NJFC Co-Hosts a Successful Farm to Fork Event at the Statehouse

On Monday, June 12, 2017, NJFC co-hosted the 5th Annual Farm to Fork Day at the Statehouse. This event provided us with a forum to interact with over 200 members of the Legislature and State House staff. This opportunity gave NJFC visibility in the State’s Capitol in order to continue to advance the agenda of the food industry.

We appreciate the generosity of the following members who donated products including Acme Markets, Bimbo Bakeries USA, Coca-Cola Refreshments, Goya Foods, Saker ShopRites, and Wegmans to deliver another successful event.


Release: NJFC Trade Relations Conference Highlights All-Star Cook-Off

Chef Miguel Morales and sous chef Michelle Cantalupo of Foodtown/Food Circus Supermarkets have worked in kitchens for just about as long as they can remember. Their shared wealth of knowledge, combined with the guts to innovate with each dish, gave them the edge to win the New Jersey Food Council’s second-annual Best Chef Cook-Off Challenge.

View Photos from the Event Here

The prestigious challenge preceded the Food Council’s 2017 Trade Relations Conference, a popular industry event for food retailers and suppliers held June 6-7 at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. More than 200 industry leaders watched the culinary heavyweights display their talents, network and learn more about the future of the business.

Competing against the top supermarket chefs in New Jersey, Morales and Cantalupo won the cook-off for the second consecutive year. But they didn’t rely on old tricks to secure the victory.

The chefs wowed judges with a fried Chilean sea bass dressed in a spicy tomato and chile sauce. Further elevating the dish were a Spanish zucchini stuffed with quinoa, a herb named epizote, tomatoes and queso fresco topped with mozzarella cheese.

Finally, for dessert, Morales and Cantalupo prepared a chocolate tamale stuffed with coconut sweet rice, covered in toasted almonds and pineapple, strawberry and chocolate sauces.

“We chose this dish for its uniqueness,” Cantalupo said. “It is a rare thing to find an actual chocolate cake cooked as a tamale, instead of a regular tamale with chocolate sauces.”

Chefs from QuickChek Corp., Village Supermarkets and Inserra ShopRite also put up a noble fight in the cook-off. Given the tough competition, Circus Foodtown, which operates stores in Monmouth and Ocean counties, was ecstatic to have won the prestigious challenge.

“We believe in great quality and outstanding service,” said Cantalupo, who grew up cooking in her family’s restaurant.

That’s also true of the New Jersey Food Council. During the conference, the organization awarded Stan Barrasso the 2017 Max Stone Award, a distinguished honor given to those with an accomplished career in trade relations. Barrasso, a food broker for Acosta Sales & Marketing, has spent decades in the business.

“Stan Barrasso is an outstanding role model in the food trade industry,” New Jersey Food Council President Linda Doherty said. “His style and ability to forge partnerships between the supplier and food retail community is admired and appreciated.”

Chris Lane, executive vice president of Wakefern Food Corporation, delivered the Trade Relations Conference’s keynote speech. At a time when technology is evolving and consumers’ preferences are shifting, he said, supermarkets and grocery stores that continue doing what they always have might end up on the bottom shelf. The industry’s next five years could bring as much change as the past 50 years, he added.

Release: For Wakefern’s Chris Lane, Reinvention is the Name of the Game

It takes a team of dedicated professionals to run the $16 billion retail cooperative behind ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite and Dearborn Market stores. Leading the procurement, marketing, logistics and technology initiatives is Chris Lane, Wakefern Food Corp.’s Executive Vice President.

Lane, a seasoned industry veteran, began his career at CVS Health after graduating with a pharmacy degree from the University of the Sciences, College of Pharmacy in Philadelphia, PA.

After eight years, he moved on to Duane Reade, a New York City-based pharmacy retail chain. He steadily climbed the ranks there, ultimately leaving to join Wakefern in 2003 as the company’s Vice President of Pharmacy.

Through a series of promotions, Lane quickly expanded his responsibilities to include Health and Beauty Care, Grocery and Commercial Bakery. With each promotion, the up-and-comer was challenged to further master the grocery and retail sides of the business. After a promotion to Senior Vice President of Wakefern’s product divisions, Lane was named as its Executive Vice President.

“The great opportunities I’ve had are a reflection of Wakefern’s culture,” Lane said. “Wakefern’s leadership is committed to developing its people — providing a broad range of experiences to help them succeed. We’re not afraid to give people opportunities when they deserve those opportunities. And as we say to our associates, ‘The rest is up to you.’”

Because grocery stores run on low profit margins, Lane and the Wakefern team continue to innovate year-over-year, looking toward new technology, institutional knowledge and the rising millennial workforce to further grow the business.

“The heartbeat of our business are the 50 families that own and operate the 300 plus stores that serve eight million customers each year,” said Lane. “These are the entrepreneurs, the risk takers that have defined Wakefern’s lasting success.”

His ability to lead this dynamic organization is one reason why the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) tapped Lane to give the prestigious keynote address at its 2017 Trade Relations Conference, scheduled for June 6 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. The can’t-miss trade program will bring together the most influential players in the state’s food business, culminating in Lane’s presentation.

“We are delighted Chris Lane is giving our Keynote Address at our Trade Conference. Chris represents the future of the grocery business in the Northeast Region and his insights spotlight the direction and challenges food retailers face in today’s dynamic environment,” said NJFC President Linda Doherty.

Wakefern is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the country and New Jersey’s largest private employer. It occupies more than 2.5 million square feet of grocery and retail warehouse space. In its most recent fiscal year, Wakefern registered $16 billion in sales. For these reasons, Lane says, “Our 50 families are grinding it out every day in this business,” referencing the company’s owners. “One of the unique things about Wakefern is that our owners keep us close to the customer, neighborhood by neighborhood, competitor by competitor.”

What also empowers Lane’s company is the work of the New Jersey Food Council, he said. In his job, he deals with any number of trade groups, but few match the Food Council’s ability to continually go to bat for grocery stores and consumers alike.

“We believe the New Jersey Food Council brings the perspective of Wakefern and our competitors and gives us a strong, loud voice in regard to the government regulations that we’re dealing with,” Lane said.

And as Lane and Wakefern have shown, challenges and change can’t simply go ignored.

Contact NJFC at 609-392-8899 to register for the event, or go to http://bit.ly/2oVHgWK

Release: In 20 Years as a Food Broker, Stan Barrasso Still Makes Deals and Works the Trade

When new friends ask Stan Barrasso what he does for a living, he finds it difficult to respond.

He could tell them about how he connects supermarkets with big brands, like Coca-Cola and Minute Maid. Or he could discuss his drive to help up-and-coming companies, like the chickpea-centric Banza Pasta, learn the food business and succeed.

But, typically, he just tells people he’s a salesman.

That’s because Barrasso’s job as a food broker for Acosta Sales & Marketing is complicated. He’s the guy who facilitates major deals between companies like A&P and the manufacturers vying for shelf space. It’s a critical role in the food business, and one that’s often overlooked—even his mother thought he worked for a supermarket.

But Barrasso’s efforts are gaining recognition. He’s the recipient of the New Jersey Food Council’s 2017 Max Stone Award, a prestigious honor given to those with an accomplished career in trade relations. The Award will be presented to Barrasso during the NJFC Trade Relations Conference at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City on June 6, 2017.

“Stan Barrasso is an outstanding role model in the food trade industry,” said NJFC President Linda Doherty. “His style and ability to forge partnerships between the supplier and food retail community is admired and appreciated.” 

“I’m honored to get this award, and I don’t take it for granted at all,” Barrasso said. “We have a great industry, and the thing that hits me the most about it is the quality of the people and their willingness to come together for each other.”

And Barrasso knows the business better than most.

After graduating from Seton Hall University in South Orange, he began his career as a retail representative for Hillshire Farm in 1990. Soon enough, he climbed the ranks and took on more responsibilities. By age 28, Barrasso was at a crossroads: Either accept a promotion and leave New Jersey or look for new work.

“My family and I are New Jersey through and through, and we’re proud of that,” the Little Falls resident, husband and father of three said. “We couldn’t leave.”

So he went to work as a broker for the company that would become Acosta Sales and Marketing. He has thrived there ever since, eventually becoming senior vice president of the metro mid-Atlantic region.

His favorite part of the job is mentoring young food brokers and watching them grow, both personally and professionally. In fact, as a team leader, he has taught newcomers the business for more than a decade.

“They’re inquisitive, and they want to know everything. Teaching them is what keeps me going,” Barrasso said. “We just promoted some guys and gals to big roles who I recruited, and it’s so rewarding.”

Barrasso has also picked up a few tricks from his younger colleagues. He recently moved his 200-person office from Hackensack to Plainfield, a process that took almost two years and, despite some concerns, didn’t result in a single resignation. The new space represents a step forward, bringing employees together to brainstorm over Ping-Pong, basketball and Xbox matches.

But the boss spends most of his time working for his more than 250 clients. Where he could once ink deals through a laugh and a drink at the bar, he must now record and gather every possible bit of data. Because he may meet with Clorox in the morning and Campbell’s Soup in the afternoon, Barrasso also must know the ins and outs of many industries.

Barrasso relies on the New Jersey Food Council to help him and his employees better understand the factors that could affect the food trade. Even better, Barrasso said, is the council’s proven ability to successfully fight for companies like Acosta.

“I feel like I owe them a debt,” he said. “Things that could have affected not only our business at Acosta, but the whole industry, have been warded off by the Food Council.”

For registration information to attend the NJFC Trade Relations Conference or ‘curtain closer’ Golf event on June 7 at Galloway National Golf Club, please call 609-392-8899 or register at http://njfoodcouncil.com/

BREAKING NEWS: Wakefern’s Chris Lane to Keynote 2017 NJFC Trade Relations Conference

The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) is pleased to announce that Chris Lane, Executive Vice President for Wakefern Food Corporation, will present the Keynote Address during the 2017 Trade Relations Conference to be held on June 6, at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, NJ, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Chris Lane is the Executive Vice President for Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States. His current responsibilities include guiding the day-to-day operations and strategic planning for Wakefern, a cooperative that reported $16 billion in retail sales for its most recent fiscal year.

During the event, Stan Barrasso, Senior Vice President Metro Mid Atlantic, of Acosta Sales & Marketing will be honored with the NJFC Max Stone Trade Relations Award. The Max Stone Award is named in honor of the longtime trade relations leader for Best Foods, CPC in recognition of his accomplished career in trade relations in New Jersey.

As is tradition, the conference will conclude with a Curtain Closer golf event at Galloway National Golf Club onJune 7 at 9:00 A.M. in Galloway, NJ.

Contact NJFC at 609-392-8899 to register for the event, or go to http://bit.ly/2oVHgWK

The New Jersey Food Council 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.