The Fresno Food Expo will be held on one day this year, and will be open to exhibitors from across California. Photo by David Castellon
Written by David Castellon
This year’s Fresno Food Expo will be different than those of previous years.
For one thing, the annual event for growers and food processors to display their goods to representatives from grocery stores and other retailers will occur only one day — July 26 — instead of the usual two at the Fresno Convention Center.
And this year’s group of exhibitors will include exhibitors beyond the eight Valley counties, as organizers have opened it for the first time to businesses across California.
“Our board made this decision to welcome all California food and beverage companies a few months ago,” said Amy Fuentes, manager of the Expo, which issued emails today announcing the change.
Previously, exhibitors had to be headquartered in the Valley, though some exceptions were made for those based outside the Valley but had large production facilities here, she said.
The event is intended to allow food makers to put their products in front of attending buyers who could get those goods into stores, restaurants, school cafeterias and other places in the Valley, across the country or even overseas.
And the food and beverage makers looking to make those connections range from the small — able to supply just two or three Costcos or other stores — to operations big enough to supply every Costco, Fuentes said.
By expanding the scope of potential exhibitors, organizers hope to expand participation, not only of exhibitors but also of the various retail buyers, Fuentes said.
But that may not happen this year — at least not by much.
“We just made the announcement last week and haven’t done much marketing this year” about opening the geography of the expo, Fuentes said.
“Our expectation is not to have a huge impact this year, however we are pleasantly surprised to see some new companies register,” among them Firestone Walker and BarrelHouse, both craft beer breweries from Paso Robles; Taco Works, a San Luis Obispo tortilla chip maker; and Marich Pancrafted Chocolates out of Hollister, Fuentes said.
With more publicity about the expo changes occurring after this year’s event, she estimated the number of exhibitors — which has averaged about 150 a year — could experience a significant upward shift over the next three to five years.
And opening Fresno Food Expo to food makers across the state will trigger another change ± a new name for the event.
“We plan to unveil a new brand and show name at the Food Expo this year,” said Fuentes, who didn’t disclose the new name.
As for the expo going on only one day this year, she noted that in the past the first day was only for sponsors to have the first shots to meet with exhibitors and sample their foods and drinks, with most of the second day open to buyers followed in the evening by Expolicious, in which the public could buy tickets to sample the food items.
Fuentes said expo organizers put on hosted events for sponsors in the months ahead of the event at the convention center, making it unnecessary to have one July 25.
As for the 26th, the daytime expo for buyers will go on, as usual, this year, as will Expolicious, tickets for which will go on sale June 4.
To find out more about the Fresno Food Expo, as well as to sign up as a buyer or exhibitor, go online to fresnofoodexpo.com.