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.

“On the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, life will be peaches and cream,” so goes the song from the post WWII 1940s. More than 700 food industry members flocked to the Ocean Resort Casino in America’s Playground the weekend of November 8 to honor Albertsons executive VP of operations and Acme Markets president Jim Perkins at the Mid Atlantic Food Trade Organization’s (MAFTO) 15th annual Gala. MAFTO president Chet Dudzinski, ALL Holdings, and his committee headed by Mark Phander, Borden Perlman, kicked the weekend off with a party at Top Golf Friday night followed by a scavenger hunt or painting class (or gambling) Saturday afternoon. At Jim’s request, the theme for this year’s Gala was “Commitment to Community/Paying it Forward.” Before speaking on that subject Saturday evening, he touched on some of Acme accomplishments in 2019 and updated stats for the iconic Philadelphia chain. Today, Acme is comprised of 164 stores in five states employing 17,500 people. Seventeen stores have been remodeled in 2019 and 55 stores now sell beer and wine. Also in 2019, Acme launched Drive Up and Go powered by Instacart to satisfy the needs of its customers. In the coming year, Acme is moving to a 52-week planning calendar, so vendors should be prepared, and many more store remodels are also planned. Jim thanked the vendor community for their participation in Acme’s programs from local programs to community support. He then moved on to the night’s topic: the importance of donating time, services and goods in an ongoing commitment to our communities and highlighted Acme’s 2019 philanthropic initiatives along with those of the entirety of the Gala’s sponsors. Presenting sponsor Canada Dry Delaware Valley Bottling Company and the Honickman Family were given special recognition for their philanthropy to the Philadelphia area which is dedicated to the support of projects that promote the arts, health, education, social change and heritage. Lynne and Harold Honickman spoke about their commitment to paying it forward and edged in a little dig on the soda tax, which is a thorn in everyone’s side, except the mayor’s. MAFTO generously gave $5,000 scholarships to students who currently work for Acme while attending college. They were given in honor of the Honickman Family. Recipients were: Bradley Muller, Patterson University; Hannah Prada, Eastern Connecticut State University; and Mary Beth Giantonio, West Chester University graduate school.  In addition to those scholarships, MAFTO gave $5,000 scholarships to the following worthy college students: Lindsay Rock, Penn State; Mollie Mullen, University of Delaware; Thomas McNicholas, St. Joe’s; Callie Deola, Scranton University; Emma Patragnoni, St. Joe’s; and Lily Schlosky, Rowan College. Congratulations to Jim Perkins and the Honickman Family for their continuing commitment to paying it forward and to MAFTO for a fun-filled weekend!

The consensus about our market is that it is overstored. With what’s been happening in the past month or so, that may not be so. Redner’s Fresh Market added a new store (formerly a Genuardi’s) in Audubon, PA. Giant Food Stores added a ground-up store in East Stroudsburg, PA, two new stores in Columbia and Quarryville as part of the Musser’s Markets transaction, and an Heirloom Market (with a very cool space called The Underground on the lower level) in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. Weis Markets also opened a new ground-up store in Bedminster Twp., Bucks County, in what had been called a food desert, and completed renovations in two Central PA stores in York and Huntingdon. On top of that, Acme just unveiled a total renovation of its Thorndale, PA store where the 2019 holiday walk about took place in late October and the corporate team from Boise flew in to check things out. There’s more coming in 2020 with another Heirloom Market, and Sprouts Farmers Markets adding to their footprint plus numerous retailer revamps scheduled. The chess pieces are moving, and with Giant recently being named the official supermarket of the Philadelphia 76ers, who knows what’s coming next.

For the past 14 years, Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) Academy of Food Marketing (AFM) has presented the Food Industry Summit to food industry members on SJU’s campus. Some years have been better than others; this year’s summit was excellent, with knowledgeable speakers, relevant topics, and an eager audience. It was the perfect combination for a successful event. There was a good mix of attendees with a few regional retailers in attendance as well. The speakers were passionate about their topics and kept the audience’s attention. No snoozing through this day. Kudos to Joe Bivona and Alison Nolan of SJU for putting together an informative event. If you couldn’t make it to the FIS this year, SJU has made the presentations available on their website. To view them, go to

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https://sites.sju.edu/foodindustrysummit/speakers/. SJU/AFM has scheduled its second annual International Food Summit for March 11, 2020 with the theme “Tastes and Trends…Making Northern Mediterranean Local.” My mouth is already watering!

Close to 24,000 attendees from nearly 70 countries attended the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) 50th anniversary Fresh Summit Convention and Expo in Anaheim, CA in mid-October. There were more than 1,200 exhibiting companies represented, with 250 participants in the Fresh Ideas Showcase in categories including food waste innovation, on the go, certified organics and floral. For the first time, the show floor was segmented to supposedly make it easier for buyers to find suppliers, which got mixed reviews. Another first this year was segmented badges on which buyers identified which segments they purchase from, and buyer badges were color coded accordingly, which was helpful. Also, the Women’s Fresh Perspectives Breakfast was sold out at 825 attendees. As they have done in past years, the Fresh Summit exhibitors donated more than 200,000 pounds of fresh produce to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, CA. Second Harvest serves more than 250,000 hungry children, seniors and families each month. Food bank volunteers collected the fresh produce directly from the show floor at the Anaheim Convention Center. “Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County truly appreciates the partnership and support of the Produce Marketing Association and the produce industry, collaborating to achieve one of the largest produce rescue operations in our food bank’s history. It was amazing for our team to see 24 trucks rolling in with a total of 576 pallets that we distributed to our 300-plus community partners—who then provided it to those who need it most—in record time!” said Harald Herrmann, CEO of Second Harvest. A member of Feeding America’s nationwide hunger-relief network, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County is the largest nonprofit hunger relief organization in Orange County. Since 1983, PMA has worked with food banks in Fresh Summit host cities to help exhibitors donate fresh produce to communities in need. This gift usually amounts to the largest fresh produce donation these food banks receive all year. In the last 14 years alone, PMA has facilitated post-Fresh Summit donations of more than four million pounds of fresh produce. Some years, donations have been diverted to communities experiencing exceptional need. Such was the case in 2017 when donations were also sent to Houston and Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma and again in 2018 when a portion of the donation was sent to communities in the Florida Panhandle recovering from Hurricane Michael. Job well done, PMA! Next year, Dallas will host the expo October 15-17. See y’all then!

Birthday shout outs for the grateful month of November go to: Gary Michael Redner, Redner’s; John Saidnawey, JOH; Jim Mullen, Giant/Martin’s; Mike Mackin, Schmidt Baking; Mike Marano, Force One; Anthony Maglio Jr., Maglio Sausage; and Bernie Ellis, retired industry veteran. Buon compleanno a tutti with special 100th birthday wishes to John Vena Inc. Here’s to another cent’anni!

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As we gather with family and friends to celebrate this uniquely American holiday, please

remember those who are without the means to put a Thanksgiving dinner on their tables and say a prayer for our troops at home and abroad who continue to sacrifice every day for our way of life. Happy Thanksgiving!

Quote of the month: “Our personal belief at the end of the day is that we are here to take care of one another.” Lynne Honickman