FRESNO, Calif. — The county seat of California’s No. 1 agricultural county is set to host the first Fresno Food Expo on March 11.

“The Fresno County food industry has been the workhorse,” said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin at a Dec. 6 news conference. “We have fed the world for generations. It’s time that Fresno takes its place on the world stage.”

Fresno Food Expo planned

Don Schrack

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announces the Fresno Food Expo at a Dec. 6 news conference. The food expo will be held March 11.

As many as 75 central San Joaquin Valley grower-shippers, manufacturers and processors will be selected to feature their products to market chain and foodservice buyers at the 2011 expo, she said. The city officials and an advisory committee that includes several fresh produce figures are looking beyond next year, however.

“We are laying the foundation for what will begin as a regional event, but I’m convinced it will soon become an annual state and then a national event,” Swearengin said.

Bill Smittcamp, president and chief executive officer of Wawona Frozen Foods Inc. Clovis, said the food expo is designed to take advantage of the retail trade’s desire to see the face of the growers behind the food products.

“We are embracing the fact that we are the food basket of the world,” he said. “We till the soil, we do the hard work and we in the county’s ag industry generate more than $5.3 billion.”

The city officials have already begun soliciting the attendance of buyers of fresh produce and processed foods.

“Costco has committed and confirmed the attendance of a senior buying team,” Swearengin said.

In addition to the exhibits, California State University-Fresno’s Jordan College of Agricultural Science and Technology will put on display the research the school is undertaking “to keep the region the leader in food innovation and technology,” Swearengin said.

The Western Collegiate Food Marketing competition will take place in conjunction with the expo, she said.

Buyers may register for the expo at