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.

Welcome to the holiday season! I do hope everyone is taking a little time to spend quality moments with loved ones and friends and enjoy everything that makes this time of year special.

Speaking of enjoying the season, for the second consecutive year, RDD Associates and Village Super Markets held a Holiday reception at Bin 37 in Cedar Knolls, NJ. Bin 37 is attached to Village’s ShopRite of Greater Morristown store and is quickly becoming a favorite restaurant/bar in the area. It has rustic charm, oversized booths and large flat screen TVs throughout the space. The name of the establishment comes from BIN-which derives from a winery bin, which refers to the labeling wineries have used to ensure customers can easily identify a bottle they like and purchase it again. The 37 pays homage to the Village family of businesses, as it was in 1937 that Nick and Perry Sumas opened the first Village Supermarket. Bin 37 also is home to the Village Food Garden (VFG) Culinary Center where guests can enjoy hands-on cooking classes with certified chefs, as well as tasting menus and pairings. While the atmosphere was certainly festive, the big news announced during the evening was that the Sumas Family Foundation has officially become a 501(c)(3) organization. Perry Blatt of Village Supermarket was happy to share the news with the crowd and stated that although the Village and Sumas family has always been extremely charitable and altruistic, securing the 501(c)(3) status will enhance the company’s efforts moving forward. He cited four charities that will initially benefit from the fundraising event, Autism Speaks, NJ Sharing Network, Connie Dwyer Breast Cancer Foundation and The Greek Church. Furthermore he stated, “We are proud of the fact that Village Supermarket has been giving back to the community for over eighty years. Our founders, Nick and Perry always taught us the important role our supermarkets play for a healthy community. We look forward to continuing that legacy for many years to come.” Well done by all at RDD and Village Supermarket!

Some personnel moves around the market: Congratulations to Ray Aguila who has joined Pan American Coffee Company as a key account manager out of the company’s Hoboken offices. Ray is a stellar industry veteran in the Latino products arena and will certainly bring his wealth of experience to Pan American and their portfolio of products, Café Aroma, Café El Morro, Café El Coqui and Café Caracolillo. Good luck Ray! And good luck to Dan McKenna, who has joined Wild Fare as a business manager. Dan brings an extensive background of sales management from Smithfield and ConAgra to the new company which will enter the retail arena with a fresh take on the world’s healthiest snacks and staples. Wild fare partners with farmers across the globe to bring the most vibrant flavors and healthiest ingredients to market with items like dried fruits, nut butters, olive oil, herbs & spices, pasta sauces and olives. Good luck, Dan. And finally, congratulations are in order for Trevor Smith, who has been named president of Tower Isles Frozen Foods. Trevor is just the third president in the company’s 51 year history. Originally founded by Beryl and Earl Levi in 1968 as a small family bakery in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Seven years later, Patrick Jolly tool over the reins at the company and successfully lead Tower Isles for 44 years to what is now one of the largest frozen food and patty making companies in the world. Trevor joined the company in 1995 and has played a significant role in the development of the company. In his capacity as sales manager and chief marketing officer, he helped develop the company’s marketing strategy and community activities, while becoming a force in the Caribbean-American community.

Advertisement

A tip of the hat to all at the Eastern Produce Council (EPC) and all at the New York Produce Show on another terrific event. By all accounts the 10th annual show and conference held at the New York Hilton and Jacob K. Javits center delivered on all fronts. Consumer trends, new items, Customers and vendors all converged for what has become a must-do industry event.

And, while handing out accolades, everyone involved with the New Jersey Food Council’s 50th anniversary celebration and reunion held at the Park Chateau Estate & Gardens in East Brunswick deserves recognition. This was a tremendous undertaking, and everything seemed to come together for a wonderful evening with industry executives as well as fond memories of the five decades of accomplishments the NJFC has delivered. Kudos to Linda Doherty and everyone involved!

We received a note from retired friend Mike Laverty (formerly with Jones Dairy Farm and Kraft Foods and now running a consulting agency for CPG companies SOAR Solutions), who wanted to remind us that he once again is getting ready for the annual Polar Bear Plunge to benefit Special Olympics on February 22. This is Mike’s 17th straight year of doing the plunge and he continues to do it with good reason as two of his three children were born with developmental disabilities. Well rather than me going on I’ll just let Mike tell you about it in his own words:  “I’ve plunged for Special Olympics since 2004. I got started because I have two developmentally and disabled children of my own – Tim is now 37, and Laura is 30. When they were young they were able to participate in some local Special Olympics events. Unfortunately, their physical limitations now prevent them from being part of this wonderful organization. In fact, it looks as though there’s a good chance they will be moving into a group home before I even stick my toes in the 37-degree Atlantic Ocean on February 22, 2020. For the past 16 years, your generosity has touched me like you can never imagine. You have helped me to reach supporters in all 50 states, and I’ve even received donations from another three countries – Canada, Bermuda and Namibia (South Africa). Your friendship and support for this cause is absolutely humbling, and I’ll never be able to thank you enough. The 2020 Plunge will likely be my last, so I’ve set an aggressive personal fundraising goal of $36,500. If I’m able to achieve that goal, my 17-year total will surpass $500,000. And, it would also be my highest total since 2014, so it’s most certainly a stretch. A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS! What an achievement that would be for ALL of us, because I could never have done this alone. More importantly, think of the out-pouring of love and support we have provided for such a deserving group of individuals. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” For anyone looking to support Mike and help him reach his goal, you can go to https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/2437635 or you can send a check payable to Special Olympics NJ to Mike Laverty at 145 Clipper Drive, Ocean City, NJ 08826. Good luck, Mike!!

Advertisement

Finally, I want to extend a note of thanks to the many, many of you who reached out to me with cards and words of condolence on the passing of my mother a few weeks ago. It truly meant the world to me. I also take this time to wish everyone the very best for a happy and healthy holiday season to all of you and your families. In the spirit of the holidays, I thank you all for your readership, business, friendship and making this industry a great one. All the best for the New Year and may 2020 bring you all the best in possibilities, happiness and prosperity. As always you can reach me at 201.250.2217 or kevin@foodtradenews.com.