Fresno Food Expo to Boost International Participation

Nov 19, 2012 No Comments by

FRESNO, CA – The 2013 Fresno Food Expo season was kicked off at the Valley Lahvosh Baking Company in downtown Fresno Friday morning, with the third edition of the Expo on March 14 of next year set to greatly increase the number of international buyers.

The first Fresno Food Expo was held in 2011, and it quickly became a success, with 65 company exhibitors getting their products in front of 175 buyers, allowing them to make business dealings and eventually generate jobs.  The second Expo, held earlier this year, brought together 85 new companies and 430 buyers from across the United States and a few from around the world, all sampling what San Joaquin Valley manufacturers produce.  New businesses and products are launched during the Fresno Food Expo.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said that even though the first Fresno Food Expo was held just last year, the impact on local businesses has been tremendous.

“We saw businesses that launched for the first time at the Fresno Food Expo,” Swearengin said.  “These businesses today have expanded their regional presence, they’re manufacturing here in the Fresno area.”

The 2013 Fresno Food Expo is expected to have 110 local companies as exhibitors, as well as 550 buyers.  A new partnership between the Expo and the State Center Community College District California Centers for International Trade Development will help local food producers sell to more foreign markets.  The organization does business with buyers from across the globe, and will work with agricultural trade offices at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as embassies in Canada, Latin America and Asia to get them to attend the event.

“Our goal is to bring 25 international buyers from Mexico, Canada, and the Pacific Rim to the 2013 Fresno Food Expo,” said Dr. George Railey, vice chancellor for educational services and institutional effectiveness for SCCCD CITD.

Candy Hansen-Gage, director for the SCCCD CITD, said the Fresno Food Expo was invited to have its own pavilion at the CITD’s Taste of California Trade Show & Conference, which took place earlier this month in Oakland, Calif. earlier this month.

“They rose to the occasion and were the first city representative there, in a pavilion,” Hansen-Gage said.  “And so it was just a natural partnership where we bring in the incoming buyers for Fresno Food Expo.”

The Valley Lahvosh Baking Company in Fresno is one business that has found success in involvement in the Fresno Food Expo, garnering international attention for itself.  The company was founded in Fresno in 1922 by Gazair Saghatelian, a master Armenian baker.  Valley Lahvosh is known for producing its cracker breads and other bread varieties, including its pita bread, sold in the company’s retail store.  Valley Lahvosh experienced an expansion in 1985, and now employs 27 people.  95 percent of its business comes from outside the Fresno Region.

Valley Lahvosh was an exhibitor during the Expo’s first run.  It became a sponsor and member of the advisory panel for the second installment.

“Just in these first two years, the Fresno Food Expo has opened a variety of doors for many, many Valley producers,” said owner Agnes Saghatelian Wilson.

The Fresno Food Expo showcases food and beverages from across the entire San Joaquin Valley.  Space is limited to 110 exhibitors, and the deadline for registration is Feb. 15, 2013.  The registration form is available at  Buyer registration is free to all qualified retail, foodservice buyers, distributors, chefs and restaurateurs.  Those interested can register at



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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