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.

Well we’re rounding the turn and heading into Q4 of 2019. Here’s hoping we all end it on a high note.

Kudos to Linda Doherty, president of the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) and the entire NJFC staff on once again hosting a terrific Good Government breakfast. The 46th annual breakfast was held at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Twp., NJ. The event creates an atmosphere where food industry attendees can break bread and interface with state legislators while everyone learns of the winners of the Good Government awards and outstanding Legislator of the Year.

Jeanne Eichinger, sustainability and government relations team lead for Wawa, received the “Good Government Award,” the highest honor received by food industry members who actively participate in advocacy efforts for policies that help New Jersey’s food industry thrive. Paul Rodriguez, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, received the Thomas W. Kelly Government Service Award for his ongoing efforts to bring updated and predictable practices to the Office of Weights and Measures. State Senator Vin Gopal (D-11th Dist.) received the “Outstanding Legislator Award” for his support of a legislative agenda which promotes growth of New Jersey’s food industry. He advocates for policies which promote a vibrant business climate and economic growth. Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-12th Dist.)  also received the “Outstanding Legislator Award” for his accessibility and active engagement and support of New Jersey’s food industry. Congratulations to all! And before leaving the NJFC, Linda asked us to remind everyone again that the 50th anniversary celebration and reunion of the New Jersey Food Council will take place on December 5 at the Park Chateau Estate in East Brunswick, NJ. It promises to be an evening of walking down memory lane and reliving 50 years of food industry achievements. This event will be a sell-out, so to reserve your tickets now, call 609.392.8899 or email njfc@njfoodcouncil.com.

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Congratulations to Mike Murphy, senior vice president of operations at Quick Chek, on his retirement from the company after 43 years. Mike was a tireless worker for the Whitehouse, NJ based chain and help lead Quick Chek’s expansion with an unwavering dedication to the company and more importantly to all of the Quick Chek associates. I always had a little humorous back and forth with Mike through the years. Mike liked to claim that over the last 25 years of the countless industry events that we always bumped into each other, that any photos we took of him never made it to the paper. Well just so you know, Mike, I went back and counted all of the ones I could find and, for the record, you were in 112!!!! When we learn of Mike’s retirement plans we will pass them along, but I’m sure a lot of his time will be spent with family, as well as getting in some fishing, golfing, and spending time on his charitable work (Mike is heavily involved with a New Jersey chapter of JDRF). And let’s not forget plenty of time singing and enjoying quality time with his many industry friends! Best wishes, Mike.

The Specialty Food Association (SFA) has announced a complete rebranding effort for the association. SFA’s new vision to ‘Shape the Future of Food’ will serve as an umbrella to an array of educational, networking and research offerings designed to better serve the needs of its membership. The newly redesigned SFA logo, an imperfect circle, captures the constantly shifting and evolving industry and the limitless effects that food and drink have on our culture and everyday lives. The logo also represents the association’s 360 degree approach to nurturing and introducing new specialty food products and companies into the marketplace. Founded in 1952, the SFA’s earliest days were at a time of burgeoning American demand for international goods and global flavors. Since then, and especially through the Fancy Food Shows, countless domestic and international brands have launched in the U.S. market under the auspices of the SFA. Now, with plans to build a membership of not only food producers but buyers, distributors, and affiliated businesses too, the SFA is leveraging its strengths to convene a vital, modern community of food. The rebrand will amplify the association’s established success and promote a dynamic new Specialty Food Association. “For decades, the SFA has been at the forefront of food innovation. Our top priority is to continue offering new ways to support our always-evolving community and to help our member companies grow and succeed,” said SFA president Phil Kafarakis. “The current American appetite for clean, authentic, flavorful, and healthier foods is here to stay. Through the rebrand and our expanded offerings, we’ll be inviting in a wider range of members to fully represent the marketplace and better reflect the diversity of our consumer-focused industry.”

And a couple of industry veterans are moving on to new pastures. Rich Walters, former VP at EA Berg Associates for the last 18, years has joined Burdette Beckman (BBI) as business relations manager. BBI is a Florida based sales and marketing agency focused on representing snack and confectionery manufacturers through a unique channel design. BBI provides sales, analytic, administrative, financial, event and marketing services in the grocery, convenience store, special markets, vending, value, and club drug mass channels. Best wishes Rich! And Jill Mazer, longtime region manager at Taylor Farms/Earthbound Farms and Ready Pac Produce, has joined F&S Produce as senior director Sales & Marketing. F&S is a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of fresh-cut produce and other refrigerated value-added products. Congratulations, Jill!

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While the Connecticut retail industry has been sorting out the state’s new single-use bag law and meals tax, the Connecticut Food Association (CFA) and its president, Wayne Pesce, have been hard at work assisting and advocating with their membership on the best way to implement the new laws. In addition, the CFA is putting together its annual Person of the Year Banquet. This year the honoree is Jody Plonski, Price Chopper–Market 32’s senior vice president of operations. Additionally, Burr McDermott from Kayem Foods and Rob LaBonne from Labonne’s Markets will be recognized for their community service and next generation leadership, respectively. All of the fun will be happening at Mohegan Sun on November 7. For more information call the CFA at 860.216.4055 or email ctfood@ctfoodassociation.org.

And speaking of events don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Food Industry Alliance (FIA) Gala. Formerly known as the Red Carpet Salute, the October 24 event will still be held at the Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle, NY. The big evening brings together the entire New York state retail trade and this year’s keynote speaker will be former professional baseball player and manager Bobby Valentine. For more information contact the FIA at 518.434.1900.

With the football season in in full swing, ShopRite has utilized the power and draw of some local NFL players to help fight hunger in local communities in the ShopRite trading areas.

Every year, in partnership with Procter & Gamble, ShopRite Partners In Caring brings football superstars from New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore to join with ShopRite stores across the region and bring awareness to the issue of food insecurity in the local community.

New York Jet running back Le’Veon Bell joined the associates at the Village ShopRite in Union, NJ to bag groceries. Evan Engram, tight end for the New York Giants, joined the Brookdale ShopRite in Bloomfield, NJ to meet with fans and bag groceries for customers. And Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram teamed with Klein’s ShopRite. With nearly 40 million Americans, including more than 12 million children, suffering from food insecurity, ShopRite helps to raise awareness and inspire action within their local communities through its hunger-fighting initiative, ShopRite Partners In Caring, is a year-round, community based program that provides funds to local food banks. Since its inception in 1999, ShopRite Partners In Caring has donated $48 million to local food banks, supporting more than 2,200 charities that feed the hungry in communities served by ShopRite stores.

Well that will do it for now. Check out our trade calendar – in this issue on page 12 or online at www.foodtradenews.com/calendar/ – because there are plenty of industry events coming up and I hope to see you out at some of them.

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