Top Food Industry Leaders Guide the Nation’s Only Exclusively Regional Food Show to Its Next Generation

Food Expo transitions from City-run event to industry-led initiative
to expand food production, July 27-28

FRESNO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A collaborative group of top food industry leaders in Central
California’s San Joaquin Valley came together to celebrate the formal
launch and open registration for the 2016 Fresno Food Expo that will
take place July 27-28, 2016. Now in its sixth year of operation, the
Expo has evolved into a standalone 501c6 nonprofit organization under
the newly announced oversight of a 13-member Board of Directors, with
current daily management services provided by David Nalchajian, Inc. The
announcement took place on Monday, March 14, 2016 at Fresno-based
Sunnyland Mills, a valued Expo exhibiting sponsor and America’s oldest
producer of premium Bulgur wheat.

Board members leading this charge have been involved in the Fresno Food
Expo since its inception serving in various advisory capacities
including Chairwoman of the Board and City of Fresno Mayor, Ashley
Swearengin; Vice Chairwoman of the Board, Agnes Saghatelian, President
of Valley Lahvosh Baking Company; Board Secretary, Vincent Ricchiuti,
Director of Operations for Enzo Olive Oil Company; Board Treasurer,
Denver Schutz, Technical Services Manager of Gerawan Farming; Mark Ford,
President of JD Food; Mike Grazier, President of Busseto Foods; Helen
Chavez-Hansen, Owner and President of La Tapatia Tortilleria, Inc.;
Jimmy Maxey, Chairman of Certified Meat Products; Chuck Nichols,
President of Nichols Farms; Rod Noll, Vice President of the Western
Region for US Cold Storage; Justin Parnagian, Sales Director for Fowler
Packing Company; Fred Ruiz, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Ruiz
Foods; and Bill Smittcamp, President & CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods.

Originally developed as an economic development initiative by the City
of Fresno in 2011, the Expo has since emerged as the nation’s only
exclusively regional food show bringing together growers, processors,
manufacturers and industry service providers with buyers from around the
world. Since its debut, the Expo has heightened the awareness of the
region’s food production industry and watched new, innovative businesses
emerge and new industry collaborations form as a direct result of the
show. It has introduced 226 different food and beverage companies to new
customers and hosted 1,825 different qualified buyers, including over
100 strategically recruited international buyers. With this impressive
track record, the 2016 Expo already has nearly 50% of the show floor
filled with returning exhibitors.

“Through the insight of these top food industry leaders over the past
five years, the Fresno Food Expo has brought the region together in
incredible ways not just as an agricultural community, but as a food
community,” said David Nalchajian, General Manager of the Fresno Food
Expo. “We are excited to build upon our success as a show and we look to
forward to further capitalizing on industry successes in every category
to increase awareness of our food production industry and celebrate its
quality, its diversity, its uniqueness, and its value on both a national
and international scale.”

Unlike any other trade show, the Fresno Food Expo offers the opportunity
for local, regional, national and international buyers to connect with
the actual Presidents and CEOs behind some of the nation’s largest food
industry companies with the invitation to explore products in every
category and learn from budding food entrepreneurs who migrate to the

“A third-generation, family-owned and operated business, we are the
oldest manufacturer of Bulgur wheat in the world and pride ourselves in
purchasing 90% of our raw materials from right here in the Valley,” said
Steve Orlando, President of Sunnyland Mills. “For our company, the
Fresno Food Expo provides an invaluable opportunity for networking, to
share ideas and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves as we
see businesses come together with one common goal of not just growing
their own company or sector, but the entire food production industry
throughout the region.”

Innovation stemming from Central California’s San Joaquin Valley will
continue to be celebrated through the New Product Awards presented by
Baker Peterson Franklin CPA, LLP, which has debuted over 125 new
products from Valley-based companies since the showcase began in 2013,
launching new trends and concepts. Last year’s New Product Award winners
Molucca Chocolate (People’s Choice Award Winner – Craft Chocolate Bars)
and Top O’ The Morn Farms (Buyer’s Choice Award Winner – Farmstead Sweet
Cream Butter) were also in attendance at Sunnyland Mills to help the
Fresno Food Expo Management and Board of Directors celebrate the launch
of this year’s effort and plans for growth into the future. Other past
products entered into the awards range from new packaging for fresh
fruits and vegetables to flavor-infused water, wines and craft beer.
Applications for the 2016 New Product Awards are available to interested
companies now and the deadline for submissions will be July 1, 2016.

Also returning to the Expo will be the Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award,
a legacy award that was created in 2015 to support the mission of the
Fresno Food Expo through mentorship and guidance from the founder behind
one of the largest food manufacturing companies in the region. Named in
honor of Fred Ruiz, founder of Ruiz Food Products, Inc. and now Fresno
Food Expo Board Member, this award honors companies who have the same
vision and qualities that took Ruiz Foods from a small, family start-up
to the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the United States. In
its inaugural year, Rosa Brothers Milk Company, also in attendance for
the announcement at Sunnyland Mills, was named the Fred Ruiz
Entrepreneurial Award winner following a remarkable 300% growth since
launching their glass bottled milk at the 2012 Fresno Food Expo.
Applications for the 2016 Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award are available
now and will be due July 1, 2016.

“Through our awards programs, mentorship, educational training and a
shared vision for the future for the thriving food industry that exists
here, the Expo is connecting companies big and small from different
sectors of the industry in an unprecedented way,” stated Fred Ruiz,
Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Ruiz Foods. “By acting as a resource
for the region’s food community, this collaborative initiative deepens
the celebration of food production and the personal experience food
inspires while promoting increased business growth, connectivity and
commerce for the overall region.”

The 2016 Fresno Food Expo will take place July 27-28, 2016 with site
tours and an opening reception for pre-registered buyers, followed by a
trade show. To commemorate the evolution of the Fresno Food Expo, a new
logo and website have also been introduced.

Registration is currently open for buyers and exhibitors. More than 150
exhibitors and 950 key pre-qualified international and domestic buyers
are expected to participate. Noted buyers already registered for the
2016 Fresno Food Expo include Whole Foods, Vallarta Supermarkets, Save
Mart Supermarkets, Food 4 Less, Tony’s Fine Foods, JD Food, Saladino’s
Foodservice and more. Registration forms and additional information is
available at
Exhibitors can take advantage of early bird discounts, a 40% savings
available until March 18, with public ticket sales to the “Epicurean
Evening” event filled with sampling and discovery launching in May.


Cohen Communications
Ashlee Wolf, 559-222-1322 / Cell: 559-916-5101
Griffin, 559-222-1322 / Cell: 559-967-3604