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

Greetings everyone and I do believe we can see glimpses of springtime right around the corner.

Well, it was a big night for the National Supermarket Association (NSA) as the group held a swearing-in ceremony for its newly elected board of directors. More than 250 people packed the Terrace on the Park ballroom to meet the new board consisting of: William Rodriguez, president; Sam Collado, vice president; Pedro Goico, general secretary; Frank Felix Zapata, treasurer; along with JD Azcona, Ivan Bueno, Nallely de Jesus, Dionicio Liz, Angel Rafael Nunez, Anthony Pena and Frank Pimente. The board will serve a term of two years. The newly elected president, (who is back as prez for the third time!) gave a gracious tip of the hat to the many founders, members and suppliers of the NSA as well as a heartfelt message of gratitude to outgoing president Rudy Fuertes who served two consecutive terms. William stated, “Our (NSA) vision is to be the premier institution in the communities we serve. We will continue to create alliances with community organizations to support those that support us. I also plan to convene an external advisory board to help guide the NSA into the next era. The American dream might be a little blurred at the moment, but it is still very much there! We look forward to working together for a prosperous and dynamic future for the NSA.” Overall, it was a terrific evening, and good to see everyone networking at the event.

Congratulations to old friend Dennis Hickey, chief merchandising officer at Krasdale Foods, on adding the responsibility of day-to-day operations in Florida, managing both merchandising for the area’s Bravo stores and Krasdale’s Beta II marketing office, located in Miami. Read about the detail of Dennis’ new responsibilities on page 2 of this issue.


Best wishes to Jay King on landing with Bar-S Foods (Sigma) as a key account manager. Jay joins the company after holding regional management positions with Sara Lee (Hillshire), Schwan’s and Uno Foods. He will be handling accounts from New England down through the Mid-Atlantic markets and we wish him well in his endeavors.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for a few annual food shows coming up in the next few weeks. A must-see if you have never been to one is the Key Food Selling show, which will be held February 27 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island. Suffice it to say, you have never quite experienced a trade food show like a Key Food selling show. Next up is the Bozzuto’s Independent Retailer Conference March 5 -6 at Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Connecticut. That two-day event is highlighted by the annual awards show on the first evening of the conference (think Oscars night) and the precision and expertise produced by the Bozzuto’s staff really makes for an enjoyable night. Finally, C&S will hold its two-day show at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT on March 26-27. Hope to see you out at these events. Speaking of key events to mark down, the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) will host its annual Night of Distinction on March 28 at The Palace at Somerset Park. The event regularly sells out, so reserve your tickets now. This year’s honorees are, Jeff Brown, Brown’s Super Stores; Herman Dodson, JP Morgan Chase; Joseph Parisi, Kings Food Markets and Donna Zambo, Allegiance Retail Services.

Associated Stores Group (ASG), in concert with its supplier C&S Wholesale Grocers, held a retailer summit for its store owners and managers at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel in East Elmhurst, NY. The theme of the day was “Stay Connected-Be Profitable. Redefining How Independents Operate.” Approximately 100 owners and managers were on hand and ASG president Joe Garcia kicked off the day and was followed by Zulema Wiscovitch, Ken Scher, Francisco Nieves and Michelle Mendoza. Part of the presentation also encouraged the owners to look at the pre-packaged and prepared foods now available through ASG’s strategic partnership with Fairway Markets. The alliance can help ASG owners capitalize on lower labor costs, gross margin across numerous categories and maintain consistency and quality of pre-packaged meal offerings. Mike Tarloff of C&S wrapped up the summit and encouraged the attendees to walk the small trade show on site which highlighted specialty and ethnic offerings from Davidson Specialty Foods (now owned by C&S) as well as perimeter of the store items. Overall a good initial effort by ASG to educate and inform their customers.


We received a note from retired friend Mike Laverty (formerly with Jones Dairy Farm and Kraft Foods) who wanted to remind us that he once again is getting ready for the annual Polar Bear Plunge to benefit Special Olympics on February 23. This is Mike’s 16th straight year of doing the plunge and he continues to do it with good reason as two of his three children were born with developmental disabilities.  Physical limitations now prevent them from participating in Special Olympics, but there was a time when they could, and he told me it filled them with more pride and joy than he can describe. Over the last 15 years, support from a lot of his food industry friends has been instrumental in helping him personally raise more $440,000 for Special Olympics! Mike is asking for help again by hoping for your consideration in making a donation to the organization. You can donate online by going to or you can send a check payable to Special Olympics NJ to Mike Laverty at 145 Clipper Drive, Ocean City, NJ 08826. Good luck, Mike!!

And finally, before we go, kudos to Dean Janeway, George Knobloch and the entire headquarter team at Key Food Stores on once again delivering a terrific, informative and entertaining Vendor Summit. The lead-up to the day always creates an anticipatory feeling in the crowd and the presentation once again lived up to expectations. The meeting was held at the Hilton Garden Inn (just a long tee shot from the Key Food offices) and an overflow crowd of 800-plus was on hand to hear the plans for the coming year for the ever growing co-operative. While the humor component is always a crowd pleaser, Dean and George continue to be laser focused and refreshingly open and honest about Key Food’s goals and objectives. Turn to our lead story on page 1 for the full details on the entire summit, but I wanted to personally commend all of the Key Food staff and executives for once again delivering a superb event!

There are plenty of industry events coming up in the next few weeks. Turn to our calendar on page 36 (or online at to ensure you don’t miss any, and I hope to see you out there. As always you can reach me at 201.250.2217 or