Soup To Nutz

For the past 48 years, April has been Earth Month ever since April 22 was deemed “Earth Day” in 1970. That year Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin who had just witnessed the remains of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA, decided that he wanted to do something to make the Earth a better place to live. The first Earth Day had rare bi-partisan support and it ultimately led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, a couple of which have been under attack lately. Forty eight years later, we are still a work in progress, looking for ways to be kinder to our planet. Decomposable “plastic” bags made from plants thereby reducing the trash that litters our oceans is the latest trend. What is your company doing to reduce toxins in our water and food? All of Mother Earth’s living creatures, including us humans, are depending on it.

In honor of Earth Day, Weis Markets announced how its sustainability efforts helped to minimize the company’s environmental impact in 2017. As a result of its sustainability program, the company has decreased its carbon emissions by more than 20 percent since 2008 according to its new report, “Weis Sustainability 2017: Together we make a difference.” The report highlights Weis Markets’ award-winning sustainability programs, which incorporate innovative energy-saving measures designed to lower energy consumption, increase recycling activities and reduce refrigerant emissions. While Weis Markets’ emissions have been reduced year over year since 2008, there was a slight emissions increase of 1.7 percent as a result of the company acquiring 44 new stores, which expanded its footprint by more than 25 percent in 2016. The company retrofitted new stores with as many sustainability features as possible as they were converted to Weis Markets locations and continues to expand its sustainability programs in all stores. “We remain committed to serving as a strong steward of the environment, and to the continuous improvement of our sustainability program,” said Jonathan Weis, chief executive officer for Weis Markets. “We will continue to increase our sustainability efforts throughout our growing footprint, and as we find new ways to reduce our environmental impact we will further expand our role as a leader in retail sustainability and as a responsible corporate citizen in the communities we serve.” Key sustainability achievements for 2017 include:  increasing paper and cardboard recycling by more than 10 percent over the previous year, being recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill program, which encourages reduced refrigerant usage to help lower the overall environmental impact on the ozone layer and climate change, and reduced the environmental impact of the company’s distribution system by expanding its fleet of energy-efficient vehicles by 50 percent.

On the same day, Giant/Martin’s announced that it is making it easier for customers to reduce their carbon footprint by launching a transparent and industry-leading reduced emissions program at all 98 of its fuel stations in partnership with GreenPrint. Giant/Martin’s fuel customers don’t have to change their habits or sign up for anything. When customers fill-up, GreenPrint will then neutralize their emissions up to 30 percent by investing in certified carbon offset projects such as creating local greenscapes or tree plantings.  “We believe it is our responsibility to make a positive difference in the environment because it is the right thing to do, and we think the GreenPrint model is innovative, and frankly, pretty cool,” said Manuel Haro, Giant/Martin’s vice president, strategy. “We see this as a game-changing program where we can directly address climate change as it is harmful to the local food system. Our ultimate goal is to be part of the solution that allows us to feed and bring families together for many years to come.” Beginning May 15, for every gallon of gasoline a customer pumps at Giant/Martin’s, GreenPrint will mobilize a network of local volunteers who will proportionally conduct tree planting and other carbon reduction projects to offset the emissions that are released. “Let’s face it. Climate change is adversely impacting communities and agriculture here in the US and worldwide,” said Pete Davis, founder and CEO of GreenPrint. “This is an exciting example of a recognized leader in the grocery industry investing in a program that will create a lasting impact in the environment for years to come, and we commend Giant/Martin’s on their bold commitment to do so.”  In addition, Giant/Martin’s and GreenPrint will partner with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 100,000 trees this year in the Mid-Atlantic area to kick-off the program.


More than 400 industry a-listers attended the New Jersey Food Council’s (NJFC) Night of Distinction event to honor its 2018 Industry Achievement Award recipients, those who continue to innovate and propel the industry in the state. NJFC President Linda Doherty said, “This year’s honorees have advanced the mission of the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC), achieved significant food business success, and have a history of civic service.” This year’s honorees were Chris Lane, executive vice president of Wakefern Food Corporation; Kathy Russello, executive vice president of Ahold Delhaize’s People Retail Business Services; and Dennis Hickey, chief merchandising officer of Krasdale Foods. “It was a great privilege to honor these three individuals who work diligently to support our efforts and our association’s mission. They are truly the cream of the crop in our industry and we are enormously proud to honor them. What also set these honorees apart were the presenters of the awards, who are industry giants in their own right,” Doherty added. Joe Sheridan, president of Wakefern, presented the award to Lane. “Chris is bold in his thinking. Brash when he needs to get things done. Continually challenges the status quo. And deeply committed to the success of the fifty families that make up the Wakefern cooperative,” said Sheridan. Kevin Holt, chief executive officer of Ahold Delhaize USA presented the award to Russello. In addition to her work commitments, Russello serves as the president of the Ahold Delhaize USA Family Foundation. “With more than 30 years of dedicated service to the food retail industry, we are extremely proud of Kathy’s accomplishments and many contributions not only in New Jersey, but within our organization as well,” said Holt. “Kathy is a distinguished leader and we are very proud of the incredible recognition she received from the New Jersey Food Council. One of her greatest qualities is her passion for caring for people and helping advance the careers of others through her leadership, commitment and compassion at work, every day.

But far and away the most entertaining introduction came from Jim Ostling, director of retail customers of Bimbo Bakeries USA when he presented an award to Hickey. “When the planning committee determines a recipient of this esteemed award, the group uses integrity, commitment to promoting strong trade partnerships, civic responsibility, and strength of character as credentials. Dennis represents all the characteristics of a food trade leader, and has for many years.” said Ostling. Event chair Mike Biase, Mission Foods, noted, “The Night of Distinction is an important event where the New Jersey grocery industry comes together to celebrate the industry leaders who have helped us to be one of the finest food trade organizations in the country.”

Congratulations to Redner’s Markets’ Gary Michael Redner as he ascends to chief operating officer and to Dan Eberhart as he moves up to vice president of procurement. Both are Redner’s “lifers” and have worked in various capacities during their tenure.


A well-deserved tip of the hat to Wakefern’s Marianne Santo as she becomes president of the Eastern Produce Council. She replaces Vic Savanello who recently joined The Fresh Market.

The circle of life continues as my favorite Simba in the food industry has taken the plunge into marital bliss. Amoroso Baking’s Jesse Amoroso and his bride Jordyn Shaffer, who manages social media for Anthropologie, were married April 21 in Santa Barbara, CA. After a weekend of wedding festivities, the newlyweds are planning a safari honeymoon later this year.

Birthday shout outs for this unusually cold month of April go to: Lou Eni Jr., Dietz & Watson; Ed Herr, Herr Foods; Theresa Lowden, JOH Produce; Charlie Poletti, retired from Acosta; Jack Foti, Rosa Foods; Ron Benjamin, Star Companies; and Scott Vicari, PromoPoint Marketing. And finally, a special 40th birthday shout out to Best-Met Publishing and our fearless leader, Jeff Metzger. Forty never looked so good! Buon compleanno a tutti!


Quote of the month: “When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.” Barbara Bush


Maria can be reached at