More than 1,700 Buyers and Public Turn Out to Connect with Local Food Producers from the Undisputed Food Capital of the World @FresnoFoodExpo

Fresno, California – March 14, 2013 – The 3rdAnnual Fresno Food Expo, presented by Union Bank, held on March 14, 2013, was a huge success featuring 106 food and beverage producers from the 8-county San Joaquin Valley and marked the debut of 55 new innovative products and packaging concepts. These Valley-based food and beverage producers gained exposure and made connections with 643 pre-qualified regional, national and international foodservice and retail buyers, restaurant chefs and institutions. These record breaking numbers at the 2013 Fresno Food Expo reflect a 65% growth in number of participating exhibitors and a 370% growth in buyers since the first show in 2011. Key buyers from large retail outlets such as Trader Joe’s and Sam’s Club attended the Expo for the first time in 2013, as well as 25 international buyers from Canada, Pacific Rim, Mexico and Colombia as part of the first organized buying mission put together by California Centers for International Trade Development (CITD) tied to a regional food show.

The opportunity to host international buying missions at the Fresno Food Expo added to the already wide range of buyers who attended the show and provided even greater opportunities for economic growth in the San Joaquin Valley. With 95% of the World’s consumers outside the United States’ borders, Valley food producers have an opportunity to potentially increase their annual sales by 30-50% through exporting according to export sales numbers tracked by CITD clients over a seven year period.

The range of buyers – local, national and international – all contribute to the economic growth of the San Joaquin Valley and provide a substantial level of trickle-down effect. On a larger scale, the national and international buyers attending the Fresno Food Expo are making large volume purchases that increase the intensity of that trickle-down effect – from expanded production capabilities; to job creation to meet those expanded production needs; to increased demand for ingredients, packaging and brand marketing, expanded infrastructure necessary to support increased volume and delivery systems needed to move the product. Additionally, more than 1,000 consumers attended the Expo to see, taste and discover food products and in turn, drive demand for these local products.

“Since 2011, we have seen the quality and range of buyers attending the Fresno Food Expo increase significantly. This year’s Expo attracted buyers with more purchasing power, creating increased opportunities for business deals with exhibitors and in turn economic growth for our region. Additionally, our new San Joaquin Valley New Product Awards provided a platform to showcase the innovation of our food production industry on a national scale,” said Mayor Ashley Swearengin, City of Fresno. “Our ultimate goal is to create increased commerce for our Valley-based food producing companies. Through the expanded buyer attendance and public event, we’re building brand recognition and driving consumers to seek out local product on grocery store shelves. We can say with confidence that we are meeting the goal of the Fresno Food Expo, and we will continually work to build upon that.”

The Inaugural San Joaquin Valley New Product Awards presented by Baker, Peterson & Franklin CPA, LLP, marked the debut of 55 new products from 32 different San Joaquin Valley-based companies that were introduced to the marketplace between March 9, 2012 and March 14, 2013. Products entered range from Phillip Farms Finger Limes, Gerawan Farming’s Prima Peach Consumer Packaging and Vintage Cheese Company’s Beer Battered Cheese Curds to ENZO Basil-Infused Organic EVOO, Sayula Gourmet Hot Peanut Sauce and everything in between – all highlighting the rich diversity of food and beverage products the San Joaquin Valley has to offer. These inaugural awards provided an opportunity for Fresno Food Expo exhibitors to enter their new food product, varietal or packaging concept for an opportunity to compete for the “Fresno Food Expo Industry Award” and the “Fresno Food Expo People’s Choice Award.”

Cold House Vodka’s Cake Batter Vodka and Bella Viva Orchards Pure & Natural Dried Fruit Slices were both awarded the “Industry Award” after a tie was determined by a celebrity judge panel comprised of world renowned chef, restaurateur and hotelier Erna Kubin-Clanin, owner of 5-star restaurant Erna’s Elderberry House and Château du Sureau; Don Prince, Senior Merchant of Fresh Overseeing Service Deli Category Management for Save Mart Supermarkets; and Don Schrack, food and beverage industry expert, and recently retired journalist for the fresh produce industry’s premiere trade publication, The Packer. For the “Fresno Food Expo’s People’s Choice Award,” the consumers spoke loud and clear logging 5,415 votes during a 3-week period via Facebook, Fresno Food Expo website and in-person at the Expo for. Rosa Brother Milk Company’s Glass Bottled Milk was announced as the winner of the “People’s Choice” Award having received 1,243 votes.

The novelty of an exclusively regional food show highlighting the undisputed food capital of the word has afforded the Fresno Food Expo national and international attention within the food buying industry. Solely showcasing food producing companies locally-owned and headquartered within California’s 8-county San Joaquin Valley, the Fresno Food Expo provides buyers the unique experience to not only see the breadth of food producers in the region, but have the opportunity to go on facilities tours – seeing the actual farms, dairies, manufacturing or packaging facilities. This point will be further supported with the date change of the 2014 Fresno Food Expo to July 24, which will further showcase an expanded variety of fresh commodities from large to small growers, established cooperatives and ethnic produce grown in the San Joaquin Valley. This shift will open a new category of buyers – both nationally and internationally – attending the show, creating new business opportunities and growth for the region’s economy. The San Joaquin Valley is home to more than 2,500 fresh produce growers and packers accounting for an economic impact of $105.81 billion in 2011.

“Our product is ideal for exporting because of sulfur limits and the fact that our product is all-natural dried fruit, so we do not have any additives,” said Brean Bettencourt, BellaViva Orchards. “We currently export to Asia, but today we were able to meet eight new buyers from there and we’re looking forward to the increased export opportunities.”

From small start-ups to the large, well-established companies, the Fresno Food Expo provides a platform for these Valley-based food producers to network, share industry relationships, create new business contacts and increase their exposure to broaden sales opportunities. The 2013 Fresno Food Expo proved to be a success by providing a platform for new business connections – both within the buying community and the industry itself. From the Fresno Food Expo, the overall number of local San Joaquin Valley-based exhibitors expanded from 66 in 2011 to 106 this year and featured an outstanding 55 new products debuted. The overall number of buyers that attended has more than tripled since 2011 from 175 to 643, and represented newly expanded buying sectors including the new international component. Lastly, the attendance for the public portion has grown tremendously, from 350 attendees in the 2011 to 1,084 this year; creating an increased number of food enthusiasts who will set out to look for and purchase local product showcased at the Expo. The totality of all these components represents the success of this initiative developed by the City of Fresno to support the valuable food production industry in the Valley.

“This year’s Fresno Food Expo was incredible for us,” said Debi Franklin, Deb’s Gourmet. “We connected with buyers from Sam’s Club and Save Mart Supermarkets, as well as reconnected with Ovations Catering and they are interested in using our new product beginning April 2013.”

Major Sponsors:

  • Baker, Peterson & Franklin, CPA, LLP
  • Busseto Foods
  • California Centers for International Trade Development
  • California Raisin Marketing Board
  • Certified Meat Products
  • City of Fresno
  • Cuties by Fowler Packing
  • Gerawan Farming Prima Brand
  • Johanson Transportation Service
  • KMJ Newstalk 580
  • Lyons
  • State Center Community College District  
  • Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company  
  • Union Bank  
  • Valley Lahvosh Baking Company
  • Van-G Logistics  
  • Wawona Frozen Foods
  • Wawona Packing Company
  • Wells Fargo