Soup To Nutz

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The summer of 2013 is now on the books, and for the retail food industry it was busier than usual. As we ease into Fall, Harris Teeter has been sold, A&P and its affiliated companies are on the chopping block, The Fresh Grocer became the 50th member of the Wakefern co-op and Acme is working hard to make a comeback. Whew!

The Kenny Family opened its sixth store in Glasgow, DE on August 25.  Local politicians, dignitaries and community leaders attended the ribbon cutting and preview party on August 22. Delaware’s lieutenant governor told the attendees that the Kenny family gives back to the community and how thrilled they are to have them in Glasgow. The new 73,000 square foot ShopRite adds an additional 250 jobs to the Glasgow community. This store has all the services that ShopRite customers have come to expect including: a fresh bake shop, fresh meat cut to order, a floral department and fresh seafood delivered daily, as well as a broad selection of natural and organic products in every department. As in the other Kenny ShopRites, the Glasgow store offers customers a hot buffet bar, as well as a wide variety of freshly prepared entrées and gourmet delicacies, including fresh-baked pizza, fresh-made sushi, a cold buffet bar, a Mediterranean olive bar and cheeses from around the world. The ShopRite of Four Seasons Plaza has an in-store café, and a full-service catering department. The new store will also offer customers the convenience of online shopping with ShopRite From Home. The Kenny family also has plans to add an in-store registered dietitian to its team to assist customers in choosing healthy foods for their families. There are more than 60 in-store registered dieticians in ShopRite stores and plans are to add more. The ShopRite of Four Seasons Plaza was built with the latest energy-saving and sustainable technologies in refrigeration and lighting, including glass doors on the dairy and freezer cases, LED and T-8 lighting and environmentally-friendly refrigerant systems. “We are very excited to extend our service to our Newark neighbors with the opening of our newest store in Glasgow,” said Chris Kenny, president of Delaware Supermarkets. “The new ShopRite of Four Seasons Plaza will represent the traditional low prices and outstanding services that ShopRite has always been famous for and we look forward to continuing to have a positive impact on the community.”

Weis Markets conquered some new territory this past month when they opened the doors to the newest store on Route 206 in the Hillsborough Promenade shopping center in Hillsborough, NJ in between a Village ShopRite also in Hillsborough and a Saker Shoprite in Somerville. The location was formerly home to a Pathmark. Weis said it invested $7 million in the new supermarket that employs 250 full and part-time workers. The 55,200-square foot store features an expansive produce department with more than 700 varieties of fresh produce, including organic and ethnic products. The store also features an in-store pizza kitchen, a meat department offering hand cut choice Black Angus beef, a seafood department featuring sustainably harvested fish fillets and a full service pharmacy. It also offers online shopping. The store also has advanced refrigeration and climate control technologies designed to lessen its impact on the environment and global warming. These technologies will reduce the store’s refrigerant usage by 60 percent compared to a conventional supermarket. As a result, it is expected to achieve the U.S. EPA’s GreenChill Gold-Level Certification. The parking lot was packed early Sunday morning for the opening. Inside, customers were ogling at the many updates made by Weis.  Produce VP Dan Koch said customers came up to him in the store and said the store was “clean, bright and airy”. As an update, the store is apparently “going like gangbusters” and that has everyone at Weis smiling. “This is our fourth location in New Jersey and we’re excited to offer customers a friendly and inviting shopping experience featuring outstanding fresh departments and excellent variety in every department,” Kurt Schertle, executive vice president, sales and merchandising for Weis Markets, said. “We strongly believe in giving back to the communities we serve and look forward to becoming an active member of the Hillsborough community.” Indeed, during the grand opening ceremony Weis donated a combined $15,000 to local community organizations.

Dietz & Watson has entered the Chicago market and as they have teamed up with the Northern Illinois Food Bank with a promotion at Jewel Osco. Through September 13, for every one pound of D&W deli meats or cheeses purchased at Jewel Osco stores, a half-pound was donated to the food bank, toward the goal of 20,000 pounds donated. “We believe in good food and good people,” said Ruth “Momma Dietz” Eni, company chairman. “We’re not a faceless corporation writing a check and walking away. We’re a family company. We believe in deeper bonds.” Speaking of deeper bonds, the entire food industry community from retailers to manufacturers made the call to help the Dietz & Watson family when their distribution facility in Delanco, NJ caught fire over Labor Day weekend. Just before we went to press, I spoke with Steve Riley, marketing director, for an update. “Right now the focus is on getting Delanco cleaned up. More than eight million pounds of meat were destroyed in the fire and the neighbors are speaking up about the odor. In fact, the company has taken steps to relieve the burnt meat smell by hiring BioTriad Environmental to implement an aggressive odor-control plan. “Our cleanup crews have been working tirelessly, removing more than 300 truckloads of spoiled meat and debris from the site for more than a week now,” said CEO Louis Eni. “And though that process is moving more quickly than ever, it has become clear that we must provide some relief to the families who live in close proximity to the fire site. That is why we have contracted with odor-control experts to deal with this unpleasant reality that is significantly impacting the quality of life for many people.” “Production is catching up and our customers have been very patient with us,” said Riley. He added that no progress has been made on finding a replacement location for Delanco. Again, the most positive outcome is that no one was injured in the blaze.

The next application deadline for the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) scholarship program is October 1.  The IDDBA offers scholarships to employees of IDDBA-member companies in amounts ranging from $100 to $1,000 for college or vocational/technical school students in business, marketing, or food-related fields of study. There are four application deadlines each year: January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1. More information and an online or printable application are available at www.iddba.org/scholarships.

Happy 100th Birthday to Mallomars! The first Mallomars were first sold in West Hoboken, NJ, in 1913. Parent company Nabisco, now part of Mondelez, the company formerly known as Kraft, begins making the cookies every year in late August and ships after Labor Day, when the weather is cooler and more favorable for this regional favorite. The bright yellow boxes disappear in April and hibernate until late summer. This seasonal cookie is made with a graham a cracker base, topped with a marshmallow filling, and coated with chocolate. Kind of sounds like a s’more, right? Well, it is, technically, but the dark chocolate is on the outside, not inside the graham cracker. This year is also the Moon Pie’s 100th birthday, but they’re more prevalent in the South, while we Yankees prefer the Mallomars. Either way, this traditional favorite is part of our seasonal traditions, and not likely to go away any time soon.

On September 5, my daughter Rosalie and I schlepped to the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ to see the divine Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Of course, we had to go early to get a bite to eat at Buona Sera Restaurant before the show. It was fabulous, as always. Ina Garten’s is an unlikely success story which should serve as inspiration to anyone who is thinking about changing directions, career paths, etc. Unbeknown to most, Ina was a White House nuclear policy analyst under the Ford and Carter administrations. Her love of cooking blossomed during a four month camping trip in France with her husband, Jeffrey back in the late 1960s. Even though she was good at what she did, her heart was tugging at her to get in the kitchen. On a whim, she purchased the Barefoot Contessa, a specialty food shop in West Hampton Beach, NY, and the rest is history. Ina offers what I call “simple food” and she has brought that clean cooking to the general public with her frozen retail line, Barefoot Contessa, which made its debut earlier this year. The take aways from this entertaining and informative discussion/Q&A event with her were: measure every ingredient in the recipe so it comes out the same way every time; anything is possible in life, go with your gut feeling and don’t wait for something to happen to you, make it happen. Words of wisdom for us all.

The social schedule for the fall is heating up, and one “not to be missed” event is the  MAFTO dinner dance honoring Giant Carlisle president Rick Herring the weekend of November 1 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. The Eagles tribute band, 7 Bridges Band will rock the house Saturday night in honor of Rick. The weekend will be packed with food, fun, gambling, karaoke and dancing…and more food! For more information go to www.mafto.org .

I am honored to be moderating the first annual WeiserMazars’ Pennsylvania Food & Beverage Forum.  This forum is a C-level, invitation only best practices summit that has attracted hundreds of c-level industry executives in Long Island, New York for the past ten years and is now being held annually in New Jersey and Pennyslvania as well. The forum is will be held on October 29.  Additional information about the event is at www.weisermazars.com/industries/food-beverage.

A tip of the hat to DiBruno Brothers employees Rocco Rainone, Amanda Bernhardt, Hunter Fike, Richard-Luis Morillo and Matt Shankle, who were among the 2013 class of American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professionals. They were part of a class of 132 cheese mavens who passed the second Annual Certified Cheese Professional Exam, held in late summer in Madison, WI. Congrats!

Birthday shout outs for the month of September go to: Ed Elborne, Acme Markets; Fran Dolan, Herr Foods; Nate Ostroff, Network Food Brokers; Joe Gardyan, Utz Snacks; Bob Higgins, SJU; Joe Seiler, retired Campbell’s and many happy birthday wishes for my mom, Rosalie Maggio, who inspires me to be a better person everyday. Buon compleanno a tutti! Celebrating marital bliss this month are Elaine and Dick Redner, Redner’s Markets; Jeff and Elaine Bilk, Burris; and Mike and Jessi Scaduto Riley, Food Circus Supermarkets. Happy anniversary!

Quote of the month: “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this…you haven’t.” Thomas Edison

Maria can be reached at: mmaggio@best-met.com or on Twitter: @mariamaggio137