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Fresno Food Expo set to showcase San Joaquin Valley July 24

The San Joaquin Valley is buzzing with activity as one of the world's biggest produce supplying regions picks, packs and ships fruits and vegetables around the globe. The San Joaquin Valley represents over 69 percent of the commodities in California and is home to seven of California's top 10 agricultural producing counties.

The Fresno Food Expo is also buzzing with activity to showcase the vast variety of produce and other food products coming out of its fertile soils and minds. FFE---PM-Public-Event-038Last year's Fresno Food Expo attracted its largest attendance ever. The Expo has grown every year since its inception in 2011. This year's Expo will have over 200 exhibitors from throughout the San Joaquin Valley.The expo will be held Thursday, July 24 at the Fresno Convention Center in downtown Fresno.

"The first mission of the Fresno Food Expo was to create a greater awareness of the finished and value-added products found in the San Joaquin Valley — many of which are made possible because of their closeness to fresh," said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. "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-added 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."

Often referred to as the breadbasket of the world, the San Joaquin Valley grows, manufactures and distributes enough food to feed over one-third of the nation. The region has branded itself as an ideal place to find innovative products and leading-edge packaging. The region's proximity to fresh products and access to markets around the world has not only made this region one of the most productive places for growing and processing food and beverage products, but it has become a powerhouse for innovation in the food industry.

Several of the largest produce shippers in the industry will be on hand with field fresh fruits and vegetables on display, including show sponsors Fowler Packing, Gerawan Farming and Wawona Packing. A complete list of exhibitors is available at the expo website.

The Fresno Food Expo kicked off its New Product Showcase last month, presented by Baker Peterson Franklin CPA LLP. Voting for the new product award is being tallied at www.fresnofoodexpo.com and the Fresno Food Expo Facebook page.

Last year, public voting on the Fresno Food Expo website and Facebook page captured more than 5,000 votes during the three-week voting period -- eventually Bella Viva Orchards Pure & Natural Dried Fruit Slices were awarded the "Industry Award," renamed this year as the Buyer's Choice Award.

"The Fresno Food Expo provided an opportunity to build an awareness of our products in the San Joaquin Valley, helping to drive consumer demand, as well as connect us with new buyers who didn't have us on their radar," said Brean Bettencourt of Bella Viva Orchards.

Baloian Farms Squash Saute Kits, Bella Viva Orchards Pure & Natural Dried Apple Slices, Flicks Candy Company Milk & Dark Chocolate Covered Pistachios, Sunrise Fresh Dark Sweet Dried Cherries, and Wawona Frozen Foods Organic Day Break Cups advanced to the Buyer's Choice Awards. A celebrity judging panel — comprised of industry experts, including world-renowned chef Erna Kubin-Clanin, owner of five-star Erna's Elderberry House and Chateau du Sureau; Whole Foods "local sourcing guru" Harvinder Singh; and Matt Jones, an influential buyer from Kroger — will judge the finalists during the Fresno Food Expo on July 24.