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Greetings everyone and welcome to the summer. It’s been nice to see and feel Mother Nature turn up the thermostat a little in the Northeast, and I hope that everyone is getting a chance to take advantage of the weather and get outside. Speaking of summer, more than 25,000 attendees made their way to the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City at the end of June and beginning of July. Major tips of the hat should go to everyone at the Specialty Food Association (SFA) for what is one of the premier trade shows in the food industry. Taking over nearly every inch of the expansive Jacob K. Javits Center, more than 2,600 exhibitors from all over the world were on hand to offer samples, sips, tastes and education about the latest in specialty food and beverages. According to Ron Tanner, vice president for philanthropy, government and industry relations for the SFA, sales of specialty food and beverage hit $127 billion last year, up 15 percent from 2014 and much of the growth was fueled by Millennials’ snacking trends. Millennials snack more than they eat full meals and they buy their snacks where and when they find them. “There is a lot of competition to get on shelf but there are also a lot more outlets to sell today,” he said. Not only are there the traditional bricks and mortar locations, but bookstores, specialty stores, Home goods sellers, general merchandise stores and online outlets all have contributed to the growth. So much so that the SFA says that 36 percent of specialty sales come from direct to consumer sites and third party e-commerce platforms. The segment’s strong double-digit growth is expected to continue in the years ahead, said Philip Kafarakis, president of the SFA. “The consumer evolution into authentic, sustainable and nutritious and wellness, while still keeping a focus on taste, continues to drive the growth of this business,” said Kafarakis. “We see opportunities in the future beyond just specialty food shops … we see it mainstream now, with regional and national retail chains, food service. We see huge opportunities in convenience stores.” To maintain the momentum, the association is expanding membership to buyers across retail channels, he said. “Our new vision as an organization is built around shaping the future of food, and our mission is built around championing, nurturing and connecting specialty food entrepreneurs so that we expand specialty food consumption,” Kafarakis added. “Beyond the phenomenal variety of product innovation, this year is another record year for exhibitors and another record year for space. We estimate about over 180,000 different specialty food products on the floor.” It was truly an amazing show, and for any of our readers that have not attended the Fancy Food show, you should absolutely mark your calendars for next June 30-July 2.

Congratulations to old friend Kevin Glynn who has been named regional sales manager for Gourmet Factory. Gourmet Factory manufactures and markets the Capatriti and Porto brands as well as private label opportunities in Mediterranean foods. Kevin joins Gourmet Factory from Oasis Brands and prior to that had held various regional sales management positions. Best wishes, Kevin!

Acosta Sales & Marketing has a new research and insight study that shows that 97 percent of all CPG dollars are still being spent in bricks-and-mortar retail stores. However, the ability to click and collect and purchase boxed-meal delivery services is evidence that U.S. grocery shoppers are warming to online retail, as 28 percent now prefer to purchase groceries online regularly, as reported in Acosta’s latest hot topic report – “Bricks & Clicks – Understanding the Omni Channel Landscape.”

“Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is the perfect example of how the CPG landscape is changing and how technology and online retail have created a shift in the way people shop for groceries,” said Colin Stewart, senior vice president at Acosta. “While e-commerce is growing in this space, retailers still have a leg up, as our research has shown the majority of grocery shoppers are still making purchases in store and they find value in doing so.” “Bricks & Clicks – Understanding the Omni Channel Landscape” provides an overview of these growing e-commerce trends. Profiles of e-commerce grocery shoppers show they are multi-faceted, though they unsurprisingly skew toward Millennial age groups and people living in urban areas. Also, while online sales have grown — specifically in dry-goods categories, non-foods and health and beauty care — bricks-and-mortar retail continues to be preferred when grocery shoppers want to personally select their produce and when they seek fresh meats, cheeses and other chilled categories. “Whether a shopper is clicking for their groceries or browsing the supermarket aisles, it’s important for brands and retailers to recognize the value and unique benefits offered by both purchase pathways,” Stewart continued. “E-commerce does not mean the end of brick-and-mortar stores, but it provides new and different growth opportunities for retailers, which requires them to form a new strategy tailored to how grocery shoppers prefer to buy their foods.” For more information on the report contact your Acosta representative or go to www.acosta.com/hottopicreports.

Allegiance Retail Services, LLC has joined forces with Coinstar LLC to install as many as 80 Coinstar kiosks at Allegiance affiliated supermarket banners including Foodtown locations. The stores that sign on for the installations will receive full-functionality coin-counting kiosks with such features as coins-to-cash, no-fee coin-to-e-gift card and charity donation options. Joe Fantozzi, vice president of retail member services for Allegiance said, “We’re excited to offer the Coinstar kiosks to our owner-operated affiliate stores. We expect high participation given Coinstar’s full-service capabilities and turnkey service, combined with its proven ability to drive foot traffic and increase store revenue.” Coinstar expects to begin kiosk installations at Allegiance affiliate locations in August.

City Acres Market opened its second location in the New York City area with a food destination that combines a high-end grocery experience with an on-trend food hall in the heart of Wall Street at 70 Pine Street. Located in the financial district, the new location offers the abundance of City Acres Market plus more options from established concepts for juices, pizza, dumplings, sandwiches, and much more.
In addition to stocking up on groceries and picking up a quick meal, City Acres Market offers the convenience of meal kits to take home for dinner preparation, crafted by executive chef and creative director Stephen Yen who developed his skills at Morimoto and Catch. “This is a one-stop location. You come in, you can get a snack, you can get dinner for later. We’re going to launch meal kits in about a month or so. And the best part about it is one swipe. You don’t have to stand in different lines. You don’t have to pay the Artichoke Pizza guys, you can gather everything together and check out once,” said Yen. City Acres Market will include FiDi outposts of acclaimed restaurants including Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, Vanessa’s Dumpling House, JuiceBrothers, The Cinnamon Snail and Beyond Sushi. City Acres Market’s 15,000-square foot flagship location in Williamsburg opened in December 2013.

We were deeply saddened to learn that Ryan Bennett, 36, of Scotch Plains, passed away on Thursday, July 13. Ryan is the son of Gordon Bennett, president/CEO of MPS Enterprises, LLC and his wife Barbara. Ryan was a graduate of Seton Hall University, receiving his B.A. in Communications. He has worked for Dorf Feature Services, Mountainside, for the past 20 years as an office manager. Ryan enjoyed going to the shore with his family and friends, and riding on jet skis. He traveled to many places with his family including Europe, Japan, and Hawaii. Ryan was an avid sports fan and enjoyed going to games, especially those of the NY Giants and the NY Yankees. Ryan loved listening to music and going to concerts where he would crowd surf with friends. Most of all Ryan loved and enjoyed being with his family and friends. Our condolences to Gordon and Barbara, brother Sean (Stephanie); and his two sisters Jaime and Kaitlyn. Anyone wishing to make a contribution in his memory can send to the International OCD Foundation at www.iocdf.org and/or the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at www.st.jude.org. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Also, James Phelan passed away July 2 at the age of 78 in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. He is survived by wife, Ruth Wildoner Phelan; daughters, Ruthann (Kevin) DiLauri and Kim (Lloyd) Mueller, and son Jim (Jeanette) Phelan. Jim held executive positions at ShopRite, Pathmark, Weis Markets and A&P, before opening five Florida supermarkets. Anyone wishing to remember Jim may contribute to Community Hospice, 4715 Worrall Way, Jacksonville, Fla. 32224. Rest in peace.

Congratulations to Jersey City, NJ based Imperial Bag and Paper as they have recently purchased Dade Paper Company based in Miami. The new company will be known as Imperial Dade. Since acquiring Imperial 10 years ago, the father and son team of Robert and Jason Tillis have continued to grow their food packaging, disposables, janitorial supplies and paper products distribution company through acquisitions as well as internal growth. Not only has the company moved into a spacious new LEED certified 535,000 square foot facility, but the Dade purchase marks the tenth acquisition for the company in just ten years.

“The Dade Paper team is an important addition to our growing platform,” states Jason Tillis, president of Imperial. “This represents a major step forward in our core markets and geographies. It reinforces our position as a leading distribution and service provider in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions, while positioning us to continue to expand throughout the remainder of the United States.”

“Together, our businesses will share best practices and provide a platform for future organic growth. The partnership with the Dade organization will significantly expand our reach into the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic markets, allowing us greater geographic coverage and ability to serve a broad customer base,” said Robert Tillis, CEO. “The management teams are all staying in place and the goal is to take the best of each of the companies and put them together going forward,” Jason Tillis explained. “This acquisition now gives us the ability to provide next day delivery to the entire East Coast,” Jason Tillis added. “Our goal is to offer the largest inventory and most product expertise across all different verticals. We want to be a great support and distribution partner to anyone who wants to grow their business.”

And finally, we were sorry to hear that Norman Remler passed away on June 3 at the age of 90. Many remember Norman from his days as one of the leaders in the old Eastern Dairy Deli Association where he was a board member and former president. He also served as president of the West Washington Meat Club. Norman had started his own food brokerage company, Remler Sales and also was a partner in two other prominent perishable brokerage companies – Norlen Marketing and Norlen-Futoran. He is survived by his wife Gladys, daughter Leslie and her husband David and a son Robert and his wife Margery as well as four grandchildren. May he rest in peace.

Enjoy the summer everyone and I hope to see you out and about. You can always reach me at 201.250.2217 or kgallagher@best-met.com.