Aisle Chatter

Karen is the director of marketing/digital strategy and the specialty foods editor at Food World and Food Trade News. With many years under her belt in the hospitality, food & beverage, and retail food industries, she transitioned to the media side of the business in 2011. She can be reached at

It’s officially fall and for many people that means football season. And for those enthusiasts who are tailgating or hosting guests, guacamole is a main staple of the food table spread. However, the main ingredient in this mass appealing dip, the avocado, can be quite temperamental. Also called the alligator pear because of its bumpy dark green skin, timing is everything with this fruit. Oftentimes it is a guessing game until the moment you cut into it. Sometimes you can feel like a veritable Goldilocks trying to get it at just the right moment when it is not too firm and not too mushy but instead is just perfectly creamy in texture and as soon as you cut into it, the browning process begins which can make for a visually less appealing dish. It can be a very frustrating ingredient to use because you never know what you are working with until the inaugural first slice, but one company has solved that dilemma for you. Welch’s has introduced frozen avocados. Available in 10 ounce and 32 ounce bags which tout the tagline, “Taste like they were just picked,” the product consists of ripe frozen chunks that don’t brown. How’s that for a game changer?

If frozen avocados aren’t your speed but you still have an avocado toast addiction to fuel, a Santa Barbara, CA-based company may become your new best friend. Apeel Sciences is taking unused parts of plants and is recycling them to create edible barriers that can protect fruits and vegetables from harmful environmental effects and can extent their shelf life by two to five times. The two products, Invisipeel and Edipeel, are FDA approved and are both natural, clear, tasteless and odorless. Invispeel protects crops prior to harvesting by forming a very thin layer of unfamiliar molecules that make it unrecognizable to pests. Edipeel, which is applied after harvesting in order to extend shelf life, does so by slowing oxidation and water loss. Not only do the two agricultural products preserve the appearance of produce, but they also maintain the flavor and nutrition of fruits and vegetables. The firm has already received $40 million in funding (with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as one of its backers) with and has been recognized as a 2018 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer. Costco and grocery chain Harp’s rolled out Apeel avocados (supplied by Eco Farms and Del Rey Avocados) this past summer and the company is in talks with some big yet to be named retailers about utilizing their cutting edge technology. According to Apeel Sciences founder James Rogers, “There’s tremendous opportunities for cost savings in supply chain. Right now, we’re just interested in reducing shrink on the shelves, and by doing that, we can dramatically improve sales in different produce categories.” Rogers also stated, “It means you’re throwing out less produce and it means higher quality produce in your refrigerator. We’re slowing down the rate the clock is ticking. And by doing that, you have more of an opportunity to enjoy the food in your home, and you’re going to be throwing away a lot less of it.”

Last month, Giant/Martin’s announced the first store in its chain to reach zero waste, which according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), means that 90 percent of the store’s waste is being diverted from a landfill or incineration. The Cleona, PA store has been incorporating recycling procedures as well as carefully monitoring what is sent to the store’s trash compactor so nothing gets thrown away that could potentially be recycled. This includes ensuring no cardboard is labeled as garbage, filling designated bins with food waste and scraps for organic recycling, and collecting plastic bags, plastic film, and empty pharmacy pill bottles to be sent back to Giant/Martin’s recycling center. “Doing our part in caring for the environment for future generations is a major initiative for us companywide,” said Manuel Haro, vice president of strategy for the Carlisle, PA based division of Ahold Delhaize USA. “To reach zero waste is a significant achievement that required the complete dedication of all Cleona store associates. Not only is Cleona the first Giant to reach zero waste, it’s also the first store among our Ahold Delhaize USA sister companies to achieve this milestone!” Currently 77 percent of all waste generated by the retailer’s stores is diverted through recycling and composting.


Also actively working on sustainability initiatives is Weis Markets, which announced its 11th store (this one in Randolph, NJ) to receive a GreenChill certification from the EPA for reducing in-store refrigerant usage. It is the first of the Weis Market locations to use a CO2 refrigerant system that helps it avoid annual refrigerant emissions equivalent to an estimated 673 tons of carbon dioxide versus using traditional refrigerants, which have a significantly higher global warming potential. “Over the past decade, we have steadily upgraded our in-store sustainability program which has helped us reduce our company’s overall carbon footprint by 20 percent,” said R. Kevin Small, Weis Markets’ vice president of construction and store development. “Our new CO2 refrigerant system will help our Randolph store annually avoid emitting the equivalent of 673 tons of carbon dioxide –comparable to removing 142 passenger vehicles from the road. Working with GreenChill has been a key part of our program. This GreenChill certification also highlights the contributions of our store and development associates who help us implement and monitor our program to reduce refrigerant usage.” The Randolph store’s other sustainable features include: demand response programs to reduce power load during peak days and the store’s load on the power grid; LED lighting which reduces energy usage and has lower maintenance costs; low-flow devices to support water conservation efforts; enclosed refrigeration cases to reduce energy use; and polished concrete floors which do not require chemical cleaning solvents.

Finally, I want to give kudos to the Safeway Foundation, which announced that grants totaling $242,931 from its annual People Living with Disabilities fundraising campaign will benefit 30 different community organizations, courtesy of funds raised throughout July in all Safeway Eastern stores in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia. The grants will go to programs that provide local children and adults with access to ability-specific camps, specialty services, employment training and help to gain employment, and care. “Safeway has a long tradition of supporting people with special needs,” said Tom Lofland, president, Safeway Eastern division. “Thanks to our customers’ generous donations, Safeway Foundation will fund 30 organizations. As a company that proudly employs many people with disabilities, we see firsthand the value these organizations provide. We are committed to contributing to their success and helping to increase their impact.”



Until next month…