Wakefern Formally Unveils New Elizabeth, N.J., Warehouse

Wakefern celebrated the opening of its newest warehouse facility in Elizabeth, N.J. The 524,000-square-foot facility replaces the former Wakefern grocery warehouse at the same site. It increases the company’s storage capabilities by more than 58 percent and will better distribute non-perishable food products to ShopRite, Price Rite and The Fresh Grocer stores in the Northeast.

The new facility, which features 36-foot ceilings, will add 150 jobs over a 10-year period.

In June of 2011, Wakefern transitioned its non-perishable operations to a temporary facility in Carteret, N.J., to allow for the demolition and reconstruction of its original grocery warehouse in Elizabeth, which was built in the late 1950s.

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Wegmans Begins Operations Of Cheese Caves

On April 7, Wegmans Food Markets began full operations at its Cheese Caves, a one-of-a-kind, high-tech building that mimics the environments of famed cheese caves in Europe.

Wegmans’ facility is believed to be the first such facility among supermarket chains in America, and in time is likely to become a “game-changer” in how artisanal cheeses in this country are finished and distributed for sale.

For customers, the chief benefit will be a consistent level of product quality that was previously unattainable. “Our customers will get a cheese that’s absolutely perfect, with the taste and texture they prefer, every time,” says Cathy Gaffney, director of specialty cheeses, deli and kosher deli for Wegmans.

The 12,300-square-foot building houses a Brie room and seven “caves” where soft cheeses like Camembert and washed-rind cheeses such as Bourbon-Washed Pie d’Angloys will be coaxed into a special flavor. As many as eight different kinds of cheeses can be ripened within the facility at the same time. Each “cave” is 185 to 200 square feet and houses only one type of cheese at a time, so the flora from one type never mixes with those from other kinds. Temperatures and relative humidity are controlled separately for each cave and a generator assures continuous power in case of a power failure.

On a separate but related track, Wegmans and Cornell University have created a pilot program that will help more artisanal cheese makers in New York State develop the expertise they need to create world-class products. Wegmans made a $360,000 gift to Cornell in support of that pilot program.

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Big Y Installing New Dairy Doors In 25 Stores

As part of ongoing efforts to support a healthier environment and to improve the customer experience, Big Y World Class Markets will be installing dairy case doors in 25 stores this spring.

The doors allow up to a 70 percent reduction in energy consumption over the existing open-air customer self-service cases. Additionally, all case lighting is being changed over to LED bulbs.

Closed doors seal the cold air in more effectively and, in turn, provide enhanced product quality. They also offer improved shopping comfort, as shoppers can expect a warmer walk down the dairy aisle.

According to Gary Kuchyt, manager of energy and sustainability for Big Y Foods, “We feel these enhancements provide an added value to the customers and our contribution to caring for the environment.”

Big Y installed the doors in six locations last year and plans to have 27 more completed by the end of 2014. The chain plans to complete the remainder of the chain in 2015-16.

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Latest Word in Supermarket News...

Ahold USA announced that Amy Hahn has been appointed to the newly created position of senior vice president of marketing, effective April 28. Based in Carlisle, Pa., she will lead and drive the critical initiatives of strategic marketing, market insights & analytics, advertising, promotion, brand development, corporate communications, innovation, digital strategy and execution. She also will be responsible for developing digital retailing and loyalty plans. Ms. Hahn joins Ahold USA after more than 20 years with The Hershey Co., where she established a reputation for driving revenue and profitability through innovation in strategy, product development, merchandising, marketing and category management.

• The Deli Patrol, a Massachusetts-based family-owned producer of artisanal deli products, has been tapped by Market Basket to develop two all new, all-natural deli meats for chainwide distribution in the grocer’s stores throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

• General Mills has become the latest food manufacturer to develop a product, oatmeal, to be cooked with a Keurig coffee machine.

• Poland Springs will donate $250,000 in continued support of One Fund Boston.

• Kraft announced a 96,000 pound hot dog recall over a mislabeling issue. Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners are voluntarily recalled because the products may contain Classic Cheese Dogs in the Classic Wiener packages. The products were made in early March and bear the number "Est.537H inside the USDA mark of inspection.

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