The California Food Expo connected 130 California-based food and beverage companies with over 650 pre-qualified local, national and international food buyers at its inaugural food industry trade event. Educational sessions were well-attended as diverse industry topics were tackled and the Expo’s expanded award platform touted products that reaffirm California’s role as a food leader and innovator. The first-ever “Taste of California” Chefs’ Competition held during Expolicious, the public event, featured delectable treats created by well-known chefs from San Francisco to Los Angeles using Expo food and beverage products.
The Expo, hosted Sept. 9 and 10 in Fresno, highlighted California’s long-held position as America’s number-one agricultural producing state, with over 400 commodities accounting for more than $50 billion in output. Additionally, over 5,500 food manufacturing facilities operate in California, double the number of any other state. Statistics like these give the Expo a solid platform for expanding the state’s relationships with national and international food buyers, ensuring continued industry growth.
“We are always looking for new ways to reach potential customers. The exposure at the California Food Expo is good; it brings out a different clientele of buyers,” said Kyle Beth, Foodservice Regional Sales Manager for Foster Farms. “It is important to be present at a show like this to meet new customers and our peers throughout California.
Among the top buyers attending this year’s Expo were: Albertsons Vons Pavilions, Bristol Farms, Whole Foods Market; Grocery Outlet; Smart & Final; Rancho San Miguel Markets; and Walmart, among others. Complementing the local and national domestic buyers were qualified international buyers from Latin America and Southeast Asia, in addition to export trading firms.
The New Product Awards featured two distinct categories: the Buyer’s Choice Award and Consumer’s Choice Awards. The Buyer’s Choice Awards were judged by the Expo’s Retail Advisory Council, a diverse group of retail buyers representing a range of categories and store formats.
The 2019 Buyer’s Choice Award first place winner was Setton Farms Garlic Onion seasoned kernels; second place went to HMC Farms SpongeBob and PAW Patrol grape packs; and third place was True Gold Honey Discovery Flight.
The Consumer’s Choice Award was judged by the Expo’s Consumer Panel, which mirrors California’s demographics for gender, ethnicity, age, income and education. The 2019 Consumer’s Choice Award first place winner was Pappy’s Foods Buffalo Sweet and Spicy Sauce; second place went to Gillum Family Farms Smoked Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage; and third place was Busseto Foods California Snackin’ 3 oz. Personal Serving.During Expolicious, the Expo’s public event, over 1,200 attendees were able to sample new creations from six premier California chefs utilizing featured products on the show floor. Food writer, cook and Food Network TV personality, Simon Majumdar, was back for the fourth year and hosted the “Taste of California” Chefs’ Competition, where each of the featured California-inspired bites competed for three awards