NJ Food Council Graduates 2016 Leadership Development Class


(L-R) Keith Breen of Perlmart; Nicholas Lewandoski of ACME Markets; Jessica Reiley of FoodCircus; Paula Coltriano of Acosta Sales and Marketing; Phil Scaduto of FoodCircus; Todd Ferrera of Wegmans Food Markets; Mike Nelson of Wegmans Food Markets; NJFC President Linda Doherty; James Hazlett of Bimbo Bakeries and NJFC Board Chair Judy Spires of Kings Food Markets



Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Al Murray addresses the group prior to the graduation ceremony

The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) recently celebrated the graduation of its 2016 Leadership Development Class at a reception hosted by Wegmans Food Markets in Woodbridge, New Jersey.  Launched in 2014, the Food Council Leadership Development Program provides training for future leaders who have a passion for working in the food industry, possess an interest in the dynamics and trends of government, and want to make a difference in the direction of the industry.

Featuring speakers from Federal and State governments as well as the food industry, the program combines elements of mentoring, organizational education, leadership training, policy trends, and guided experiences. This year, Scott Coffina, Senior Deputy Chief Counsel to the Governor’s Office, and Al Murray, New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, were keynote speakers for the final session of the program.

Each year, NJFC member companies have the ability to nominate potential candidates for participation in the program.  NJFC’s Leadership Development Team then selects those individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to the New Jersey Food Council and who have great potential for growth and advancement in the food distribution business.

Senior Deputy Chief Counsel Scott Coffina addresses the group prior to the graduation ceremony

“We really enjoyed working with this year’s class of rising stars in the food industry,” said NJFC President, Linda Doherty.  “One of the main goals of this program is to educate future leaders on public policy areas that impact their business and the food industry’s bottom line. We were fortunate to have key policy leaders from the Governor’s Office and the Department of Agriculture work with this group and explain the inner-workings of state government and the importance of advocacy.”

“The training and mentoring they received throughout this entire program will not only help advance their careers, but also ensure the food industry continues to flourish,” Doherty continued.  “We applaud the group for their hard work and commitment to the program and we look forward to their continued success.”



Below are the individuals in this year’s graduating NJFC Leadership Development class:

  • Antonio Acosta – Kings Food Markets
  • Keith Breen – Perlmart
  • Paula Colatriano – Acosta Sales & Marketing
  • James Haslett – Bimbo Bakeries USA
  • Nicholas Lewandoski  – Acme Markets
  • Michael Nelson – Wegmans Food Markets
  • Jessica Riley – Food Circus Super Markets

NJFC Statement on Governor Christie’s Veto of 79 Percent Minimum Wage Increase

Linda Doherty, President and CEO of the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC), released the following statement regarding Governor Christie’s absolute veto of legislation which would drastically increase the minimum wage in New Jersey to $15 an hour:

“We support the action today by Governor Christie in vetoing a 79 percent increase in the minimum wage that would have made New Jersey one of the highest required wages in the country. New Jersey’s food retail and distribution industry employs almost 200,000 workers annually, and our member companies operate on very slim margins.  While the industry is committed to providing our employees with competitive wages and generous benefit packages, New Jersey food stores would be unable to afford such a drastic increase in labor costs without reducing staff, cutting hours and benefits, and raising prices on consumers. 

“Minimum wage increases reduce access to entry level positions particularly in labor intensive industries like food retail and distribution which relies on students who live at home, seasonal workers and retirees supplementing their income.

DSC_2168“Ironically, it is the food companies that call New Jersey home, providing tens of thousands of New Jerseyans with jobs that would be particularly disadvantaged by this extraordinarily high wage floor.  Big box stores could absorb higher labor costs in New Jersey by raising prices minimally across their huge supply chain.  On-line retailers will pursue automated technology to avoid hiring people.  It is New Jersey food retailers that would bear the burden of this forced wage increase because these stores can only realize a limited number of sales and prices can only be raised so high to compensate for the higher wage costs.

“Economists John Dunham & Associates have conducted a comprehensive economic analysis of New Jersey’s food retail and distribution industry. The data shows that New Jersey has lagged behind national job growth, both in lower-skilled jobs and in total jobs, in almost every year the minimum wage was increased. Following the 2014 minimum wage increase, low wage job growth fell from 2.79 percent to 1.48 percent, a loss of -1.31 percent.

“The data also reveals that a drastic minimum wage increase would lead to a significant increase in the price of groceries and other essentials. The price tag of a $15 minimum wage in increased costs to consumers is nearly $294 million. Even more troubling is that seniors age 55 and above, many of whom are on fixed incomes, would bear 40 percent of these increased costs to the tune of nearly $125 million.  Basic necessities would cost more, such as toilet paper, which would increase by 19 percent.

DSC_2193“Food retailers are the anchor of almost every New Jersey community, and our industry has an impact on the health and wellness of New Jersey residents. This forced increase would jeopardize new food retail investment and job growth, and would drastically raise prices for food and groceries for all New Jersey families.

“New Jersey was once the headquarters of supermarket giants Pathmark and The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P), a combined 200 years in the grocery business. These stores recently filed for bankruptcy in 2015 after the last wage hike. While these companies had their struggles, the last forced wage increase was unsustainable. A significant minimum wage increase would further jeopardize established New Jersey food retailers that will find it difficult to afford the nation’s highest minimum wage.

“The New Jersey Food Council appreciates the action by Governor Christie today.  We look forward to working with the State Legislature as this issue continues to be deliberated in the months to come.”

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.  For more information, visit www.njfoodcouncil.com.


US Attorney Fishman to Speak at Northeast Regional Loss Prevention Conference

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman

Paul Fishman, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, will be featured as the keynote speaker at NJFC’s Northeast Regional Loss Prevention Conference and Exhibition on October 26, 2016 at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township. In partnership with the NJ Retail Merchants Association (NJRMA), this widely-attended regional conference focuses on the challenges of loss prevention and security in the food and retail industries.

As the chief federal law enforcement officer for New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Fishman is expected to address important initiatives to tackle loss prevention and theft issues in the retail industry, particularly in the area of organized retail crime.  The conference will also focus on cyber security, credit card data breaches, and the importance of public and private partnerships with law enforcement.

Last year, U.S. Attorney Fishman led federal law enforcement officials working in various government agencies in breaking up a large-scale, organized retail crime scheme involving the theft of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and health and beauty aid products that spanned from 2008 to 2013 in New Jersey and New York.

“We are thrilled and honored to have the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey as our keynote speaker for this year’s Loss Prevention Conference,” said NJFC President Linda Doherty.  “Partnering with law enforcement professionals is critical for retailers to help thwart crime and reduce risk.  As the chief federal law enforcement officer for New Jersey, there is no one better than U.S. Attorney Fishman to update our industry on the latest federal initiatives to help combat organized retail crime and enhance security in our stores and online.”

Paul J. Fishman was nominated by President Barack Obama as the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey in June 2009; he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 7, 2009 and sworn in on October 14, 2009.  As U.S. Attorney, he is responsible for overseeing all federal criminal investigations and prosecutions and the litigation of all civil matters in New Jersey in which the federal government has an interest. Mr. Fishman supervises a staff of approximately 145 attorneys and 115 support personnel in Newark, Camden, and Trenton.

The annual conference will also honor food industry and law enforcement professionals for their achievements in the field of loss prevention.  Ed Rohena of Stop & Shop Supermarkets will be the recipient of the 2016 Loss Prevention Professional Award and four law enforcement officers will receive the 2016 Retail Law Enforcement Achievement Award:  Kate Ingram from the New Jersey State Police; Detective Mike Coffey from the Piscataway Police Department; and Detective Mark Bajada from the Toms River Police Department.

Additionally, NJFC will announce recipients of this year’s Loss Prevention Scholarship Program, a program to fund continuing education for NJFC loss prevention associates through the Loss Prevention Foundation. Applications are due on September 30, 2016 and can be downloaded at www.njfoodcouncil.com.

Tom Cormier of Ahold USA to Receive 2016 Good Government Award

Food Council PAC to Honor Legislators and NJ Health Commissioner at Annual Good Government Breakfast

Cormier 1The Food Council Committee for Good Government (FCCfGG) will recognize Tom Cormier of Ahold USA as the recipient of the
2016 Good Government Award at its annual Good Government Breakfast on September 28th at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, New Jersey.

Presented annually to an industry leader who demonstrates excellence in public affairs advocacy, the Good Government Award is the most prestigious public policy recognition bestowed on a New Jersey food industry member.

“Tom regularly volunteers his time, expertise and experience with numerous issues facing our industry,” said NJFC President & CEO Linda Doherty. “He frequently travels to meetings all over the state to share that experience directly with legislators and provide support for our policy efforts.”

“Legislators, opinion makers and political leaders cannot evaluate the impact of every piece of legislation and regulation on the food industry unless we share with them our views and our unique knowledge and expertise on the issues,” Doherty continued.  “Tom uniquely understands the impact that advocacy and political action have in fostering good government policies that support the food industry.”

Tom has 33 years of experience in the food retail industry and currently serves as Director of Government Affairs for Ahold USA, which operates supermarkets in 12 states as well as on-line grocery home delivery businesses, such as Peapod for Stop and Shop.  Tom is active with a number of state and national trade associations and business groups, including the Food Marketing Association and the National Retail Federation, which advocate on behalf of the retail food industry.  Tom lives in Glenelg, Maryland with his wife, Kathy, and their two sons, Kyle and Branden.

The FCCfGG will also honor Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-1) and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) as Legislators of the Year for their efforts in support of the New Jersey food industry. Additionally, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett will be presented with the Thomas W. Kelly Government Service Award.

vandrew_color“Senator Van Drew and Assemblyman Ciattarelli have both been strong advocates for the food industry in Trenton, supporting policies that help grow our businesses while opposing harmful tax increases,” said Doherty.  “Now more than ever, it is extremely critical that we have strong allies on both sides of the aisle like Jeff and Jack, ensuring the voice of the food industry is heard in Trenton.”

Senator Jeff VanDrew is in his third term in representing the first Legislative District which includes Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland Counties in the New Jersey State Senate. Over the last 3 years, Senator Van Drew boasts the top legislative score of any New Jersey Democrat on issues important to our industry according to FCCfGG’s internal scorecard.  In fact, this year Senator Van Drew was one of only a handful of Democrats in Trenton to break with his party and oppose a $15 minimum hourly wage.

ciattarelli_color In 2011, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli was elected to represent the 16th Legislative District in the General Assembly in a district that includes towns in Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset Councies.  Since he first entered the Legislature, Assemblyman Ciattarelli has been an ally of the food industry, and to the business community overall, sponsoring multiple bills supported by the Food Council and accumulating one of the highest overall legislator scores on the annual FCCfGG internal scorecard. Last session, Assemblyman Ciattarelli worked with the Food Council and our other coalition members to advocate for a State Legislative Resolution in support of a national standard for GMO labeling rather than onerous and confusing state standards.

Additionally, FCCfGG will present New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett with the Thomas W. Kelly Government Service Award.  The award is named after the Food Council’s former colleague, the late Tom Kelly, who served in state government as the Superintendent of Weights and Measures before joining the Food Council.

“We’re pleased to recognize Commissioner Bennett with the 201commiss_acting6 Thomas W. Kelly Government Service Award,” said Doherty.  “Her insight into working with food retailers to further support WIC clients has been exceptional. We’re grateful to the Commissioner for her leadership, accessibility and understanding of the important role food stores play in keeping New Jersey communities healthy.”

Cathleen Bennett began serving as Commissioner of the Department of Health on August 3, 2015 after serving as Director of Policy and Strategic Planning since 2010.  As head of the Policy and Strategic Planning, she directed strategic public health and healthcare delivery initiatives.


About FCCfGG

Since its formation, the FCCfGG has been instrumental in promoting good relations between elected officials, candidates for office, and the food industry. NJFC members have the ability to learn about the ideas and opinions of their leaders and candidates on a number of issues which may impact their businesses, as well as communicate their views on important issues to the candidates for public office.

To register for the event, or for more information, please contact Kori Little-Buro at kburo@njfoodcouncil.com or by phone at 609-392-8899.

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.  For more information, visit www.njfoodcouncil.com

2016-2017 Leadership Development Program Applications are Now Available!

Leadership Brochure CoverThe New Jersey Food Council launched a Food Council Leadership Development Program two years ago.  This was a new program for future leaders who have a passion for working in the food industry, possess an interest in the dynamics and trends of government, and who want to make a difference in the direction of this industry.  This program combines elements of mentoring, organizational education, leadership training, policy trends, and guided experiences.

The current class is scheduled to graduate at the Good Government Breakfast which will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the Forsgate Country Club, Monroe Township, NJ on September 28.

We are now accepting applications for the 2016-2017 program.  The brochure and nomination form can be downloaded here.  If you are interested or would like to nominate someone to participate in this program, please forward the completed nomination form to the New Jersey Food Council, 30 W. Lafayette Street, Trenton, NJ, 08608, njfc@njfoodcouncil.com or fax it to (609) 396-6571 by August 15, 2016.  PLEASE NOTE THAT THE NOMINEE MUST AGREE TO PARTICIPATE IN ALL ELEMENTS OF THE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM AS NOTED IN THE PROGRAM OUTLINE (I.E. ATTEND ALL DESIGNATED MEETINGS, ETC.). 

If you have any questions, please call the office at (609) 392-8899.