Soup To Nutz

A native of Philadelphia, Maria has been in the food business for most of her career as a manufacturer, distributor and restaurateur. Now with Food Trade News for over 10 years, she likes to say we inform, educate and entertain. She can be reached at maria@foodtradenews.com.


After many months of meetings, research, uploads, and final tweaks the relaunch of our website has finally arrived! We are so pleased with the final product and we hope you, our valued readers, will enjoy what we have created so you can keep up to date with the retail food industry happenings from New York Metro to the Carolinas. We would love you to sign up for our newsletter so you can receive breaking news and updates. The website also has a new address – www.foodtradenews.com. So check it out and enjoy the photo galleries, videos, industry event calendar and news – available at any time, from anywhere!

I want to give a special tip of the hat to Karen Fernandez, our digital strategist/ marketing director. Karen ran this project from start to finish and deserves all the accolades for its concept, production, launch and success. We couldn’t have done this without you!

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I don’t know how he does it, or who will do it when he retires, but Bill Carter of Knauss Foods sure knows how to run a golf outing. Traditionally the first outing of the season, the 15th annual Mid Atlantic Food Trade Organization (MAFTO) golf outing was a roaring success, with 100 golfers getting the kinks out of their games and the cobwebs off their golf clubs. Even the weather cooperates every year for Bill and his committee, who put together great prizes and a delicious dinner menu at Commonwealth Golf Club in Horsham, PA, an awesome course.

Winners of the afternoon scramble with a 10 under gross was the foursome from Borden Perlman: Mark Phander, Tony Almeda, Sharon Capella and Dave Erickson. Longest drives went to Dave Deets of Brown’s ShopRites for the men and Sharon Capella of Borden Perlman for the women. Let the golf season begin! To become a member of MAFTO, go to www.mafto.org

Philadelphia is home to many iconic brands, but none is as infamous as Wawa. On April 11, Wawa celebrated Wawa Day, marking a significant milestone in the Red Roof, PA based c-store’s history. Wawa opened its first convenience store on April 16, 1964, and each year, on or close to the anniversary date, Wawa celebrates by toasting the community with more than 2 million cups of free coffee in all 840 stores chain-wide.

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The date also marks the fifth anniversary of the day Wawa launched The Wawa Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization encompassing the majority of its charitable giving. This year, in addition to free coffee (any size all day), Wawa hosted six in-store celebrations – one celebration in every state in which they operate. The Pennsylvania celebration was held at the Wawa located at 6th and Chestnut Streets in Philly across from Independence Hall.

Wawa president and CEO Chris Gheysens poured the ceremonial first cup of coffee with Philadelphia mayor, Jim Kinney (presumably with no sugar added).  Gheysens also announced a new store format and unveiled a first-look at the renderings of the new Wawa innovation store prototype, named the “Test Nest” which will be tailored to Wawa’s city customers who live, work and shop in town.

The first of its kind, this 3,000 square foot Wawa will be located on 16th and Markets Streets in Center City and will feature: a walk-up window; an expanded “Ready to Run” or “Built to Order” in the grab and go section; and new lids, straws, bags and stirrers designed to reduce their environmental footprint. Ghysens also announced the new store-level Wawa Catering packaging and menus set to launch first week of May in all stores.

Wawa Foundation president, Jay Culotta, then presented three $1 million contributions to three of Wawa’s seven national community partners: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; Special Olympics; and Check Out Hunger (Philabundance). Since its inception five years ago, Wawa Foundation has donated more than $66 million to non-profits in the areas of health, hunger and everyday heroes. After the formal program, there was a Philly style “Showdown” Hoagie Build between The Rooster Restaurant and the Wawa chefs. Representing The Rooster was owner and acclaimed Philadelphia Chef Michael Solomonov (he also owns Zahav, in Society Hill, which just won the 2019 James Beard Award for best restaurant in the USA) and representing Wawa was Chef Farley Kaiser. The goal: to build as many “Broad Street Meatball” hoagies as they could in five minutes. The meatball recipe used was a collaboration between The Rooster and Wawa and proceeds benefited the Broad Street Ministry. By the way, they’re delicious! And a good time was had by all. Happy “speed limit” birthday, Wawa!

Garden State Farms, a division of Procacci Holdings, LLC, and merchant in the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM), has recently expanded by acquiring their friendly competitor and neighbor, A.Vassallo, Inc. Over the years the DiPascale family, the owners of A.Vassallo, and the Procacci family have maintained a friendly working partnership to serve the needs of the produce market. Combining the two family-run companies will expand their customer base and increase product quality and availability.

“It was a natural expansion to our Garden State Farms operation,” says J.M. Procacci, CEO of Procacci Holdings, LLC. He added, “As we continue to expand, our commitment to the market is integral to our growth.” With the acquisition, Procacci Brother’s Garden State Farms will have four units at the market.

Mike Maxwell, president of Procacci Brothers, addressed the rapid growth at the PWPM. He said, “Philadelphia is seeing more local crops coming in from the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York.” Maxwell noted, “PWPM is the ideal location to distribute produce and acquiring A.Vassallo makes Garden State more efficient for their customers.”

Procacci Brothers recognizes the hard-work and dedication of David DiPascale, who will continue on as co-vice president of terminal operations for Garden State Farms. Maxwell commented on his life-long friendship with DiPascale. “He has built a great team over there, and we are excited about the future of our market,” he said. The future is bright for the 70 plus year old Procacci Brothers. They are always looking for new ways to be innovative, efficient, and sustainable. Congratulations!

Kudos to Kelly Davis, director of produce and floral at Allegiance Retail Services. She has been named the first vice president of the Eastern Produce Council’s (EPC) executive board.  Other members of the EPC’s executive team are: Marianne Santo of Wakefern Food Corp., president; George Moskal of GVM Consulting, second vice president; Mike Maxwell of Procacci Brothers, secretary; Rob Goldstein of GenPro Inc., treasurer; and Susan McAleavey Sarlund, executive director. The next event on the EPC calendar is a dinner on May 21 hosted by sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Please refer to the trade calendar on page 52 for more information.

We send best wishes to Eileen Acello, formerly of the Academy of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University, who has moved on to the warmer climate of South Florida to take a position as a full-time marketing professor at Florida Atlantic University. I’m sure she’s going to revolutionize the department. Look for many new and exciting things to come! You go girl!

Birthday shout outs for the fragrant month of May go out to: George Endrigian, George’s Market; Anthony L Maglio, retired from Maglio Sausage; Doug Buchanan, Brandywine Marketing; Bill Hinderer, National Food Sales; Jan Gabriel, Paul G. Nester and Co.; Beth Pripstein, FW/FTN office manager; and Dick Bestany, chairman emeritus and co-founder of BMP. Buon compleanno a tutti!

Quote of the month: “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” Napoleon Hill

Maria’s new email is maria@foodtradenews.com