Fresno Food Expo registration is open

FRESNO, California

Now going on its four year, the expo will be held on July 24, 2014.

The show is traditionally held in March, but organizers say the later date will allow for more growers and packers to take part in the expo. They July date is closer to harvest and will allow more local businesses to show case the best of their crops and products.

The expo puts local growers, packers, and food companies under the same roof as the buyers and consumers.

"It's been a great success for companies that have participated," said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. "In fact, 75 percent of them say they've seen an increase in sales directly because of their participation in the food expo."

More than two-thirds of vendors that took part in the 2013 food expo are returning, according to organizers. Nearly 140 local exhibitors as well as 700 pre-registered, qualified buyers are expected to attend. In 2011, there were 65 exhibitors and about 200 buyers.

Major retailers attending the show have been Costco, Save Mart Supermarkets, Whole Foods and many more.

Trader Joe's and Kroger are expected to attend for the first time this year.

Nicole Schott of Rosa Brothers Milk Company in Hanford said the Fresno Food Expo helped them grow faster than they could have, had they not participated. Rosa Brothers sells natural glass bottled milk and ice cream.

Rosa Brothers opened in 2012 and had only been open for five months when they participated in last year's Fresno Food Expo.

"We had wanted to get some exposure," Schott said.

Their product won an award at the expo and that helped them get more publicity than they thought.

Schott says before the award, they were in talks with Save Mart and Vons, and taking part in the expo helped them get their products on their shelves.

"We're now in Save Mart and Vons between Fresno and Bakersfield," Schott said, "we're now in over 80 locations total between independents and the two larger chains."

Since the expo, Schott says their production and profits have nearly doubled. Their staff has grown from about 10 employees to nearly 20.

Fresno business leaders would like to hear more stories like that.

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