A truly great publication cannot be willed into existence. Instead, it erupts, like a volcano, when the time is right. Both a volcano and a magazine are the result of great subterranean forces working unremittingly for long periods of time.
The issue of DELI BUSINESS you hold in your hands is the first national magazine to serve the deli/retail foodservice industry and marks the coming of age of an industry. What was once a fragmented trade of, on the supply side, regional suppliers serving specific ethnic markets and, on the buying side, chains with widely varying commitments to deli has been transformed.
Today, scarcely a supermarket is built without a deli, and, very often, delis that were once defined as places to sell sliced meat, sliced cheese, and smoked fish are now full retail foodservice operations with rotisserie chicken, wok stations, pizza programs, even sushi bars, food courts and sit-down restaurants. Suppliers that once didn’t ship farther than they could drive and return home in a day now have merged, acquired and expanded to ship nationally.
One observation immediately apparent about today’s deli/retail foodservice operations is that they require a great deal of collaboration. Suppliers don’t just sell a product, they often provide programs, whether it’s a pizza program, a chicken program or a branded foodservice concept.
Well, a magazine is no different; it requires collaboration as well.
The specific genesis of this magazine was when I met a dynamo of a woman named Lee Smith. In the fullness of time, she came to me with an idea. She had been working in supermarkets and convenience stores for most of her professional life. When she worked for Kings in New Jersey and Red Apple in New York, she had felt the pleasures and benefits of a tight-knit local deli community. When she worked at A.J. Bayless in Arizona, she felt, acutely, how much less effective one can become without that kind of community to turn to.
When she went on to work at Wawa Stores in Pennsylvania and then later to run a successful consultancy with deli manufacturers, she began to see the desirability of creating that deli community on a national basis, a place for an exchange of information on a regular basis. In the fullness of time, that initial idea blossomed into the magazine you see before you, and Lee Smith became its publisher.
Of course, as if to show the connectedness of all things, Lee came to me with the idea because of another magazine, one named PRODUCE BUSINESS, which Ken Whitacre, now Publishing Director of DELI BUSINESS, and I launched over a decade ago. That magazine, founded on the belief that the produce industry has reached a moment in which it merited and required a new national voice, has since grown and thrived to become, without question, the largest and most influential magazine in the industry.
That magazine and a later acquisition, AMERICAN FOOD AND AG EXPORTER, magazine serving non-U.S. buyers of American food and agricultural products, have set our standards: Incisive editorial, industry commitment, a dedication to not merely report on an industry, but to be an active part of an industry, working to elevate it to what it can become. These standards and more will be reflected in every issue of DELI BUSINESS.
Of course, the antecedents to any event go back a long time. In many ways, the genesis of this magazine dates back to days in my childhood spent growing up in my family’s supermarkets. In retail operations in New Jersey – later sold to Waldbaum’s – and in Puerto Rico – later sold to Pueblo – I learned what it means to be a retailer, to deal with consumers, employees, and suppliers. In time, I became an exporter, importer, and shipper of perishables of all types to and from the far corners of the globe.
Even more than my personal work experiences, though, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, where dinner table conversation was focused on business. As such, a magazine such as DELI BUSINESS, with all its ability to reach out and help people do their job or run their business better, is a natural outgrowth of a life spent inquiring how we can work better.
In finding the answers to these queries I am very fortunate. This project has been made possible only by acts of selfless dedication on the part of countless people. Our editorial advisory board has committed time and intelligence to helping us create a new industry institution. Although the board will continue to grow and change in the months and years ahead, let me express my great appreciation to those members of the editorial advisory board that helped us prior to launch.
Our own team has accepted no compromises in the quest to create a publication of value and interest. There have been late nights, early mornings, weekends and holidays away from friends and family, and I am awed and humbled at the intensity with which every member of this great team has seized this project and made it his or her own. A special thanks to the members of the launch team: Theresa Braine; Esther DeCapua; Mike Duff; Chad Gamble; Aline Gharakhanian; Fran Gruskin; Leslie Kennedy; Diana Levine; Toby Levine; Steve Liput; Jim Molzen; Eric Nieman; Mike Nissley; Jennifer Pellet; Brent Reuman; Barbara Robison; Alexandra Salas Rojas; Ela Schwartz; Karen Thuermer; Reginald Tucker; and Lisa White.
A special thanks also to our advertisers in this issue and to those whom have already put us in their budgets for future issues. It is their financial support that makes this venture possible and, though all of us at DELI BUSINESS will work very hard to ensure that these firms do well as result of their ads, the industry should not overlook the contribution to the trade that these firms make by supporting this magazine as a service to better the industry.
Yet, in the end, of course, a magazine cannot truly be created by publishers or editors or dedicated industry leaders or advertisers. A magazine is brought to life by readers. For a magazine is but lifeless paper and ink until it is read and the images within are given life as they are applied in countless stores and pondered in uncounted minds.
This magazine is not mine, nor Ken’s nor Lee’s. It belongs neither to its advertisers nor its investors nor its editors. This magazine is yours. Write us, call us, e-mail us to let us know how we are doing. Please help us to make it better.
Everyone reading this issue can say one thing; they were present at the creation of a new institution for this industry.