The Champion Raisins booth featured Raisels, flavor-infused raisins. Image via California Food Expo

published on July 27, 2018 - 11:26 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The Fresno Food Expo — now known as the California Food Expo — wrapped up its eighth run Thursday evening at the Convention Center.

More than 135 exhibitors attended the event to show off for more than 650 pre-qualified local, national and international buyers. The new name reflects an effort to draw exhibitors from beyond eight Central Valley counties.

“Our production value in both fresh and manufactured products, our innovation and our diversity make California a food powerhouse,” said Amy Fuentes, manager of the 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.”

Buyers at this year’s expo included Bristol Farms, Whole foods, Grocery Outlet, Smart & Final and Wal-Mart. There were also international buyers from as far away as India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The California Food Expo also handed out its slate of awards. The 2018 New Product Awards went to Enzo’s Table Peach Jam at first; Ampersand Honey Blueberry Ice Cream and Producers Dairy Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Creak got second; and 51 Fitfy Passion Fruit Orange Guava Drink took third.

For the Consumer’s Choice Award, done online by the public, first place went to La Tapatia BBQ Tortilla chips; second place to Taco Works Tortilla Chips and third to Bobby Salazar’s Guacamole Salsa.

The Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award went to Tioga Sequoia Brewing Co.

The public portion of the event — called Expolicious — drew more than 1,200 attendees to sample food from 11 Central California restaurants. Food Network TV personality Simon Majumdar returned for his third expo to judge each of the dishes. His “Best Taste” winner went to Max’s Bistro & Bar’s Sweet Corn Chilled Chowder. “Best Presentation” went to Ampersand Ice Cream for its Rummy Plummy, Oakey Smokey Peach and Almond Amaretto taster plate. “Best Use of Local Products went to Bella Luna in Merced for its Strawberry Watermelon Cooler and Harris Ranch Short Rib Slider.

The 2019 California Food Expo will be held on July 24-25. Exhibitor reservation can be made at http://bit.ly/FFERegister

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