Congratulations to the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM) on the opening of the new state of the art warehouse on Essington Avenue in Philadelphia! After many delays the market opened for business on June 5 and the 26 merchants who now call the PWPM home couldn’t be happier. We at Food Trade News are thrilled to present the food industry with a special section which we hope will rouse your curiosity and bring you down to the PWPM for a tour and hopefully entice you to do business with these dedicated merchants who make up the PWPM. The PWPM’s new distribution center has been called “the future of fresh” in Philadelphia. With more than 700,000 square feet of refrigerated space under one roof, it truly is! I have many people to thank as we put this commemorative section together, starting with Sonny DiCrecchio, CEO, who agreed to meet with me more than a year ago, took the proposal to the board of directors and had it approved. Dan Kane, market manager, helped me navigate through the old market as we planned this piece on the new market. Certainly, this tribute would not have published without the John Vena of John Vena, Inc., chairman of the marketing committee at the PWPM and the other members of the marketing committee. The cooperation was 100 percent from the beginning once the very publicity shy merchants figured out that we were there to help, not harm, this unique and precious gem that calls Philadelphia its home. And to the merchants who toil from before the sun rises until the job is done, thank you for finding time in your busy days to pose for photos, answer questions and give me a glimpse of your very special universe. It has been an adventure learning about your businesses. There is so much to tell you, our readers about this unique operation, and the people who run it say it best…so read, marvel and enjoy!
As the June market study issue of Food Trade News was heading to the printer, my daughter Rosalie and I boarded Alitalia flight 642 for Rome with a change of planes to our final destination of Palermo, Sicily. To my surprise, security at Newark Liberty International Airport was much easier than I had anticipated. We had two delightful flights and landed at Punta Raisi airport in Palermo to the hot Sicilian sun and a beautiful view of Mt. Pellegrino. This trip to Sicily was not for sightseeing, rather this was a visit to introduce the third generation of Maggios born in the USA to our motherland, the place all four of my grandparents left in the early 1900’s to make a better life than what Sicily had to offer. We still have one section of our family there. The older generation was actually born in the USA after my aunt and uncle settled in South Philadelphia’s Italian Market with other family members. They returned to Castelvetrano after making a good living here. I remember my aunt telling me how much she missed America when I spent time with her at her home in Sicily when I was a teenager. My cousin Fanny (emphasis on the second syllable) was waiting for us at the airport. Tears flowed as we hugged for the first time in 15 years. After an hour’s drive, a delicious “pranzo” (lunch) and a refreshing nap, we were off to the beach to dip our feet in the luxurious Mediterranean Sea and walk on the rough sand. I was already relaxing! For the most part, Sicily hasn’t changed in those 15 years. What has changed is that there is now a more modern atmosphere mixed in with the traditional. Castelvetrano, in the province of Trapani on the western side of Sicily has approximately 30,000 residents. Some of the younger generation are leaving because of lack of work. However, for those who remain, efforts have been made on the outskirts of the city to modernize. Fanny took us to the new “Centro Commerciale Piazza” which is an area of big box stores, a mall and horrors of horrors, a McDonald’s, complete with a “McDrive!” Of course, my first request was to go to the supermarket in the mall. In all my time spent in Sicily, I was used to going to the bakery for pane nero (dark bread found exclusively in Castelvetrano), the butcher, and the produce store to get food with my cousins almost every day. These days Sicilian families are finding themselves in the same situation we have here in the USA; both husband and wife work, there is less time to spend together as a family with even less time to make a daily run to the specialized stores. So, off to the supermarkets they go for one-stop shopping. While not as large as their American counterparts, the Italian supermarket has a wide variety of products from which consumers can choose. Indeed, the supermarkets are much like ours, with produce, gastronomia and dairy products displayed beside the large packages of paper towels and household cleaning products. The difference I saw from years ago was the size of the frozen food department. Italians can now buy just about anything frozen, from fava beans to ready to eat meals. I suppose I will see the red Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese box on my next visit! From my aunt’s house one can see the Mediterranean Sea beckoning. I, for one can’t stay away. Along the coast is a large ancient Greek settlement called Selinus, or Selinunte in Italian. Selinunte dates back to 650 B.C. and was one of the largest and most important Greek settlements in Sicily. Destroyed by the Carthaginians in 250 B.C., it is untouched for the most part and is considered an archaeologist’s playground. Present day Selinunte is a popular vacation destination with beachgoers romping in the salty sea in the shadow of the remains of the towering temples. We had a scrumptious dinner Saturday evening “al fresco” overlooking the harbor with 15 members of our family. We dined on freshly caught fish cooked in every way possible, locally grown vegetables and heavenly locally vinted white wine. Unfortunately, the sounds of planes flying to and from Libya marred what was an otherwise perfect evening. The war in Libya is of major concern to Sicilians. The main airport in Trapani is closed to commercial traffic as a result of the conflict since it is being used by NATO forces as a base of operations from which planes go on bombing raids reach night. As many as 1,000 refugees arrive in Sicily every day by boat, with many more succumbing to the Mediterranean’s waters. My Sicilian friends told me that, while they aren’t supportive of the war, they have an allegiance to NATO and they support the efforts to get rid of Gaddafi. Amen. The cuisine of Sicily is simple and fresh. Fish is prevalent on many tables. Fresh vegetables abound. My aunt made a soup from cuccuzza, a type of zucchini, potatoes, onion, fresh tomatoes and fresh herbs. Pair it with pane nero, rice balls and miniature plums and fresh figs and “bedda madre” what a meal! I always feel my healthiest in Sicily; long walks, fresh food, hot sun, clear perfectly tempered water to swim in and my beloved family. I hated to leave them all. Rosalie and I next visited Rome and Florence and played tourist for five days, but what meant the most to me was when we left Sicily, Rosalie cried just like I do every time I leave. She began what I hope will be a life-long love affair with la bella Sicilia! Even with all of the beauty and nostalgia of Sicily, I was happy to see Lady Liberty in New York Harbor welcoming us home just the way she welcomed my grandparents when they arrived over 100 years ago. I looked up, gave them a wink and thanked them for taking the risk and that leap of faith for a better life for all of us. We are so grateful.
So, now back to reality… The Network of Executive Women will induct the first group of honorees into the NEW CPG Retail Diversity Hall of Fame September 19, during the NEW Leadership Summit 2011 in Orlando. The CPG Retail Diversity Hall of Fame will honor 11 executives and organizations recognized for driving diversity in the industry. The inductees are: DPG/retail technology guru Linda Dillman, IT expert Jeri Dunn, PepsiCo executive Tom Greco, the late Bill Grize of Ahold USA , early Network supporter Don Knauss of Clorox, Jeff Noddle of Supervalu, supply-side standout Kay Palmer, Kings Super Market president Judy Spires and Jamba Juice CEO James White. Delhaize America and Procter & Gamble also will be recognized in the CPG Retail Diversity Hall of Fame for their efforts to advance diversity and inclusion. The NEW Leadership Summit 2011 will celebrate the Network’s 10th anniversary and focus on “advancing women and building business — the next 10 years.” More than 900 industry leaders and emerging leaders are expected to register for the Summit, which kicks off September 19, with special meetings and a pair of bonus pre-event NEW Leadership Academy workshops. For more information please go to www.newonline.org.
The NASFT’s 57th Summer Fancy Food Show took place in Washington, DC recently as the Javitz Center in Manhattan is undergoing renovations. While the Javitz Center is massive, we always know our way around and the show is housed on two closely connected levels. The Washington Convention Center is disjointed with several levels separating the show floors and what is usually on the top level at the Javitz Center was on the bottom level this year. However, that did not discourage attendees from sampling the goodies in all categories throughout the show. Each year a panel of trendspotters picks the hottest trends for the year. The top five trends in 2011 are: booze infused foods; give-it-a-try kits; popped food; Japanese inspired eats and cherries in everything from spreads to beverages. The 39th sofi Gold awards were also announced just before the show ended. For a total list of winners go to www.foodspring. com/sofiawards/gold.
Continuing the circle of life, Anthony Gigliotti of Boyer’s Market and his wife Sallie welcomed their third son Tobias on June 17. Arriving at 6 pounds 8 ounces and a couple of weeks early, Tobias couldn’t wait to join brothers Gabriel and Joshua. All are doing well.
Birthday shout-outs for the hot hot hot month of July go out to: Joe Fantozzi, White Rose; Kelly Tarzwell, Burris Logistics; Tim Summy, Bimbo Bakeries; Bob Krum, Red Lion Imports; and to my son Gino Marfuggi Jr. Buon compleanno a tutti!
Celebrating wedded bliss this month are: Paul and Monica McGurkin of Integrity Food Marketing; Sandy and Jeff Brown, Brown’s ShopRites; and Jim and Joan Kinney, former VP/GM of Food Trade News. Happy Anniversary!
Quote of the month: “Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent.” Nolan Ryan