Fresno, California – July 26, 2018…The California Food Expo has officially emerged. Formerly known as the Fresno Food Expo, the name change and brand unveil of the California Food Expo kicked off a new era for the nation’s largest geographically focused food industry tradeshow. Over 135 exhibitors from the state’s finest food and beverage growers and manufacturers touted their high-quality products to more than 650 pre-qualified regional, national and international buyers, connecting and creating worldwide commerce.
“Our production value in both fresh and manufactured products, our innovation and our diversity make California a food powerhouse,” said Amy Fuentes, Manager, California Food Expo. “The Expo’s vision to incorporate all of California enables us to harness the state’s thriving food industry and connect buyers to authentic California brands.”
The California Food Expo brand reveal followed the keynote address by Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Karen Ross who reinforced the state’s impact on the national and international foodscape, while delivering a vision for sustained growth.
“California is the nation’s top agricultural producing state, accounting for $46 billion in output from over 400 different commodities,” said Ross. “The state is also home to more than 5,500 food manufacturing facilities, twice the amount of any other state in the nation. These astounding numbers give the California Food Expo an incredible platform to fortify California relationships and continue to expand the industry into the future.”
Top buyers attending this year’s Expo included: Bristol Farms, Whole Foods, Grocery Outlet, Smart & Final, Walmart and more. Complementing the domestic buyers were qualified international buyers from India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and international export trading firms.
“Discovering and carrying quality California products remains a high priority for our store,” said Randy Ducummon, Vice President for Whole Foods Market, Northern California & Reno. “Having the California Food Expo include food and beverage products from throughout the state provides a unique and incredibly valuable opportunity for us to connect with California brands, while also sourcing new store offerings.”
The 2018 New Product Awards showcased innovative food and beverage products, providing an elevated platform for participating exhibitors to tout a new product or packaging concept. Entries ranged from a berry-infused tortilla to a Hazy IPA and a sun-dried plum BBQ sauce. Judging for the New Product Awards was conducted by members of the new California Retail Advisory Committee including appointees from: Albertsons and VONS, Southern California; Albertsons and Safeway, Northern California; Bristol Farms; Erewhon Markets; Whole Foods Market, Northern California and Reno; and Walmart, in addition to special guest, the Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert. The 2018 first place winner was ENZO’s Table Peach Jam; second place was a tie between Ampersand Ice Cream Honey Blueberry Ice Cream and Producers Dairy Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream; and third place was 51 Fifty Passion Fruit Orange Guava Energy Drink.
“Our Peach Jam showcases the beauty of California - when a farmer from Clovis can connect with an award winning Chef in Los Angeles like Jessica Koslow from Sqirl - it’s an incredibly humbling feeling,” said Vincent Ricchuiti, Founder, ENZO Olive Oil. “Receiving this award provides an elevated exposure that will help us to drive demand for this product, which will be exclusively sold through our retail and online store.”
New in 2018, the Consumer’s Choice Award provided an expanded opportunity for participating exhibitors to showcase their flagship products. The first round of voting, done online by the public, resulted in over 6,000 votes. The Official Consumer Panel selected the final winner, which were in first place La Tapatia BBQ Tortilla Chips; second place Taco Works Tortilla Chips; and third Bobby Salazar’s Guacamole Salsa.
The Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award, open to any exhibiting California food or beverage company, was presented to a company that is a pioneer in innovation, a steward in their community, has a risk-taking mindset, extraordinary passion for California’s food industry and demonstrates outstanding leadership. Applications were reviewed by a panel of food industry judges, including Fred Ruiz. The 2018 recipient of this prized award was Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company.
During Expolicious, the Expo’s public event, over 1,200 attendees were able to sample new bites created by 11 Central California restaurateurs and celebrity chefs utilizing only products featured on the show floor. Food writer, cook and Food Network TV personality Simon Majumdar was back for the third year to taste and judge the creations; his selected winners for this year were Best Taste, Max’s Bistro & Bar for their Sweet Corn Chilled Chowder; Best Presentation, Ampersand Ice Cream for their Rummy Plummy, Oakey Smokey Peach and Almond Amaretto taster plate; Best Use of Local Products, Bella Luna for their Strawberry Watermelon Cooler and Harris Ranch “Short Rib” Slider, which also won Consumers Choice.
“Fresno is the logical location for a world-class food expo, and the expansion and shift to the California Food Expo is the first step on a path to further showcase all regions of California and the incredible food and beverage companies that reside in the Golden State,” said Bill Smittcamp, President, Wawona Frozen Foods. “We’re proud of the Expo’s history and roots in Central California, and we expect continued growth in the diversity and range of products in each coming year along with the quality of retail and foodservice buyers.”
About the California Food Expo
The California Food Expo launched in 2011 by the City of Fresno in an effort to connect the region’s food industry companies to new retail and foodservice customers, and put a spotlight on the thriving and diverse food industry in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Since then, the Expo has transitioned to a 501c-6 governed by a 13-member Board of Directors made up of Presidents and CEOs from some of California’s largest and most productive food companies. The Expo’s prime function is to connect California food and beverage companies to retailers and foodservice buyers actively seeking California brands and who make it a priority to locally source products.
Leading the Nation
The California Food Expo harnesses the power of the largest fresh and finished food-producing state in the nation – creating a dynamic, diverse and exclusively-California food tradeshow. The Expo showcases California’s $71.24 billion total food industry – $46.04 billion total agricultural production and $25.20 billion total food processing value. California produces over 400 commodities and tops the nation in agricultural production values (Iowa is second with $27.82 billion). California has twice as many food manufacturing plants compared to any other state (5,531 plants vs. closest competitor New York with 2,508). For more information on the California Food Expo, visit www.CaliforniaFoodExpo.com