Fresno Food Expo – Numbers Are Rising

Mar 15, 2013 No Comments by

FRESNO – The Fresno Food Expo has come a long way since its first run at The Grand in downtown Fresno just two years ago.

Back then, 65 local food companies had exhibits featuring their products, and last year that number jumped to 85 Valley-based food producers.  Registered buyers have also increased, with 175 attending the inaugural event and 435 doing business last year.  The third edition was held Thursday at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center, and it boasted 106 San Joaquin Valley-based food producers and more than 550 buyers.  Perhaps most impressive is 25 international buyers, from areas like China, Mexico and Canada, were on hand doing business, compared to just two last year.

Attendance for next year looks even more promising for the already flourishing Expo.



“We could likely grow by half or double when we incorporate fresh,” said Craig Scharton, business development director for the City of Fresno.

Scharton mentioned that tortillas, Armenian cracker bread, micro brewed beer, wines and meats were showcased alongside the agricultural products that are a staple of the San Joaquin Valley.  A big focus this year is on innovation, and 30 of the companies stepped up with 50 new products, many hoping to attract some of those international buyers.

“We want them to see the breadth of what we do,” Scharton said.  “When everyone thinks of the San Joaquin Valley you automatically think agriculture, but we want them to know that there’s some great food products here as well, finished products.”

Mark Ford, president of J&D Food Service, understands the value of the Fresno Food Expo, and his company has been involved in the event since its inception.  J&D is a broad line distributor, and represents restaurants, schools, prisons, retail stores and hospitals.  The company buys from 135-140 vendors nationwide.

“The reality is that people want to buy from local sources,” Ford said.  “Whenever we can, we find local sourcing and provide the customers what they want.”

Pablo Orozco, is a partner/manager with Raizana Teas, a first-time exhibitor.  Its teas have health and wellness properties, and are delicious as well.  He and his wife, Sol Orozco, came with the goal of adding to its base of local distributors for products.  It’s already working:  as of yesterday afternoon, three meetings with international buyers in Latin America were lined up, and two buyers from Hong Kong were interested as well.

“For the exposure that you get, the turnout is great,” Orozco said.  “You get a lot of media exposure.”

Orozco also mentioned that the other Valley producers also pass on valuable advice among themselves.

The next Fresno Food Expo is scheduled for July 24, 2014.

Agriculture, Headlines

About the author

James Olinger is a native of the San Joaquin Valley. He graduated from West Hills College in Coalinga, California in 2000 with an associate's degree in liberal arts. He joined Business Street in 2004 as a staff writer, and became the associate editor in 2007. He maintains that position today, writing for Business Street Online in a variety of topics.
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