Happy 2018 from the Food Trade News team! This year brings a milestone to Best-Met Publishing…we’re celebrating our 40th birthday! So, we’re kicking the year off with hoopla, confetti, and some vintage photos we’ve found (what did you look like 40 years ago?) as we work our way to April and the special retro-section birthday edition of Food Trade News and our sister publication Food World!
At the beginning of each year I usually tell our readers that the year ahead looks volatile and to hold on because it’s going to be a rough ride. From what I can tell, 2018 isn’t going to be much different. Startup manufacturers are being scooped up by the big CPGs because hey, if you can’t figure out how to make it, just buy a company that already does. No fuss. Meal kit companies, retailers and mass merchandisers are vying for their share of the market and then there are the Millennials who fall into no category except their own. In fact, they are redefining “category.” But what about food trends, where are they going? According to the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel, here are some of what they believe will be hot trends in 2018: Plant-based foods – for those of us looking for meat protein replacements with algae gaining wider acceptance. Upcycled products made of ingredients and scraps that would have otherwise been discarded. There’s a terrific documentary on Nexflix, “Theater of Life,” about Italian chef Massimo Bottura’s soup kitchen project created during the run up to the Milan Expo in 2015. Bottura’s soup kitchen is unique in that it uses food waste to prepare high-end meals. It’s a must see. This leads into another trend – root to stem. Following upcycled products comes root to stem, utilizing the entire fruit or vegetable (even stems and seeds) thereby reducing food waste. Everyone seems to be looking for an alternative to sugar, including the sugar companies themselves. Hence, the newly named alt-sweet trend. Consumers are looking for lower glycemic impact foods and fewer added-sugar calories. Syrups made from dates, sorghum, and other plant sources will join monk fruit on the market as emerging options for sweet. Product labeling 2.0 – GMO transparency is among the highest priority, but shoppers want new depths of information across the spectrum, including Fair Trade certification, responsible production, and no animal testing. And we end with the most certain of all trends, cannabis cuisine. As more states legalize recreational marijuana, the varieties of pot-enhanced foods and beverages are increasing. Look out for continued interest and acceptance in a host of sweet and salty snacks infused with a little something extra. In fact, since January 1 when California began selling recreational marijuana, fast food retailer Jack in the Box has introduced a “munchy meal” for, you guessed it, $4.20.
The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) hosted its fifth annual holiday party at Buona Sera Ristorante in Red Bank on December 7, raising more than $15,000 for the NJFC Educational Scholarship Foundation. The holiday networking event, hosted by the board of directors, was attended by more than 130 food industry executives from around the state. Linda Doherty, president of the NJFC stated, “The holiday celebration is a great networking event which also ties into our mission to invest in the future of the food industry. Our scholarship winners are a shining example of the youth of today and their goals to succeed in today’s competitive business climate.” NJFC is proud of its growing and robust scholarship program, begun just six years ago. At that time, the board awarded three scholarships of $2,000 each to associates and family members of NJFC member companies. Over the last few years, that investment has grown exponentially with the scholarships growing to $5,000 each, while also administering numerous scholarships on behalf of board members and member companies. In early 2017, NJFC and its members awarded 20 scholarships totaling $67,000. The NJFC is the Garden State’s preeminent trade association representing 1,200 retail food stores, wholesalers, manufacturing and service companies that collectively employ more than 200,000 associates in NJ. For more information, go to www.njfoodcouncil.org.
The Daily Meal, a website dedicated to food and drink, has once again named Giant Food Stores the best grocery store in Pennsylvania for 2018. Giant also received this honor in 2016. To compile the state-by-state rankings, The Daily Meal looked at online reviews, local polls, social media posts and check-ins. Informal polls were also conducted with locals to find out more about product quality, customer service, pricing and store cleanliness. “We are both thrilled and humbled by this recognition from the Daily Meal, but the real credit belongs to our amazing team of associates who deliver for our customers every day,” said Nicholas Bertram, Giant/Martin’s president. “For 95 years we’ve helped bring families, friends, and communities together around the table with fresh, quality products found at our many neighborhood stores or delivered right to their doorstep.” Giant’s commitment to quality and freshness began in 1923 when David Javitch opened the Carlisle Meat Market. Nearly 100 years later, Giant is still connected to its fresh purveyor roots, bringing shoppers the best local products including farm-fresh favorites and their own Nature’s Promise organic and free from meat products. Charitable giving is also a big part of Giant’s history. Long before it was considered trendy, Giant established long-lasting relationships with its community food banks and children’s hospitals. That’s why Giant is a 35-year partner with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and is considered a “hunger hero” at regional food
bank Philabundance, supporting its children’s feeding programs and by donating hundreds of thousands of pounds of perfectly good food, including meat, to agency partners. Giant is also a proud member of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ Miracle Million Club where it is recognized as a 20-year plus Corporate Partner.
The past year was a banner one for Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s “more than just a food bank.” Staffed by 150 employees, Philabundance consistently works toward the mission of driving hunger from our communities with the long term goal of ending hunger forever. More than 15,000 miles per month were driven delivering meals and products to the needy. Fare & Square, the first non-profit supermarket in the country, is still going strong and last year counted approximately 175,000 shoppers passing through its doors. This represents an increase over 2016. Some of the numbers are staggering. Almost two million pounds of fresh, free produce was distributed at nine Philabundance locations in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In addition, 191,000 pounds of food was given to food insecure children in the Delaware Valley. Military families and seniors were also part of the mix with seniors receiving more than 4,400 meal boxes each month. To top it off, more than 250,000 meals were produced and delivered to those in need. Philabundance depends on volunteers to keep costs down. Its more than 16,000 volunteers saved $1 million in salaries, thereby allowing two million meals to go to serve the neediest in our area.
So, what part have you played in this fight to end hunger? Do you know how to be a steward of the food industry and give back? Philabundance welcomes volunteers, food donations, corporate partners and of course, monetary donations as well. Being in the retail food industry gives each of us the responsibility to make sure we don’t let one drop of good food go to waste whenever possible. To donate please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll be glad you did.
Congratulations to Ed Elborne, formerly of Acme Markets, as he flies south to take on the role of regional manager/ business development manager for Mt. Olive Pickle Company. In his new job, Ed will be based in Charlotte, NC. Good luck, Eddie!
Howard Dorman has been named the national sector leader of the Mazars USA Food & Beverage Group, succeeding Louis Biscotti as of January 1. He plans to continue to add value not only to current food and beverage clients, but would like to contribute to the success of the food and beverage industry in those markets in which Mazars is currently involved and in new markets as they continue to expand their footprint. Congrats!
Get well wishes go out to Jay Gordon of Sales Management Partners. Jay took a tumble and broke his neck. After some initial numbness, he is on the mend. Best wishes for a quick recovery, Jay. Keep an eye out for a special delivery from Ben & Irv’s!
The circle of life continues as we learned of the death of George Griffin who passed away on January 3 at the age of 88. During his long career in the food industry, George was president of operations of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. and senior VP of sales and marketing for Dietz & Watson until his retirement. Predeceased by his beloved wife Mary Ellen, George is survived by his children Bob Griffin (Barb), Karen Astheimer (Bob), Colleen Hartley (Rich), Chrissy Erickson (Phil) and Kathy Hendricks (Brett); 10 grandchildren; and eight great grandchildren. The family has requested that contributions in memory of George be made to Grand View Hospice at www.gvh.org/online-donations. Rest in peace, George.
Birthday shout outs for the frigid month of January go to: Linda Doherty, NJFC; Eve Gigis, Acme Markets; Ruth “Momma Dietz” Eni, Dietz and Watson; Gary Larkin, Paul G. Nester and Co.; David Patragnoni, Wellshire Farms; George Latella, Saint Joseph’s University; Tim Musgrove, Herr Foods; Joe Stewart, Specialty Fabricators; Karen Fernandez, Food World; and FTN alumni Meg Major, Bob Ingram and Scott Lichterman. Buon compleanno a tutti!
Quote of the month: “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis