Fresno Food Expo, Nation’s Largest Regional Food Show Opens Registration for July 24 Expo, Inclusion of 2,500+ Fresh Produce Growers and Packers in California’s San Joaquin Valley

FRESNO, Calif.--()--Amidst the vast warehouse of Fowler Packing’s busy production line of Halos branded mandarins, City of Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin flanked by members of the Fresno Food Expo Advisory Committee, Union Bank, export advisors and San Joaquin Valley-based food producers announced open registration for the 2014 Fresno Food Expo presented by Union Bank, which will be held on July 24, 2014. Successful exporting deals with Japan, new co-packing relationships and national retailer wins – along with the return of the popular Fresno Food Expo New Product Awards, presented by Baker, Peterson & Franklin were announced. The Fresno Food Expo is the largest regional food show in the nation – open exclusively to food and beverage companies located in the 8-county San Joaquin Valley.

The date shift from the show’s traditional time in March will provide greater inclusion of the 2,500+ fresh produce growers and packers in the San Joaquin Valley accounting for an economic impact of $113.4 billion in 2012 according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the San Joaquin Valley’s eight county Departments of Agriculture. The San Joaquin Valley represents over 69% of the commodities in California and is home to 7 of California’s top 10 Agricultural producing counties. From large to small growers, established cooperatives and ethnic produce grown in the San Joaquin Valley – the increased number of fresh food producers for the 2014 Fresno Food Expo will complement the vast array of quality finished and value-add products that fill the show floor.

Each year, exhibitor participation has steadily increased in every category, which speaks volumes to the value the Fresno Food Expo brings to both small and large food companies. Over 2/3 of exhibitors who participated in 2013 were returning exhibitors and of those returning, 75% have said their sales have increased by at least 15%, on average, as a direct result of their participation in the Fresno Food Expo. The move to July 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 first mission of the Fresno Food Expo was to create a greater awareness of the finished and value-add products found in the San Joaquin Valley – many of which are made possible because of their closeness to fresh,” said Mayor Ashley Swearengin, City of Fresno. “The 2014 Fresno Food Expo, now hosted in July, during the San Joaquin Valley’s prime growing season, will better bring together the full scope of the San Joaquin Valley’s vast food production industry – everything from fresh to finished and value-add will be all on display at the Expo and in bigger numbers. With increased participation comes more opportunity for the buyers, and the public, to connect with our region’s food and beverage producers, and continue to discover the vastness and value of our region’s food industry.”

The Fresno Food Expo was first launched in 2011 as part of the City of Fresno’s economic development strategy under Mayor Ashley Swearengin to find innovative ways to help local companies grow their business; specifically export oriented businesses that bring in new dollars to the Valley’s economy. Since the launch, buyer participation has increased by over 220% – with the 2013 Fresno Food Expo drawing in over 600 local, national and international buyers, 71% of which had the power to authorize purchases on the spot. Major retailers attending the show have been Costco, Save Mart Supermarkets, Whole Foods, Vallarta, Sam’s Club, Bristol Farms and Delaware North Companies – with Trader Joe’s and Kroger attending for the first time in 2013, along with international buyers from Canada, Pacific Rim, Mexico and Colombia, hosted by the Center for International Trade Development, State Center Community College District. “The number and quality of buyers has significantly increased in just the three years of the show and strategic efforts are being dedicated to ensure this trend continues for 2014’s Expo. With the date change and increased exhibitor participation, we are looking at our buyer numbers to grow by 15% in 2014,” stated Swearengin.

Leland Parnagian, with Fowler Packing Company in Fresno, CA, the third generation family-owned grower and packer of mandarins, table grapes and tree fruit under the Halos and SamSonS brands agrees. “A July Expo opens up a convenient opportunity for buyers to combine their traditional summer site tours with attending the Fresno Food Expo to experience what other new products and companies are out there,” said Parnagian. The Fresno Food Expo is more than just a trade show – it is a great platform for both buyer and industry connections that lead to new market opportunities, a perfect test market for new products, a showcase for food and packaging innovations and more.

For Gerawan Farming, the largest stone fruit grower in California and packer of Prima® Brand products in Fresno, CA, the Fresno Food Expo has provided an opportunity to “make new connections with companies within the industry and consumers, letting them know who Gerawan Farming is and what we do. Additionally, last year we were able to make some key connections with large buyers on a national, as well as international level,” said Denver Schutz, Technical Services Manager with Gerawan Farming. “Whether you’re a small start-up or a large company with national and international distribution like us – the Fresno Food Expo is a valuable show to be at. So if you are a food and beverage producer located anywhere from Kern County in the south to San Joaquin County in the north, sign up today and take advantage of this opportunity to make new business connections and build consumer awareness.”

The 2014 Fresno Food Expo will bring new opportunities for growth in both buyer and exhibitor participation with an anticipated 140 exhibitors and 700 pre-registered, qualified buyers attending. The public portion of the Fresno Food Expo is anticipated to welcome 1,200 attendees, which inspires the region’s community to engage with the local food industry with continued support throughout the year by purchasing local products at grocery stores and in restaurants. Buyers and exhibitors may pre-register for the 2014 Fresno Food Expo to be held on Thursday, July 24, 2014 by visiting www.FresnoFoodExpo.com. Qualified buyer registration is free. Exhibitors can take advantage of early bird discounts, a 40% savings, through February 15, with public ticket sales launching in the spring.

A platform to highlight innovative new products and trends in the food industry, the Fresno Food Expo New Product Awards, presented by Baker, Peterson & Franklin, has provided additional exposure to companies like Rosa Brothers Milk Company, Bella Viva Orchards and Valley Spirits, all 2013 winners. The Fresno Food Expo New Product Awards will return in 2014 with the category of “Buyers Choice.” Eligible companies must have a new food or beverage product or packaging that has or will be introduced to the market between March 15, 2013 and July 24, 2014 to participate. Applications are available at http://fresnofoodexpo.com/content/expo/new-product-awards.

“We are proud to support the Fresno Food Expo as it continues its mission to drive positive economic growth in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Julius Robinson, Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Union Bank, presenting sponsor of the Fresno Food Expo. “We would like to encourage all businesses who service the food production industry to become involved in the Expo. The Fresno Food Expo is helping to foster business connections that can help fuel economic growth in the region.”

Fresno Food Expo Provides Real Results for Exhibitors

Islamic Meat & Poultry Company in Stockton, CA, a first-year participant at the 2013 Expo, made a new exporter connection that led to a deal in July 2013 to export their kosher turkeys to Japan – a market they had never broken into. Bella Viva Orchards in Denair, CA, another first-year participant that produces all-natural dried fruit that has no additives, met eight new buyers from Asia. “We have been able to maximize those export opportunities and increase business in that region of the world,” said Brean Bettencourt with Bella Viva Orchards. “The Fresno Food Expo not only provided valuable connections with new foreign buyers, it also allowed us to establish relationships with fresh food producers in the San Joaquin Valley to source the high-quality fruit needed for additive-free dried fruit.”

Gluten-free cheese bread maker, P*de*Q who first launched the company at the 2011 Fresno Food Expo, has additionally been able to establish a critical industry connection that allowed the business to meet the growing demand by retailers. P*de*Q was approached by wholesale giant Costco to bring their product in-store, but could not meet demand at their current facility. Because of a co-packing relationship with Wawona Frozen Foods – a founding Fresno Food Expo exhibitor and member of the Advisory Committee – a strategic co-packing relationship was formed that allowed P*de*Q owner, Flavia Flores to meet the quantity demands of Costco, as well as the quality standards and regulations; her product will be on store shelves by late March 2014.

For Rosa Brothers Milk Company, a Hanford dairy that produces their own all-natural glass bottle milk and ice cream, the opportunity to interact with the consumers proved invaluable. The company, just in its sixth month of business at the 2013 Expo, participated in the Fresno Food Expo’s New Product Awards and walked away with the “People’s Choice Award” for their glass bottle milk. “The Fresno Food Expo provided a greater awareness of our products, driving consumer demand at existing retail outlets having a huge impact on our growth!” said Nicole Schott, Sales Department, Rosa Brothers Milk Company. “Winning the Fresno Food Expo’s ‘People’s Choice Award’ helped open up doors, including closing deals with Save Mart Supermarkets and Vons. We are now in 25 Save Mart and 14 Vons locations.”

The 2014 Fresno Food Expo is made possible in part by the support of the following well-known Valley businesses that have signed on as sponsors in support of the regional food show and its mission:

 

Major Sponsors:

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

CONNECT:
Website Home Page: www.FresnoFoodExpo.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/fresnofoodexpo
Twitter: Twitter.com/fresnofoodexpo

Contacts

Cohen Communications
Danielle Griffin, 559-967-3604
Debbie Nalchajian-Cohen, 559-222-1322
or
City of Fresno
Amy Fuentes, 559-790-3204

Release Summary

Registration open for largest regional food show in nation - Fresno Food Expo July 24. Inclusion of 2,500 fresh growers and packers, as well as food manufacturers in California's San Joaquin Valley.

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Contacts

Cohen Communications
Danielle Griffin, 559-967-3604
Debbie Nalchajian-Cohen, 559-222-1322
or
City of Fresno
Amy Fuentes, 559-790-3204