Fresno Food Expo file photo.
Written by Frank Lopez
A popular Fresno expo is coming back in a new way.
The Fresno Chamber of Commerce announced on Wednesday the dates for their new food industry trade show, MADE Central California, continuing the spirt of the Fresno Food Expo. The Fresno Food Expo was a popular showcase of local and state-wide food producers that ran until 2019.
The two-day event is set for later this year and will take place on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at the Fresno Convention Center.
The MADE Central California expo will feature a showcase for new products from California food producers, a 90-minute speed dating-type networking event for food and beverage producers to connect with local food service providers and suppliers, a pitch-product contest with a cash prize and a casual networking social with live music and drinks.
There will be nearly 150 exhibitors at the event, including local companies familiar at the Fresno Food Expo such as Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company, Wawona Frozen Goods, Ampersand Ice Cream, Busseto Foods and more.
Rebecca Sustaita is the special events manager for the Fresno Chamber, and manager of MADE Central California. Sustaita said after the closing of the Fresno Food Expo, the community expressed a lot of support in bringing such an event back.
Sustaita said Fresno Chamber COO Amy Fuentes has been spearheading MADE Central California, working to make it more inclusive to tap into all corners of the food industry. This year they will include non-food companies, such as ag tech companies in order to make connections between local food producers and local industry suppliers.
“We are staying true to the concept of getting our local food and beverage manufacturers to make business sales with [local] food service and retail buyers,” Sustaita said.
The “Pressure Cooker” pitch competition will be televised on K-SEE 24, and allows all exhibitors to participate. The 10 finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges in front of a live audience for a grand prize of $10,000.
Sustaita said that while the Fresno Food Expo was not connected to the Fresno Chamber, these type of events line up with their mission.
“In this new iteration, the Chamber’s mission to help local businesses really aligns with the mission of MADE Central California — to highlight our local companies, make connections and facilitate their growth,” Sustaita said.