Fresno Food Expo Draws International Attention

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Local businesses hope the Fresno Food Expo is a launching point. (KFSN)

Local growers and producers are pitching their products to buyers from around the world.
On a sunny, hot July day, Katrina Van Conant showed us around her family's Clovis olive orchard, "You can see, these are clusters right here..." Harvest won't be until October or November so right now the olives are small and green: "They're babies, they're getting stronger," she explains. Despite the lack of water, she says it will be a good harvest because the trees are drought-tolerant.

As the co-founder of Scout Olive Oil, Van Conant is on a mission to provide the purest, freshest olive oil possible to consumers. "It's something that's newer to the California industry and we saw it as an opportunity. We think the olive oil industry is where the wine industry was in the 70's." Her family, the Harlans, would know. They've been farming the land since 1846. "We have a little micro climate here. We're close to the Sierras because of that, we get kinda perfect controlled, soil, climate. The olives love it here."

67 acres of olives are harvested by mechanical grape harvesters, then pressed and bottled in Dinuba... 5,000 gallons worth of premium olive oil. "The taste profile is really specific to where we grow," explains Van Conant. Scout Olive Oil is trying to attract buyers, chefs, and other movers and shakers of the food industry. "I couldn't be more thrilled. It really is a perfect place for us to launch."

Scout is vying for attention alongside 120 other up and coming growers, manufacturers and producers, from sriracha sun dried tomato ketchup to dog treats, from ice cream to gourmet cheeses.

Molucca Chocolate is among the top ten new products featured at the expo. Co-founder Radinal Latuconsina explained to visitors, "We make it from the bean to the bar using only two ingredients" Molucca imports cacao beans from exotic locales like Indonesia and Peru to create craft chocolate bars in Fresno. Visitors couldn't get enough. Latuconsina was thrilled with the response, "It's hard to believe but it's been nothing but positive. I mean, we are ecstatic to see the reaction of the customers, the buyers, the organizers."

Now in its 5th year, the Food Expo attracts 846 national and international buyers. Organizers say it's about creating opportunity for local businesses and reminding the world of the Central Valley's producing power. "People call us the breadbasket of the world. This is what it looks like. You have literally everything from fresh to finish. We are the only place in the nation that can do something like this, that can say, all of these foods are grown, manufactured here," said Food Expo Director Amy Fuentes.
Related Topics:
foodfresno food expobusinessentrepreneurship
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