Fresno Food Expo award submissions now open

The 2017 version of the Fresno Food Expo is set for July 26-27 at Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center. (Photo courtesy of Fresno Food Expo)

Award submissions for the 2017 Fresno Food Expo are underway.

Food and beverage innovators and entrepreneurs from throughout Central California are encouraged to submit applications for the fifth annual Fresno Food Expo New Product Awards, and the third annual Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award. Applications can be submitted at and the deadline for submission is Friday, June 30 at 5 p.m.

Designed to build buyer and consumer awareness, the New Product Awards serve as a strategic platform to launch new products and packaging concepts debuted at the Expo’s annual trade show, putting a spotlight on the innovation and collaboration happening in Central California, and helping exhibitors establish product placement in stores, restaurants and through foodservice distribution channels. With more than 160 new products launched since the program began in 2013, the Fresno Food Expo New Product Awards include two distinctive awards: the Buyer’s Choice Award and the People’s Choice Award.

New this year is the “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert, who will lead the Expo’s featured keynote speech on July 26. He will also serve on the celebrity judging panel for the Buyer’s Choice Award, along with Erna Kubin-Clanin, Owner, Erna’s Elderberry House and Chateau du Sureau, Sean Topping, Local Marketing Leader, Albertsons – Safeway, Northern California and Jim Jarosz, Division Manager, Landsberg Orora.

“The New Product Awards add a critical element to the Expo, highlighting the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that exists in Central California, and helps us tell the story about what makes our region truly unique,” David Nalchajian, General Manager of the Fresno Food Expo, said in a news release. “Since the inception of the Awards in 2013, participants have benefitted from invaluable marketing exposure, helping to launch and position their new products, increase company sales overall and have opened the door to domestic and international distribution.”

Last year Aubrey’s Jerky from SnackMaster’s took home first place for the Buyer’s Choice Award, followed by Tioga-Sequoia’s 99 Golden Ale in second place and Lanna Coffee Co.’s Cold Brew in third place. ARO Pistachio took home the People’s Choice Award with 1,003 out of 3,954 total votes for their Grower’s Reserve with Himalayan Pink Salt.

The Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award also recognizes innovation in business, honoring companies who have the same vision and qualities that took Ruiz Foods from a small, family start-up to the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the United States. The 2016 Entrepreneurial Award recipient was Lanna Coffee Co., a Fresno-based coffee company who sources its beans from Thailand to support economic stability in the villages where the beans are grown. After receiving this award and through connections made at the 2016 Expo, Lanna Coffee expanded distribution of their award-winning product, Cold Brew, through JD Food, a California regional foodservice distributor. A testament to the great relationships and opportunities made at the Expo, Lanna Coffee is also currently working on a special new product with 2013 People’s Choice Award Winner, Rosa Brothers Milk Company, that will be unveiled at this year’s Expo.

“It is our pleasure to recognize the hard work and dedicated spirit of entrepreneurs through this annual award,” Kim Ruiz Beck, Chairman of Ruiz Food Products, Inc., said in a statement. “As my father and grandfather demonstrated when they started Ruiz Foods in 1964, entrepreneurs are the foundation of America’s future – they are dreamers and innovators, hard workers and risk takers – providing jobs and opportunities for others.”

Food writer, cook and Food Network TV personality Simon Majumdar also returns this July to continue exploring the innovation, creativity and regional food movement taking place in our region.

“I said it last year when I was here and I will say it again, Central California is a hidden gem with a rising food scene that people absolutely need to take notice,” Majumdar stated. “The quality and array of products I discovered was incredible and the talent among chefs in the region is on par with San Francisco and Los Angeles. I am excited to return this year, connect with these companies to see how their products are doing and continue to be part of telling the story of the incredible food culture brewing in this vibrant region.”

The 2017 Fresno Food Expo will take place July 26-27. The agenda includes exhibitor-hosted site tours, Lempert’s keynote speech, followed by the Expo’s opening reception, Pairings, on July 26. The tradeshow portion will take place on Thursday, July 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by Expolicious, the Expo’s evening celebration from 5 to 8 p.m. Registration is currently open for buyers and exhibitors. More than 150 exhibitors and 950 key pre-qualified international and domestic buyers are expected to participate.

For more information on the Fresno Food Expo, visit

About Fresno Food Expo

Originally developed as an economic development initiative by the City of Fresno in 2011, the Expo has since emerged as the nation’s only exclusively regional food show bringing together growers, processors, manufacturers and industry service providers with buyers from around the world. Since its debut, the Expo has brought heightened awareness to the region’s food production industry as new, innovative businesses emerge and industry collaborations form as a direct result of the show. The Expo has introduced 305 different food and beverage companies to new customers and hosted 2,680 different qualified buyers, including over 100 strategically recruited international buyers. The Fresno Food Expo is a 501c6 nonprofit organization led by a 14-member Board of Directors, with current daily management services provided by David Nalchajian, Inc.