing together key players, experts, and innovators to share insights, discuss challenges, and envision the future of digitalization in agriculture. This event, will contribute in showcasing future-fit solutions for the entire agrifood industry, including arable, indoor and livestock farming, as well as feed and food processing. AgriBITS will stand as a base for collaboration, presenting technological advancements to enable technology suppliers to meet future demands from farmers and growers in increasing profitability in their operations.


Q: There are a lot of discussions currently on sustainability in the Agrifood Industry. Are there any initiatives being taken from your side in this regard?

BH: Sustainability is a top priority for VNU Group and for Jaarbeurs as a whole. We have initiated related content programs within our events, featuring key experts and partners who are actively championing sustainable practices. By providing a platform for these discussions and initiatives, we aim to contribute to the global effort in creating a more sustainable and resilient agrifood industry. Of course in practice, we also try to reduce our own CO2 footprint, whether that is arranging collective shuttles for our events, reducing paper use when it comes to promotional documents, or even by more and more using eco-friendly and renewable materials in stand construction.

Q: VNU Group has a presence in different continents right now. Are there any upcoming markets or regions of focus?

BH: While we continue to strengthen our presence in existing markets, we are actively exploring opportunities in emerging regions that show significant potential for growth. Our strategic focus includes identifying markets where our expertise can make a substantial impact, and where our exhibitors and visitors want us to be. VNU Europe stands for a personal approach and taking the customers opinions as a basis for our decisions.


Q: Finally, what do you think lies behind the success of the current events and what gives you confidence on the company’s future plans?       

BH: The success of the VNU events is rooted in our ability to adapt to the industry’s needs, collaborate very closely with key stakeholders and industry drivers, and consistently aim to deliver highest value to our participants. We are confident in our future plans because they are grounded in innovation, inclusivity, and a commitment to addressing the evolving needs of the agrifood industry. With a dedicated team, strategic vision, and a pulse on industry dynamics, we believe we are well-positioned for continued success and growth.

For media inquiries and further information, please contact:

Lida Kokkini – Senior Marketing Manager VNU Europe

About VNU Group | VNU Group is a globally operating exhibition company with offices in Utrecht (VNU Europe), Shanghai (VNU Asia), and Bangkok (VNU Asia Pacific). VNU Group is part of the Royal Dutch Jaarbeurs and represents its international exhibition business outside of the Netherlands. Each VNU office runs a portfolio of exhibition and conference brands with professional expertise on specific markets and industries. The Agri-food exhibition portfolio is a core business in all three VNU regional offices. Other VNU Group main event sectors include Tech, Lifestyle, Construction, Lifesciences and Biotech, and more.

About VNU Europe | VNU Europe is a subsidiary company of Royal Dutch Jaarbeurs with its base in Utrecht, at the heart of the Netherlands and only 30 minutes from Amsterdam. The VNU Europe office is located within the extensive Jaarbeurs complex. The international team of VNU Europe is wholly involved in the agrifood sector focusing on the organization of worldwide industry events such as VIV and Horti Agri Next. For more information, visit