Fresno Food Expo: Local Vendors Look For Exposure, Growth

Fresno's Food Expo tries to create new partnerships between local food producers and the marketing community.{}

The expo has a little bit of everything. Carrots fresh from the farm and ready to eat in a bag. How about a block of vintage cheese and all kinds of citrus?

Fowler Packing Company is one of the biggest grower-packers in Fresno County. The company{}has participated in all three{}shows.

"We want to get a little exposure. We're in the county. {} We're not visible to the public and in a moment like this we can actually put our name out there and show people what we're doing,"said Bill Haskell of Fowler Packing Company.

One of the most unique pieces of produce on display at the expo is the finger lime.{}

The finger lime is native to Australia and{}grower Doug Phillips says the{}juice can be found in the citrus pearls.{}

"When you cut it there's no juice that comes out. {} It's all locked inside there little beads or vesicles that encapsulate the juice," Phillips said, adding that there may be a market for finger limes in ice cream.

Several{}boutique wineries{}offered taste tests at the expo.

Bret Engelmann of Engelmann{}Cellars said Thursday{}China came calling.

"There are a lot of exporters here," he said. "A lot of people interested in bringing our wines to China, the rest of it which as small producers is hard because when they export they like to move 2,000 cases at a time. Most of our wineries aren't that big yet."

But Engelmann says as many as five wineries could meet China's needs and it's something worth talking about.

Abel Arellano, one of the vendors at the expo, is meeting the niche market for gourmet hot sauces.

He sells a Mexican Hot Peanut sauce that comes in mild, medium and hot.{}{}

"It's{}to use on top of the food or you can use it to marinate it in chicken, pork, beef, anything," Arellano said.

Participating vendors{}saw their sales climb by as much as 35 percent, according to reports from the City of Fresno.

Next year, the Fresno Food Expo will be moved to July to showcase the Central Valley's peak growing season.