Metro Beat

Kevin is VP at Food Trade News with primary responsibility for covering the Metro NY/NJ and New England markets. He has more than 30 years of experience on the CPG side of the retail food business and in media. He can be reached at

Welcome to 2019. I trust you all had a terrific holiday season and are ready to start the new year with energy and focus. We all look to this time of year as an opportunity for new things and hope for a better year than the previous one. In all likelihood this coming year will bring a variety of changes to our industry and we look forward to being there for you to discuss and report on them. Happy New Year. I hope 2019 is a great one for you and your loved ones.

I won’t dwell on the King Kullen/Stop & Shop deal in this space, as we have ample coverage on page one of this issue and we blasted an email news alert right after it happened. (If you want to be on our email alert list, just let me know.) What I will say, though, is that it is sad that another long tenured local customer will no longer be on our landscape and it seems as though every year brings another similar story.

A happy retirement to Bill Costello of Jetro/Restaurant Depot who is retiring after 37 years at the company. Bill held a variety of responsibilities at Jetro/RD but was predominately in perishables procurement positions. More interestingly, Bill commuted from Pennsylvania every day (via train.) to College Point, Queens where the company located. When he first joined the big wholesale cash & carry supplier, its offices were located on Manhattan’s West Side and the commute was waaay easier. Ever the trooper, Bill lengthened his commute and continued his efforts on behalf of Jetrot/RD. Kudos Bill on a long successful career and happy retirement.


The New Year rang in with a positive sound for Bob Cignarella and his team at RDD Associates. Effective February 1 the big perishables broker will handle the Siggi’s Skyr yogurt line (a division of Lactalis USA) in the metro New York/New Jersey markets. Skyr is the traditional yogurt of Iceland and is a strained non-fat yogurt made by incubating skim milk with live active cultures. Then the whey, the water naturally found in milk, is strained away to make for a much thicker, creamier and concentrated yogurt. It takes four times the milk to make one cup of Siggi’s compared to regular yogurt. The Siggi’s line will join the Stonyfield yogurt line (also a division of Lactalis) at RDD which was appointed for representation last January. Congrats.

Kudos to the good folks at Krasdale Foods and the New York Yankees as they teamed up once again for the annual Yankees Holiday Food Drive. The event is held at Yankee Stadium every holiday season and this great holiday tradition rewards any fan donating at least 30 pounds of non-perishable food with two complimentary tickets to a Yankee game in 2019. New York Yankee VP of marketing, Deb Tymon told us, “This started in 1994 and we totaled 2,000 pounds of donations that year. Thanks to partners like Krasdale we have grown tremendously, and this year will receive 90,000 pounds of food (that’s two truckloads) from Krasdale alone.” Gus Lebiak, Alpha 1 Marketing EVP/CMO said, “We thank all of our vendor partners and Krasdale and Alpha 1 associates in making this happen for the local communities.” Great job by all involved.

Well done to Mitch DiMatteo and his team at Inspired Foods on another successful year of business as he and his gang toasted the holidays with a soiree at their Ocean Twp., NJ offices with customers and principals on hand to mingle and celebrate the season. The big bakery broker is now entering its seventh year of business and has grown into other markets as well as dominate the local bakery scene. Congrats.


Mark your calendars for March 7 for a really nice and worthy charitable event. The Foundation for Fighting Blindness (FFB) Vision for the Future dinner will be held at Terrace on the Park, Flushing Meadow Park, NY and director and trustee of FFB Jason Ferreira of Ferreira Foodtown told us that this year’s honoree will be Fine Fare store owner Rudy Fuertes who is also past president of the National Supermarket Association. There is always a big turnout eat this vent from the entire food industry and this year the FFB will be adding a new and exciting component, “Dining in the Dark.” All attendees will be given blackout masks and be served their meals in the dark. “Dining in the Dark is a powerful dining experience, inviting you into a world of sensitivity you may never have experienced, leading you through a unique journey in the dark,” Jason told us. For more information about A Vision for the Future please contact Katie Van Benschoten at 212,244.1470 or

And a big shout out to Inserra Supermarkets, owner and operator of 22 ShopRite stores, for donating 6,500 turkeys to people in need during the 2018 holiday season. ShopRite volunteers helped load pallets of frozen turkeys into waiting trucks, vans and cars destined for organizations such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, Table to Table, Community Foodbank of New Jersey, the American Legion and the Salvation Army. The turkeys were distributed to 150 community and faith-based organizations located in the areas where Inserra ShopRite stores operate in Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties in New Jersey, and Rockland County, NY. The turkeys, which were picked up by representatives from local and regional organizations, helped help feed 50,000 people during the holiday season.

“We are honored to join our neighbors and friends today who represent organizations doing important work in the community. We thank these organizations for raising awareness about hunger and making sure these turkeys are delivered to neighbors in need this year,” said Larry Inserra Jr., chairman and CEO of Inserra Supermarkets. Well done, Inserra ShopRite.

We were happy to hear that Joe Kuscuzba has landed a spot with House Foods America as regional sales manager-American market east. Joe was always one of those recognizable faces at Bimbo Bakeries for nearly 30 years where he had risen through the ranks over the years from a route salesman (with the old Entenmann’s Company) all the way up to area sales manager. In his new spot at House Foods he will continue to expand the company’s growth of its wide range of fresh tofu products. Good luck, Joe.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Connecticut Food Association’s (CFA) 2019 annual meeting and dinner reception. CFA president Wayne Pesce tells us the big evening is scheduled for February 28 at The Society Room in Hartford, CT. The night includes a cocktail hour, annual meeting and dinner reception. For more information contact the CFA at 860.216.4055 or via email at

Well, that will wrap it up for this month. That said, let me wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope the coming months brings you all hope, calmness, kindness and a fulfillment of your dreams. I wish you many successes, wise decisions, satisfaction, peace and prosperity for the entire year of 2019. All the best for you and your loved ones.

As always you can reach me at 201.250.2217 or