Business & Economy
8:52 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Food expo showcases local goods to buyers

Hundreds of people sampled local eats today at the second annual Fresno Food Expo including everything from flavored olive oil, chillipepper infused beer and a peach flavored sparkling wine served at the Oscars.

Nearly 400 buyers and distributors attended the event at the Fresno Convention Center and around 80 exhibitors showed off local products.

Craig Scharton, the City of Fresno's director of Downtown Community Revitalization, said that the show is a positive force for the economy.

"Everyone knows about the agriculture but what they don't know and realize is how many great companies we have that turn agricultural production into products that end up on menus and store shelves."

The event was originally conceived by Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin in order to show the diversity of products produced in the Valley.

Buyers liked what they saw at the show and Mark Ford, president of J and D Food Service in Fresno, said the he came because his customers are after locally grown food.

"These are the Valley's best and we're finding not only relationships that we already do have and we are reinforcing those but we are finding relationships that we don't have. We look at it from our customers point of view. Would our customer want this product in our warehouse and distribute it."

Companies outside the Valley said the event has peaked their interest.

"We are keying into support local producers and would rather source our products locally."

That was Karima Elghiyati , from Paramount Export in Oakland.

Attendees, like Karen Clifton, said that were surprised by the popularity of Valley products outside of the Valley.

"We just chatted with somebody that did champagne and they did a whole week worth at the Oscars event. So it's really exciting to see that vendors locally are broadening outside of Fresno but are still located here."

The event opens to the public tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. with tickets at the door for 45 dollars.