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 all and welcome to the summer of 2019. Plenty of golf and outings to be had and hopefully you are all getting a chance to be involved with some of them.

At the end of June there was a large rally in front of the NYC mayor’s office to demonstrate and protest the city’s proposal to force companies to offer paid vacations to all of their employees. Under the plan, small businesses would have to provide their employees with up to two weeks of paid vacation. Front and center during the demonstration at the steps of City Hall was William Rodriguez, president of the National Supermarket Association (NSA), along with hundreds of other small business owners as well as scores of independent supermarket owners and NSA members. The business owners say that the plan will affect them economically and will add to the already excessive expenses of regulations, taxes and fines they face on an on-going basis.

“The problem we have is that the City now wants to encourage us to give this privilege to the employees who work part time, and if we now have to pay two weeks of vacation to these young people, we cannot do it. What we are going to do is displace them with Full-time workers which is worse for the youth,” said Rodriguez. “We are protesting against all the legislation that is happening against today’s small merchants and us. It is very difficult for us to survive in NYC.” All of this is on top of the recent minimum wage increase in NYC which has resulted in more closings of small businesses. Good luck to all of the small businesses in their fight.


Good news came to the Totowa, NJ offices of RDD Associates: Bob Cignarella’s company was appointed to represent Improved Nature LLC for the metro New York/New Jersey market for all classes of trade.

Improved Nature is an innovative plant-based foods company making sustainable, plant-based protein items boasting superior taste, texture and cooking-versatility, thanks to their proprietary production process. On-trend with the continuing rise in consumption of plant-based, meat alternatives, Improved Nature appeals to health- and environmentally-conscious consumers. Their line of “heat and serve” items includes “plant-based, chicken-free” filets, tenders, cutlets and nuggets. Chris Vuono will serve as the business manager on the line.

Congrats to Zak Romanoff, president of Omni Food Sales, on a successful presentation to a delegation of United Kingdom food manufacturing companies. During the recent Fancy Food show, Zak was invited by Altios International to address a delegate of companies from the United Kingdom.


Twelve companies were in attendance to hear Zak give an overview of the retail food market in the metro New York and Northeast markets and how to effectively launch a brand in the U.S. After an in-depth presentation there was a lively Q&A session among the group. If you want to check it out you can see it on Zak’s podcast, “The Brand Advocate.” Congrats Zak.

Best wishes to Paul Bellacero as he joins Woodstock Farms in Edison, NJ as senior business development manager. Paul joins Woodstock with a wealth of produce experience from his long time career as director of sales at Aurora Products and I’m sure he will be a great asset for the company.

The Food Institute has released its “Food Business Mergers & Acquisitions 2018.” The newly revamped report provides more analysis on the mergers and acquisitions recorded in 2018 in an easier to digest format. Organized into more than 25 categories, the guide is a valuable resource for exploring trends in specific industries or international markets, comparing the past year’s deals with historical data. The guide also comes with a comprehensive, one-of-a-kind Excel file, listing every single merger in the industry in the past year, organized by category and completely searchable and sortable.

With consolidation a powerful force in the food industry, a lack of awareness of market trends and contemporary acquisitions may result in lost opportunities or a mismanaged deal. For more information contact The Food Institute at 201.791.5570 ext. 218.

And being an old Long Island boy, a little flashback to my childhood came back when I learned that Bob Pergament passed away on July 1 at the age of 89. That’s Pergament as in Pergament Home Centers.

Founded by Bob’s father Louis in 1939 as a single hardware store, Pergament Home Center, under the stewardship of Bob and his brother Murray, grew into a retail chain, with more than 40 locations in the Tri-State area doing sales of $375 million. In fact, the chain is largely credited with creating an entire industry – the DIY industry. Pergament contracted with manufacturers that created products specifically for the do-it-yourself customer, instead of products created for contractors. In addition, Pergament Home Center was one of the first in the area to offer latex paint. At a time when stores sold only oil-based paints, housewives quickly embraced the water-based latex paint and its ease of use, helping engineer a radical change in the industry. Bob started as a salesman and cashier with the company at the age of 10. As the family business grew, he held a position of executive vice president of merchandising, sales, marketing and advertising within the corporation, and was named a “marketing genius” of his generation, especially with the company’s tagline, “Be Confident, Shop Pergament.” He is survived by his wife Lois, daughters Debra and Lori and son Arthur.

Anybody looking for some Italy travel advice should give Tom DeLuca of Arizona Beverages a call.

Tom recently spent two weeks traveling and traversing the Tuscany region of Italy with his entire family as they celebrated his 60th birthday. By all accounts it was a spectacular time and happy birthday, Tom!

Congratulations to Jose Perez on the opening of his third supermarket, a Modern Fresh Market located at 411 East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. The 15,000 square foot space sits at street level below 400 apartment units in a building that Jose also owns. The store utilizes an industrial look with a modern décor and is very open, which makes the space seem much larger. A big produce department greets you as you enter, as does an in-store café and coffee shop and full service deli. Several of the customers streaming in on the opening day were very enthusiastic about the new store, claiming the area has needed a new supermarket for quite some time. Good luck Jose and family.

We heard from Jim Gorman of ESM/Ferolie who wanted to remind everyone that the C.I.F.I. Annual Charity golf outing will take place on August 13 at The Engineers Club in Roslyn Harbor, Long Island. There are still some spots left for golf and the group could use some more raffle prizes for the event. For more information contact Jim at or 201.949.2232.

And finally, I know I usually end with a “see you out and about” at the upcoming events, but it’s going to be a few weeks before I do see anyone “out and about.” I had knee replacement surgery a few days before we went to press (old football injuries finally catching up to me waaaay too early in life).

Therefore, I will be house bound for a few weeks and then hopefully will be allowed to venture out a little bit. In the interim, and as always, you can still reach me at 201.250.2217 or Enjoy your summer and I do hope to see you all soon!!