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 kevin@foodtradenews.com.

Greetings all and welcome to the 41st Annual Food Trade News Market Study issue! These projects are a real undertaking which require months of research and data compilation and once again we are proud to offer the entire metro NY/NJ marketing area to the study as well as the greater Philadelphia area and Central PA. Our esteemed team here at Food Trade News and Food World all worked in concert once again for the last few months and you are now holding in your hands (or reading online) the results of that collective effort. Our fine team consists of: f VP and editorial director, Terri Maloney; director of marketing and digital strategist, Karen Fernandez; VP and general manager, Maria Maggio; our office manager and data accumulator Beth Pripstein; and certainly our Grand Poobah and publisher, Jeff Metzger! This issue offers a wealth of information and can be beneficial for your business as you navigate through the food industry waters throughout the year. Enjoy the reading and we hope you find it useful.

While compiling some of the aforementioned data, I learned that one of my favorite people in the industry has retired. Chris Williams, COO at Stew Leonard’s, officially retired on April 30. Chris’ agreement with Stew back when he joined him in 2005 (wow, I hadn’t realized it was that long ago!) was that he was going to go full tilt until Chris hit the magical number of 60. Well, that time has come. Chris joined Stew after a successful stint at Stop & Shop where he was the SVP and GM of the Metro NY division and also the SVP and GM of the Connecticut division. He also was a member of the Ahold leadership group and executive committee. Prior to Stoppie, Chris was a longtime Pathmark employee holding down several positions at the former supermarket giant. There are no special or bigtime retirement plans just yet, but I’m sure it’s quality time with his lovely bride Pat, as well as some time with his boys. Anyone interested can reach Chris at his email address ckw71659@gmail.com. Happy retirement my friend!!!!

One of the more successful and well-attended events in our industry was held recently at the Hackensack Golf Club in Oradell, NJ. The Friends of the Food Industry held their annual cocktail reception and fundraiser to an overflow crowd of industry muckety mucks and also honored Larry Inserra Jr. of Inserra Supermarkets and recognized Rich Desimone of Alpha 1 Marketing; Tony Gisparro, retired from A&P; and Jen Kemp of Acosta with Lifetime Achievement awards. Patrick Sheils, Fairway Markets and president of the nonprofit organization, shared the news that the cocktail party and dinner event, along with other donations, had raised almost $150,000 for the cause. He added that these funds go directly to a variety of recipients whose dire situations have been brought to light by their peers and several area food retail employers that they are currently working for. Board member Ken Scher, Associated Stores Group, added that in its mission to raise money for colleagues and friends working in the retail food industry who have dire financial troubles, the group has raised more than $750,000 in just seven years. Credit to all of the board members of FOFI and everyone in the industry who donated generously and made this annual event a tremendous success. I said it several years ago when this group was first formed, but I’ll say it again: If you haven’t attended the FOFI spring cocktail party, put it on your 2020 calendar, because it draws customers, vendors and everyone in the metro NY/NJ food industry for a terrific cause! Check out the group at friendsofthefoodindustry.org.

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Congratulations to Inserra Supermarkets on the unveiling of their newest unit, ShopRite of New Milford. The 72,000 square foot marvel replaces an antiquated older store just a mile down the road that closed the day of the opening. The new store is 20,000 square feet larger and doesn’t miss a thing with fabulous décor and a multitude of service departments including ShopRite Kitchen and Inserra Grill, health and wellness with an in-store registered dietician, Patsy’s Butcher, full-service bakery and seafood, organic produce and much more.

And speaking of ShopRite, congratulations to Wakefern on receiving the FOOD award from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey at the group’s annual Blue Jean Ball held at Central Railroad Terminal in Liberty State Park. Wakefern, one of the food bank’s founding partners and its largest food donor, and the 50 member families that own and operate ShopRite, Price Rite, Dearborn Market and The Fresh Grocer stores also provide leading financial support and engage thousands of their employees as volunteers. Last year alone, they donated more than 6 million pounds of food to provide for neighbors in need throughout New Jersey. “Giving back is a defining aspect of our unique culture at Wakefern,” said Joe Sheridan, president and COO of Wakefern.

In other ShopRite news, the company  has kicked off its “Locally Grown” season by expanding partnerships with local farmers. As a way to boost fresh produce, ShopRite features a program that is dietician-driven and emphasizes health and wellness through eating locally grown fruits and vegetables. ShopRite’s locally grown campaign will be promoted in its circulars and on broadcast television commercials, highway billboards and social media.

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Derrick Jenkins, ShopRite’s vice president of floral and produce, said in a statement that “this year’s locally grown program is going to be bigger than ever before.”

Local farms will be highlighted in in-store displays and marketing materials, including copy written on blackboards that includes the names and addresses of nearby farms where the food was sourced. And look for weekend “farm stands” in front of some of the stores.

And finally, we were saddened to learn that two former perishables stalwarts have passed away.

Phil Kane, formerly of Keller’s Creamery and P&L Associates, passed away on May 13 at the age of 81. Phil was a seasoned and successful food executive and those who know him also knew his faith was his passion. He was a senior leader of the churches he belonged to and was heavily involved with outreach programs affiliated with those churches. He is survived by his wife Lois and his three sons and daughter, 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. The family asks that any memorial contributions in his name be made to Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge c/o Finance Dept., PO Box 98, Rehrersburg, PA 19550. Please write “Phil Kane” on the memo line or donate online at www.paatc.org/donate.

And Bob Janotte of MPS Enterprises passed away on May 5. Long a fixture in the perishable food industry, Bob had been slowed down in recent years, but still was seen out at various trade shows and customer lobbies. He had moved from his longtime home on Long Island to eastern Pennsylvania to be nearer to his grandchildren. He is survived by his wife Linda and his two sons and a daughter as well as the four grand kids. Contributions in his memory may be made to St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105 or to Make A Wish Foundation, 5 Valley Square, Suite 210 Blue Bell, PA 19422. May their souls rest in peace.

As always you can reach me at 201.250.2217 or kevin@foodtradenews.com.