Soup to Nutz

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It’s stupendous! It’s colossal! It’s here! Welcome to the 35th annual Food Trade News market study. The numbers have been crunched, munched and digested; the final results are going to astound! Once again, the retail landscape in our market has changed as a long-revered chain has disappeared from view. In addition, we have expanded our footprint and for the first time we have added the stats for the Metro New York market as well as our usual New Jersey and Pennsylvania statistics. Still the definitive word in the retail food industry, Food Trade News and Food World remain the go to publications whenever expert opinion is required. Our publisher and fearless leader Jeff Metzger is quoted around the country and his opinions and insights on the industry are regularly sought after. His ability to remember every detail of every retail story from the past 35 years still amazes me as does his tireless push to give our readers the best he has to offer. As in each issue, it takes the efforts of every member of our team to produce our publications. The market study takes it to another level and our team deserves many thanks. I think I have said thank you to Terri Maloney, our VP-editorial, hundreds of times over the last five years but it’s never enough. Terri never fails to deliver and keeps all of us on track to produce a publication we’re proud of each and every month. Many thanks to our digital native, Karen Fernandez, director of marketing, who spearheaded the new look we premiered earlier this year and has fully entrenched us in the 21st century with both Facebook and Twitter accounts and a shiny new website where our readers can find us anytime from anyplace. Karen also makes sure our advertisers are represented in a way that keeps them coming back year after year. In November Kevin Gallagher joined us and he has been diligently working the Metro NY market ever since. You are a welcome addition to the team; you balance us and bring a new perspective to Food Trade News. Thanks to Matt Danielson and Jenny Jones at Eink who do the graphics for both publications. Their collective keen eye for translating what we want onto the page makes everyone’s job easier. To Beth Pripstein, our office manager, a thank you for adding the new readers to the Food Trade News subscription list I collect every time I am on the road (which is often). I send a big shout-out to our chairman emeritus Dick Bestany for his continued enthusiasm for the business and for his invaluable counsel. And finally to you our readers and advertisers, a grateful nod for your continued support on this market study and every one of the issues we publish each year. With this issue in particular we compile the data you need to know to make your business and marketing plans for the 70 county Food Trade News market. Mille grazie!

And the word of the year is…”NoMoPhobia”! Carol Christison once again wowed the crowd at the 49th International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) Foodie All Stars seminar and expo in Orlando earlier this month with her creative vocabulary and witty assessment of the current trends in the food industry. What is NoMoPhobia? It’s that panicky feeling one gets when one doesn’t have/can’t find one’s mobile phone. Considering that we do most everything from talking (but really who DOES talk anymore?) to banking to documenting our lives on our smartphones, just the thought of losing our phones can evoke panic! Carol also identified key shopper trends, including an emphasis on value, shoppers gaining confidence in their online shopping experience and an enthusiasm for peer influence, from social media, no doubt. She also talked about “upcycling” which makes new uses for old things and gave the example of what Whole Foods does with blemished fruit. They cut it up and re-sell it as ready to eat. This now accounts for 15 percent of their produce sales. Easy, right? For all the highlights from her speech, go to  More than 8,500 visitors walked the floor visiting 1600-plus booths. The IDDBA celebrates its 50th show in 2014 in Denver. Mark your calendars now. It’s going to be fabulous!

You all know about my not-so-secret obsession with reusable bags for everything from food to office supplies. I thought I had seen everything, but in the generously provided goodie bag at the re-opening of Ron Murphy’s Beach Haven, NJ store, I found reusable produce bags from 3B Bags. What a find! So, off to the market I went with my bags in tow. The 3B Bags’ website says (and I believe): “The average American uses between 300-500 plastic bags a year, for an average of 12 minutes, before throwing them out. That adds up to 100-150 BILLION plastic bags used last year in the United States alone! The consumption rate of our plastic bag addiction is estimated at well more than 500 trillion plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute. Four out of five grocery bags in the U.S. are now plastic. (That may change with Los Angeles now banning plastic grocery bags). The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store. Only 6.8 percent of municipal plastic waste gets recycled in the U.S, while 63 pounds of plastic packaging goes into landfills in the U.S. per person per year. The 3B Bags packaging says “reuse once a week and reduce as many as 150 plastic bags per year – a sustainable way to bring your produce home.” And they’re washable; either by hand or machine and it won’t affect the tear weight of the produce they’re carrying. I’m a believer.

One retail chain committed to increasing the use of reusable bags is ShopRite. In collaboration with General Mills, they unveiled the grand prize winner of the “Designed to Fight Hunger” reusable bag design contest earlier this month at the ShopRite of Williamstown, NJ. In addition to having her unique design available on reusable bags in all 250 ShopRite locations, winner and Williamstown resident Katrice Sylvester also received a prize of $2,500, as well as a matching $2,500 donation to the Food Bank of South Jersey. Ms. Sylvester is a senior at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey studying graphic design. She entered the contest as a school assignment. “I have seen the effects of hunger firsthand and it is an issue that is very close to my heart,” said Ms. Sylvester. “I am so honored to be a part of this fight against hunger and it is my hope that this design speaks to the issue while motivating others to get out there and make a difference in the community.” To support its year-round, hunger-fighting initiative, ShopRite challenged up-and-coming artists to create original designs that could be featured on a reusable shopping bag to raise awareness of the issue of hunger. At the unveiling, customers were encouraged to bring a canned food item to donate to the Food Bank of South Jersey.

The retailers in our marketing area do so much to fight hunger that many of us don’t know about, especially when it comes to fresh produce. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) made a donation of 46,200 pounds of apples to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey to help feed the hungry in the local community. This donation represents the culmination of A&P’s participation in the Take a Bite Out of Hunger program sponsored by First Fruits Marketing of Washington. First Fruits Marketing of Washington created The Take a Bite out of Hunger campaign to help feed the underserved while bringing attention to the problem of food insecurity in the United States. This is the third year they have partnered with local retailers such as A&P to make donations to local food banks around the United States. “Take a Bite Out of Hunger is a great way to provide fresh produce to our food bank,” said Eric Beelitz, director of produce at A&P. “This program provides tangible help to those in need, and providing the donation in the area where we work and live helps support our community.” Hunger isn’t just about being hungry. It’s about food insecurity, or not having regular access to safe, affordable and nutritious foods. In 2010, 15 percent of all U.S. households were food-insecure. Of those, 33 percent were children, 96 percent reported that the food they bought just did not last and they did not have money to get more, and 94 percent reported that they could not afford to eat balanced meals. This year seven retailers have joined the Take A Bite Out of Hunger effort, with 250,000 pounds of apples accrued for donation to local food banks throughout the United States.

Customers and associates at Giant/Carlisle and Martin’s have generously showed their support for men and women in the Armed Forces by donating $517,535 through the retailer’s annual Support Our Troops campaign. The in-store fundraiser benefits regional USOs throughout the company’s operating area as well as the Wounded Warriors Project. “Thanks to our customers and associates, we continue to assist the brave men and women who serve our country daily. Due to the outstanding work of our regional USOs and the Wounded Warrior Project, our troops are able to stay connected to their families and receive needed care if they are injured,” said Rick Herring, president of Giant/Carlisle. The Wounded Warriors Project enlists the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service members, helps severely injured men and women aid and assist each other, and provides unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. Since the inception of Support Our Troops in 2005, Giant/Carlisle and Martin’s customers have donated more than $2.3 million. In addition to financial support, the retailer also reaches out several times a year to the family members of associates who are serving overseas by sending care packages of toiletries, sweets, beverage mixes, soups and microwaveable meals.

And last month, Giant/Carlisle announced a $3 million donation to 2,868 public and private schools through its A+ School Rewards program for the 2012-2013 school year. Since the program launched in 2005, more than $16 million has been donated to local schools throughout participating markets in the four states Giant/Carlisle and Martin’s operate stores. The  A+ School Rewards program allows local schools to earn cash for technology, scholarships, school programs, field trips, playgrounds, and other educational needs. “Thank you to all of our customers and schools who once again helped to make this year’s A+ School Rewards program a great success,” said Herring. GovernorWolfElementary School in Bethlehem, PA was the top earning school this year, at $21,413.55. Congratulations!