(Oct. 5) LOS ANGELES — Chili peppers, avocados, tamale kits and cactus pears were among the produce commodities featured during Expo Comida Latina, the Hispanic food and beverage show Oct. 3-5.

The third annual event at the Los Angeles Convention Center hosted 4,000 visitors and more than 350 exhibitors, said Lee Corkhill, marketing manager for the expo.

Besides hundreds of booths, the expo featured conference programs, culinary demonstrations and a keynote address by Phil Lempert, "The Supermarket Guru," food trends editor and correspondent for "The Today Show" and frequent contributor to broadcast and cable TV programs.

Several produce companies participated.

"A large part of that has to do with the fact that most (of Hispanics' ) meals are still prepared from scratch, which necessitates buying and using a lot of produce," Corkhill said.

Similar shows with different programs are scheduled for the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York Oct. 26-27 and for the first time in San Antonio in 2005. Information is available at www.expo-comida-latina.com

Produce-oriented companies that participated in the Los Angeles expo included: Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Ana; Califresh of California LLC, Sanger; House Foods America Corp., Garden Grove; Interfresh Inc., Fullerton; Santa Maura Spice & Garlic Co., Los Angeles; Tavilla Sales Co. of Los Angeles; World Variety Produce Inc., Los Angeles; and J R Simplot Co., Boise, Idaho.

World Variety took advantage of the expo to tout its tamale kit, Salsa Casera (the company's new tomatillo-based salsa), fresh chili peppers and its bilingual labeling on dried chilies.

Interfresh showed off its AvoFresh Hass avocado pulp. Tavilla's display included its full line of chili peppers, mangoes, guava and fresh limes, and Calavo used the event not only to show visitors its avocado products but to promote its recently acquired Maui Fresh line.