Agriculture · Food

Valley-favorite Fresno Food Expo set for return – under a new name

The popular, once shuttered, Fresno Food Expo is back with a new name. 

The Fresno Food Expo was first established in 2011, aiming to showcase homegrown Central Valley offerings to national food industry retailers and buyers. 

In 2018, the event changed its name to the California Food Expo, but by 2020 the board dissolved the expo due to financial and organizational constraints just as the coronavirus pandemic set-in. 

Two years after the dissolution, the event has been resurrected as “MADE Central California.”

The expo was announced Wednesday by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and will be held on Aug. 31 and Sep. 1 at the Fresno Convention Center. 

“Since the Food Expo ended in 2019, there has been an outpouring of community support to bring this event back,” said Amy Fuentes, Fresno Chamber of Commerce COO, in a statement. 

“But truth be told, it’s the people and the companies that make up our region’s thriving food industry that our community has been asking for, and I am thrilled that the mission of MADE Central California and the Chamber align in a way that makes sense for our organization to carry this mission forward in a format that is more inclusive, innovative and focused on connecting our region’s thriving food industry.” 

For the public’s eye, the highlight of the event will be the public event located for a three hour period in the evening on Sep. 1, which has been rebranded as TASTE Central California. 

That event gives MADE sponsors – the Valley’s food and beverage companies – the opportunity to directly engage with local consumers. 

Other returning highlights include roundtable discussions between food and beverage companies with retail and foodservice buyers and networking opportunities. 

However, just as the expo has been rebranded, MADE Central California will add its own new flavor to the event. 

That includes an industry “speed dating” event that is designed to facilitate new connections between exhibitors and suppliers. 

Also, a new award show for the event that is inspired by “Shark Tank” will be locally broadcast on KSEE 24 and offer a cash prize for the top two winners. 

“We are excited for the opportunity to take a new approach in bringing this event back because there are so many unique and innovative things happening in the food industry right now, much of which is happening right here in our own backyard,” said Rebecca Sustaita, MADE Central California manager, in a statement. 

“We plan to put a spotlight on ag tech, and not only highlight what is being made here, but how it’s being made.” 

Returning exhibitors include Tioga Sequoia Brewing, Rosa Brothers Milk Company, Wawona Frozen Foods, Busseto Foods, Valley Lahvosh Baking Company, California Natural Color, True Gold Honey, Wild Game Jerky, Ampersand Ice Cream, Vacaville Fruit Co. Inc., Jalen’s Bakery, Mininger Foods, Inc., Crazy Go Nuts, Dog’s Dig Em and Baloian Farms.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.