View the 2017 Loss Prevention Conference & Exhibition photos

left to right: Jesse Levine,
Derrick Price, Ed Rohena

There was no shortage of compelling presentations at the 2017 Loss Prevention Conference & Exhibition, as food industry leaders discussed many pressing loss prevention and safety issues. Celebrated was Wakefern Food Corporation’s Vice President of Loss Prevention, Steve Hoptay, who was honored with the 2017 Loss Prevention Professional Award.

The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC), in partnership with the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, hosted the 2017 Loss Prevention Conference and Expo at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township on Thursday, November 2 at 8 a.m. Approximately 100 Loss Prevention professionals attended the annual conference with 23 vendor exhibitors.

Linda Doherty, President & CEO of NJFC, said the event tackled all aspects of loss prevention, ensuring security professionals have all the latest information to preserve and protect company resources. In addition, awards were presented to individuals and law enforcement officials committed to loss prevention. “There is no question that loss continues to have a devastating affect on our business model,” she said.

The event offered a number of compelling presentations, including:

• State Police Major Fred Fife, Commander, Regional Operations & Intelligence Center, discussed “Private Sector Partnerships: The Intelligence Age for a Secure New Jersey.”

• Jesse Levine, Ravitz Family Markets, Director of Loss Prevention & Quality Assurance, and Derrick Price, Wakefern Food Corporation, Retail Loss Prevention Manager, detailed the latest in facial recognition software and other emerging technologies.

• Mitch Cowit, a police training specialist, addressed forensic interview techniques and effective communication.

• Kris Hoffman, an area director for the federal Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provided an update on retail safety.

Awards were presented to loss prevention leaders and law enforcement agents who implement new strategies to combat loss prevention and retail theft.

Steve Hoptay, Vice President of Loss Prevention at Wakefern Food Corp., accepted the “Loss Prevention Professional Award.” In addition, the “Retail Law Enforcement Achievement Award” was given to Franklin Police Captain Gregory Borlan, State Police Detective Sergeant Jamie Champ, and Gloucester Police Detective Anthony Massi.

The conference also offered three roundtable discussions: “Business Continuity and Emergency Management Planning” moderated by Mr. Hoptay, “Safety: Open Discussion” moderated by Mr. Levine, and “Using Analytics to Improve Loss Prevention Operational Outcomes” moderated by Carl Goldstein, Agilence Senior Account Executive.

There were also insightful programs on “eCommerce Fraud” by Andrew Iaci, a managing director of JPMorgan Chase & Co.; and “Private Sector and Law Enforcement: Operational Perspectives and Best Practices” by State Police Major Ron Hampton of the Intelligence & Criminal Enterprise Section and State Police Lieutenant Dan Bergin of the Interstate Theft North Unit.

To view the photos of the event, click here.

View the 2017 Golf Outing Photos

The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) held its Annual Golf Outing on Monday, September 11, 2017 at the prestigious Suburban Golf Club in Union, New Jersey.  The event was attended by nearly 200 food industry executives representing retail, manufacturers, brokers, wholesalers and convenience stores from across New Jersey.
“The golf outing always offers great networking opportunities for food trade associates and retail executives while enjoying a fun day at the Suburban Country Club,” said NJFC President Linda Doherty.
Attendees enjoyed 18 holes of challenging golf and dined on a delicious barbecue lunch while taking in a spectacular view of the course. The event closed with an evening reception that featured awards, amazing door and raffle prizes generously donated by members and a swag bag filled with the latest and greatest products from the industry.
The winning golfers are as follows:
First Place Team A.M.: Mary Elizabeth Warner, Cheryl Alesso
First Place Team P.M.: Ed Seijido, Mike Telesca, Shawn Conlon, Mike Biase
Closest to the Pin (Men & Women): Brian Brannigan, Cheryl Alesso
Closest to the Line (Men & Women): Lorenzo Castaldo, Mary Elizabeth Warner
Longest Drive (Men & Women): Brent Snyder, Cheryl Alesso

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.


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