Metro Beat

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Hello everyone and welcome to spring……..or so we hope. It’s been one of the craziest winter/spring periods in a while and I can’t wait for some normalcy in the weather.

We heard that Goya Foods has introduced the “Better for You” product line, encompassing its current product portfolio as well as many new items. The line consists of more than 300 products with 40-plus varieties of low-sodium and organic beans, organic olive oil, organic rice, brown rice, quinoa, chia, amaranth, frozen vegetables, fruits, coconut water, diet beverages and low-sodium condiments.

“For over 80 years, we have always produced high-quality, authentic Latin products,” said Joe Perez, SVP of Jersey City, NJ-based Goya Foods. “The creation of our ‘Better for You’ product line allows us to improve marketing of our current line and add even more products that cater to consumer demands for healthier options. Consumers are smarter, and buying trends are changing. We’re listening and taking action in providing even more nutritious products because we care about the overall well-being of our consumers.” In 2012, Goya teamed up with the USDA and then First Lady Michelle Obama to promote the MyPlate/MiPlato campaign among Hispanic and general-market consumers, as well as with then-New York City’s low salt initiative. Both initiatives have enabled the company to grow and market its product portfolio and provide tools and education for consumers.

Unfortunately, we are once again saddened to pass along some horrible news. Mike Turner, vice president sales at Associated Stores Group (ASG) passed away suddenly on May 13 at the age of 51. This comes on the heels of one of Mike’s best friends John Coppola, who passed away in February. Mike started his career in the food industry as a salesman with the old Dorman Roth Cheese Company. From there he was scooped up by the H.C. Boerner company and became one of the company’s best salesmen over a period of time. After Boerner, Mike took a position with Royal Foods (a former perishables distributor) which was then acquired by White Rose. Most of you in the industry remember Mike from his many years at White Rose where he was the sales manager and constantly out in the field, fraternizing with customers, competitors and vendors on a daily basis. When the AWI/White Rose bankruptcy was finalized, Mike joined ASG where he was a key contributor. I will certainly miss Mike for his endless and youthful energy and his ability to always look for a laugh. But I will also remember him fondly for other little things. For example, for nearly 15 years running, Mike had a little inside joke that whenever he was in a group picture with some of his former colleagues he would always ask for a “countdown.” Most folks would think that was so he could smile big and wide. Not true, Mike asked for it so that when the count of “three” came around he would rise up on his tiptoes to gain a couple of inches in height. He would then wait for the picture to come out in the paper and point out to all of his colleagues (and anyone else) how he was always the tallest one in the group at White Rose! (just ask Joe Fantozzi.) Mike was a character but he was a real genuine soul. You always knew where you stood with him and he was as loyal as the day is long. He leaves behind his wife Jennifer and children Michael and Alexandra. Rest in eternal peace good friend.

Key Food opened two spectacular stores during the month of May. The first one came in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn when a new Food Emporium debuted on 3rd Avenue. The store is owned by Hajar Elayyan and her family and the extensive renovations put into the store are apparent as soon as you walk in. The location was a former Blockbuster store, so it was truly an entire build out. A gourmet coffee section with whole beans from around the world greets you as you enter the store, and immediately you notice the store décor. A rustic interior design is prevalent throughout and ample staff is on hand for all of the service departments. The highlight during the opening though was a personal tour Hajar gave Dean Janeway and me of the downstairs bakery and commissary that supplies fresh/hot artisan breads and take home foods for the new Food Emporium as well as Hajar’s five other stores throughout the city. Congratulations Hajar and best wishes.

The second Key Food opening was the co-op’s second corporate store which trades under the Food Universe banner. The site,in Bayside, Queens on Francis Lewis Boulevard, was formerly a Waldbaum’s location that Key acquired at the A&P bankruptcy auction. I hadn’t been in that particular Waldbaum’s in 10 years, and all I can say is WOW! The former Waldbaum’s was in serious disrepair. I was told that even in the recent year since the Tea Company bankruptcy there were huge holes in the floor and extensive structural damage. A tip of the hat to George Zadima and retail operations Manager Kathryn Berliner, Key Food, for working tirelessly for months with the Key Food team in putting together a gem of a store. K.C. Kilgannon will be the Food Universe store manager.

Speaking of Key Food, we hope you take some time to peruse the 108-page special section celebrating the co-op’s 80th anniversary that is included in this issue. The company has a great story to tell and this special section is chock full of information about the folks at Key and the great services they provide. Kudos to Michele Gissi, Key Food’s integrated marketing and PR manager, who spearheaded the project with our editor, Terri Maloney, and worked diligently to ensure its success. Many thanks to the companies that supported this endeavor by advertising.  Happy reading!

Good news came to the Totowa offices of Bob Cignarella and RDD Associates when it was announced that the big perishables sales and marketing agency picked up three new lines for representation. Aurora Products’ line of premium dried fruit, nuts and granola snacks will now be sold by the RDD produce division as will H20 Farms, an innovative new company growing hydroponic lettuces and produce. Finally, joining the RDD portfolio is Suji’s Korean Cuisine, a new product line of Korean inspired foods including ready-to-heat packaged meals as well as many items for foodservice applications and take home foods.

Congratulations to a handful of local food industry women who were recently recognized at the 38th Annual Tribute to Women & Industry, held at The Imperia in Somerset, NJ. The event is presented by the YWCA of Union County and honors women who have made significant contributions to industry in managerial, executive, supervisory and/or professional roles. It also recognizes business entities whose policies and practices encourage and enable high achievement by women. The event was chaired by Wakefern VP Ann Burke and the keynote speaker was Joe Sheridan, president and COO of Wakefern. Recognized at the soiree were: Maria Guarriello, Village Super Markets; Ruth Honauer, Saker ShopRites; Marie Wagner, Brown’s Super Stores; Courtney Fagan, Catherine Magistrelli and Marianne Santo, Wakefern; Lisa Wazenski, Patricia Roselli, Tara Ramsey, Katrina Purifoy and Valerie Love, Johnson & Johnson; Robin Cabanas, Catalina Lee and Ran Dancy Tao, Colgate-Palmolive. Congratulations all!

We’d like to salute Mario D’Ambrosio of C&S Wholesale Grocers, who was tapped as the company’s 2017 volunteer of the year. Mario has worked at C&S since 2012 and is a selector at the wholesaler’s distribution center in Chester, NY. Throughout the past 12 months, Mario has volunteered 1,000 hours for the all-volunteer fire department in his hometown of Matamoras, PA, a community of 2,500 residents. Since 2005, C&S has recognized one person as its volunteer of the year for lending their time, talent, and support to causes they care about in their community and for inspiring others. Mario said, “I had no experience in the firefighting field and was up for something new. Matamoras Fire Department sent me for training and now I am an interior firefighter. It’s dangerous, but I like to help people.” Mario will be personally congratulated by Rick Cohen, chairman and CEO of C&S, and will be featured on the company’s website and intranet. He will also be highlighted in the 2017 edition of the C&S Community Involvement Report. In the month of April, which is National Volunteer Month, teams of employees at the C&S Family of companies volunteered to accomplish more than 30 projects for nonprofit groups, including: serving lunch at a senior center in Enfield, CT; sprucing up a park and trail with the Edison Greenways Group in Edison, New Jersey. In New York volunteers assisted at the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY; and participating and assisting at the March for Babies in Central Valley, NY. And in Massachussetts, C&S employees cleaned up a highway in Hatfield, sorted food at the Merrimack Valley Food Bank in Lowell, collected children’s books for the Parent Community Engagement Center in Springfield and cleaned up the grounds at the Southampton Road School in Westfield. Year-round, C&S encourages employees to volunteer through two programs: Dollars for Doers, which matches employees’ volunteer time with a donation up to 1,000 hours, and Team Up & Make Strides, which supports employees who raise funds and awareness by participating in events for charity. Well done to everyone involved!!!!