Soup To Nutz

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It’s September…again. That means back to school for many. It also means traffic, homework, after school activities and planning family time, which seems more difficult as time goes on. The traditional family dinner has changed in the 21st century. It is no longer a protein, vegetable and starch plate, rather it is a combination of crock pot meals, grab-and-go at the market or pick up at a local restaurant chain or meal kits such as Plated or Blue Apron. Indeed, meals are being prepared and eaten at home at a higher rate than ten years ago, but what’s being prepared and how it’s done has changed drastically. This month in an effort to bring families together for more meals, Giant/Martin’s is supporting the FMI Foundation to launch its Family Meal campaign as part of National Family Meals Month. Created by the FMI Foundation in 2015 on behalf of the nation’s food retailers, the goal of National Family Meals Month is to encourage families to enjoy at least one more meal together per week. Matt Simon, Giant/Martin’s vice president of marketing, said, “We believe that bringing families together around the table strengthens the bonds that make up a healthy community.” Frequent family meals increase self-esteem, a sense of wellbeing, positive social behaviors, and stronger family relationships. Family meals also fuel better nutrition. Families who share three meals a week increase their healthy foods consumption by more than 24 percent according to research gathered by FMI. Throughout the fall, Giant/Martin’s nutritionists are highlighting easy meal solutions in-store and in the community, including ideas for eating healthy on a budget, while inspiring families to bring everyone together for one more family meal. Family meal ideas are featured in the retailer’s weekly circular, while its digital app has personalized meals deals and money-saving coupons. Giant/Martin’s has also been at the community table in the fight against hunger. “With September also being Hunger Action Month, Giant/Martin’s wants to make sure every family has the chance to come together around the table to share a nutritious meal,” added Simon. Through strategic partnerships with local food banks, Giant/Martin’s has proudly donated back over $50 million in monies and product to hunger relief organizations over the last five years. As part of its signature and industry-leading Meat the Needs program, Giant/Martin’s stores safely freeze and donate quality meat which would otherwise go unsold to its regional food bank partners. Bread and other bakery items are also provided to regional food banks to help those most in need. More than one million meals have been diverted from landfills onto the plates of families in need through the Meat the Needs program.

Something new has sprouted in Philadelphia! Yes, Sprouts Farmers Market has arrived in the City of Brotherly Love. Under the supervision of SVP-East Dan Croce and store director Steve Carney, the 32,000 square foot store came to life in a former train shed on South Broad Street near Washington Avenue. The beautifully restored, historically registered train shed once served as a major hub for the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Baltimore Railroad line and was a funeral stop of President Abraham Lincoln after his assassination. The mixed retail and residential development has been named, appropriately, Lincoln Square after our 16th president. This area is quickly gentrifying from a mainly industrial area to a an apartment heavy locale featuring a lot of retail as well as restored (and tax abated) rowhomes now occupied by Millennials and their growing families.

Sprouts, the healthy grocer for the everyday shopper celebrated its 16th year of operation last month and this new location is one of more than 300 stores from sea to shining sea. The Philadelphia store will offer locally made products, including Love Beets. What’s different about Sprouts? For starters, training is intense. Employees are trained to be experts in their departments. There is always someone on hand to answer questions about vitamins or any other product. You won’t find the big names here. Sprouts’ private label product is widespread with many known brands in the healthy lifestyle filling the shelves. Bulk rules. Not just nuts and candy, Sprouts has an endcap of bulk taffy, bulk olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tea, grains and honey. Double dip Wednesdays – where the deals from one week overlap with the deals for the next week for one day only. Pricing is unbelievably affordable. They say it’s healthy food for less, and it is. Shoppers were pleasantly surprised as they shopped during the family and friends night which was held the day before the official opening.

To celebrate the healthy grocer’s entry into the Philadelphia Market, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation made a $20,000 donation to Urban Tree Connection, a local non-profit that works with low-income Philadelphia communities to transform abandoned open spaces into safe and functional places that inspire and promote positive human interaction. The foundation will also donate $2,500 to the Christian Street YMCA in support of its programs that strengthen the community through youth development and healthy living. There were many grand opening day giveaways and grand opening weekend giveaways for the early shoppers.

As part of Sprouts’ commitment to “zero waste,” the Phoenix, AZ based retailer will donate unsold but still edible groceries to Philabundance through its food rescue program. In 2017, Sprouts’ stores and distribution centers donated 23 million pounds of product, equivalent to 19 million meals. Food that is not fit for donation is provided to local cattle farms and composting facilities. Sprouts’ evolving “zero waste” initiatives help minimize food waste while reducing the impact of hunger and the company’s environmental footprint. It looks like this market is going to be a great success, even with Welcome to South Philly, Sprouts…and welcome back Dan!

More news from Giant/Martin’s which announced its Cleona, PA store is the first in the chain to reach zero waste as part of its sustainable retailer commitment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines zero waste as 90 percent or more of a store’s total waste being diverted from a landfill or incineration. “It’s been a total store effort as we set up each department so it’s easy to do the right thing when it comes to lessening our environmental impact,” said Judy Knarr, assistant store manager and green captain for her district. “We have associates across the store who have embraced our recycling efforts and collectively have changed the store’s culture to achieve this goal.” Cleona associates have been incorporating recycling procedures throughout the store as well as carefully monitoring what is sent to the store’s trash compactor so nothing gets thrown away that could potentially be recycled. This includes ensuring no cardboard is labeled as garbage, filling designated bins with food waste and scraps for organic recycling, and collecting plastic bags, plastic film, and empty pharmacy pill bottles to be sent back to Giant/Martin’s recycling center. This labor of love for the planet began in earnest when, in 2012, the company put a spotlight on best practices to reduce waste within stores. Not only are the Cleona associates motivated, so are the customers. “There are a lot of little things we do that get the customers excited and help us drive down waste at the same time,” said Andrea Doygun, store manager. “For example, we clean the empty frosting containers from the bakery as well as corn crates from produce and put them out for our customers to take them home and reuse them. Every little thing counts!” “Doing our part in caring for the environment for future generations is a major initiative for us companywide,” said Manuel Haro, vice president of strategy. “To reach zero waste is a significant achievement that required the complete dedication of all Cleona store associates. The Cleona store is the first store among our Ahold Delhaize USA sister companies to achieve this milestone!” Currently 77 percent of all waste generated by its stores is diverted through recycling and composting. Last year the company saved more than 930,000 trees by recycling cardboard at all stores and distribution centers. Since 2011, Giant/Martin’s and its parent company have successfully removed more than one billion plastic bags from the waste stream through more efficient bagging, increased usage of reusable tote bags by customers, and turning plastic bags into 1,500 donated park benches through its Bags to Benches program. Good Job!

Are you looking for products that have any or all of these attributes: gluten free, keto friendly, non-GMO, dairy free, vegan, plant based, paleo and all natural, not to mention organic? Well, you probably would have found them at the Natural Products Expo East held September 13-15 in Baltimore, MD. Beyond the fact that this expo has totally outgrown the Baltimore facility (it is moving to Philly in 2020) there were so many investors in attendance one might have thought it was a Shark Tank episode. And, so, we get to the real issue. Nearly every booth I stopped at had product that is available on amazon.com for a decent price. In full disclosure, I buy more than a few of them with one click of a button on my phone. The products are pricey, but they’re full of attributes, made in small batches, usually tasty and they’re run by entrepreneurs who often time have no clue what they’re doing. But they believe in their mission and that’s what matters to them. Then come the investors or the large CPGs who buy them up, change the formula oh so slightly to reduce the cost just enough to put the product on a grocer’s shelf with a retail that will garner sales. It’s the American dream, after all. So what if your company isn’t scooped up and you have to navigate the food industry waters on your own? How can the product translate from ecommerce/amazon.com to the traditional retailers’ shelves? Time will tell.

Here’s what is trending in natural/organic channel: fat friendly food; kombucha, which is here to stay; plant based everything; beverages that aid in sleep as most of us are sleep deprived; beverages other than water to keep us hydrated; and keto friendly snacks. My personal favorites: Just the Cheese, a Wisconsin based company that makes a Rice Krispy like bar and minis of real cheese with a crunch; Fat Snax, the only keto friendly cookie that tasted like a real sugar cookie (no Erythritol), delicious but pricey; and RIND, skin-on fruit snacks; “keep it real, eat the peel.”

It’s not too late to secure tickets to the 45th annual New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) Good Government breakfast which will be held on October 3 at the Forsgate Country Club. New Jersey Senate President

Stephen M. Sweeny will receive the 2018 Thomas W. Kelly Government Service Award. John Wachter, general manager of Murphy’s Markets of South Jersey will receive the 2018 Good Government Award. As an active board member, John is being recognized for his good government and leadership skills. He chairs NJFC’s environmental affairs committee and participates in NJFC’s government affairs and labor issues committees. John generously gives of his time and expertise to participate in critical advocacy initiatives by communicating with elected officials to provide input and data on food policy proposals. In addition, New Jersey U.S. Senate Candidate Bob Hugin will be speaking at the event. Mr. Hugin is the former executive chair of Celgene who is challenging U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, who was also invited to present at the breakfast. The Good Government Breakfast will begin with a meet and greet at 8:30 a.m. and the breakfast program and awards will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. To register, go to http://fccfgg.com/index.php/good-government-breakfast.

Taking a walk into the sunset at the end of last month is Glenn Parry of Herr Foods. Glenn has been a part of the Herr’s team for the past 30 years. Prior to that, he held positions at both Pathmark and Two Guys. Happy travels, Glenn!

The circle of life has brought a couple of new faces to our world. Double congratulations to Nancy Rodgers-Fluharty of Pace-Target Food Brokers and her husband Michael on becoming new grandparents twice in the past month! Two of their three daughters have new little ones. Baby Savannah arrived first on August 25 to Kristie and Mark Carlin. Baby Liam soon followed on September 13 to Jessica and Ben Nemeth. Mothers and babies are all doing well. Needless to say, Nancy is going to be a busy bee in the coming months! Congratulations to the entire family!

Birthday shout outs for the transitional month of September go to: Anthony Gigliotti, Boyer’s Markets; Ed Elborne, Mt. Olive Pickle Co.; Nick Sborlini, Acme Markets; Anne Marie Mozzone, Acme Markets; Fran Dolan, Herr Foods; Lauren Eni, Dietz & Watson; Nate Ostroff, Network Food Brokers; Joe Gardyan, Utz Snacks; Bob Higgins, retired from SJU; and Joe Seiler, retired Campbell’s. Buon compleanno a tutti!

 

Quote of the month: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to act despite our fears.” John McCain