Gaston Diaz, one of the most highly-respected members of the Florida food industry, has died at the age of 85. Diaz passed away on the evening of November 19. In the span of his over six decade career, Diaz was a mentor, confidant and friend to independent retailers throughout Florida’s Gold Coast. During his career which covered both wholesale distribution and retail sales, he played a major role in the success of many independent retail store owner/operators.
Gaston Armando Diaz Ruiz was born May 12, 1931 in Camaguey, Cuba. His father Gilberto Diaz was an attorney and judge. His mother, Clemencia Ruiz, dedicated herself to the family’s home.
Diaz was completing his law career when Castro came to power at which time he had to flee the country. He was among the early influx of political refugees to the United States. Upon arriving in New York, he got a job as a porter and later bag boy. During his time in the New York market with companies Pathmark and ShopRite, he would progress from Grocery Manager to ultimately Store Director. During the 1970’s, he was hired by Kmart Foods where he transferred to South Florida. Diaz joined Hill Brothers, a Miami-based wholesaler that was later acquired by Malone & Hyde, before it too was acquired by Fleming Companies. In the 1990’s, Diaz left Flemings to join Associated Grocers of Florida, Inc. as a retail counselor, and went to Southeast Wholesale Foods in 2005. The people that Diaz worked with during his career in South Florida read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the Florida Market: Tom Milam, John Adams, Steve Moll, Calvin Miller and Rich Bauer.
Diaz was well-known and respected by all within the food industry. “Gaston mentored a lot people who grew and became successful,” SWF Manager, Tony Palacios told TODAY’S GROCER.
Diaz is survived by four daughters: Maria Huergo-DeMartino, a business sales executive; Leticia Diaz, attorney and law school dean; Veronica Diaz, Registered Nurse and Hortencia Di Girolamo, teacher and six grandchildren: Albert, Emily, Danny, Dagoberto, Mallory and Santino. Surviving brothers and sisters include: Gilberto, Raul, Aurora and Otto Diaz.
Memorial services were held at Bernardo Garcia Funeral Home in Miami, Florida.
THANK YOU to Pepe Rohaidy for his assistance to this story.
December 1, 2016
Goya Foods Opens Sustainable Production Facility in New Jersey
Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States, has opened a 240,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art and sustainable production facility in Secaucus, New Jersey as part of a $250 million investment.
The facility, equipped to manufacture and distribute over 4 million cases of Goya products annually, features new production machinery with cutting edge technology, including a continuous motion line that produces 600 boxes of Goya's rice mixes per minute, six times faster than the company's past production capability. "The opening of our new production facility in Secaucus, along with our current headquarters in Jersey City, not only enables us to operate more efficiently and cost effectively but most importantly, extends 80 years of Goya's heritage in providing our consumers with authentic, high quality and affordable Latin products," says Bob Unanue, President of Goya Foods.
Committed to the construction of environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly facilities, Goya's new facility is also equipped with 6,552 solar panels on 3.7 acres of rooftop to generate over 70% of the building's energy supply and provide a net zero carbon foot-print. Goya is currently working on the installation of rail service, located alongside the facility, which will significantly reduce transportation costs, traffic congestion and fuel consumption.
The opening of Goya's new facility reinforces the company's role as an important and long standing member of New Jersey's business community and ensures the retention of over 61 existing local jobs and 16 new positions. In total, Goya has 26 facilities and employs over 4,500 people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Spain. In 2014-2015, Goya opened up four new facilities in Texas, California, Georgia and the company's current headquarters in Jersey City. Goya's cutting edge, high tech facilities will maintain its mission to produce over 2,500 authentic and affordable products with premium quality and superior taste to national and global markets.
December 1, 2016
Badia Spices Garlic Goes Pink
To Promote Breast Cancer Awareness
For the sixth consecutive year Badia Spices, one of today’s leading family-owned Hispanic food companies, is commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness by partnering with National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. (NBCF). Through this philanthropic partnership, Badia Spices hopes to help expand awareness for breast cancer while raising much needed funds to support the Foundation’s mission of Helping Women Now through early detection, education and support services.
NBCF is one of the most trusted breast cancer charities in the nation. For twelve years, NBCF has received the highest 4-star rating by Charity Navigator, America’s premier charity evaluator. Each year, over 80% of their revenue is directed to their life-saving programs, and NBCF has grown to include partners in all 50 states.
Badia prepares, packages and ships more than 400 different products to more than 70 countries worldwide, which includes the entire United States. Badia is committed to offering their consumers premier quality, at the best prices. In just five years, with the help of its consumers around the world, Badia Spices has raised over $570,000 to benefit NBCF.
“We are so thankful for the continued support of Badia Spices,” said Danae Johnson, Senior Director of Development, NBCF. “Their passion for our cause and their generosity in supporting our programs make them a valued partner in our mission of Helping Women Now.”
“As a father of three daughters, I am honored to once again partner with National Breast Cancer Foundation to help promote and fund their mission of Helping Women Now through early detection, education and support services. We are grateful that our consumers support this initiative and hope to make a long-term impact on improving women’s health care through our partnership with NBCF,” Joseph “Pepe” Badia, President, Badia Spices told TODAY’S GROCER.
November 2, 2016
Riboli Family Wine Estates Kicks Off Centennial Celebration
At Original Location in Downtown Los Angeles
Two generations of the Riboli family were present at the official kickoff of San Antonio Winery’s centennial celebration in October, as government officials presented special certificates and congratulations on reaching this special milestone. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard presented the family with a copy of a Congressional record submitted in recognition of the winery’s 100 years as Los Angeles’ largest, longest-producing winery.
Ana Guerrero, Chief of Staff to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, presented a certificate from the city expressing the mayor’s gratitude. L.A. Councilmembers Jose Huizar and Gil Cedillo also presented certificates, expressing their appreciation for the winery and its special contribution to the community. Patriarch Stefano Riboli, 95, and matriarch Maddalena, 93, still frequent the winery daily, but couldn’t make it to the event. Their son Steve Riboli, third generation vice president, said they had a simple message for everyone as he cut the ribbon, “On to another 100!”
Founded in 1917, San Antonio Winery is the largest and longest-producing winery in Los Angeles, making it an essential component of the city’s cultural and historical landscape. Still at its original location on Lamar Street, just east of Chinatown and Union Station, the winery is the last vestige of the rich winemaking tradition of greater L.A. Four generations of family contribute to the winery’s success. Its vineyards are located in Rutherford, Monterey, and Paso Robles where the family recently celebrated the Grand Opening of a new winery, proving its readiness for another successful 100 years. It is also the most awarded winery in Southern California. Follow San Antonio Winery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit www.sanantoniowinery.com.
October 15, 2016
■ ‘The Show’ to Close
FMI Announces it will Disconnect FMI Connect
Will Explore New, Focused and More Flexible Events
Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has shocked the food industry, following an announcement by its Executive Committee of the FMI Board of Directors, that it will retire the 2017 FMI Show, known as FMI Connect, originally scheduled to be held in Chicago next June. The largest food show in the United States-and possibly in the world has been a fixture of McCormick Place Convention Center along the shore of Lake Michigan for over 40 years. In recent years, it has presented an increasing challenge to FMI to mount, profitably. Chain and independent store owners and operators would annually gather in Chicago, traditionally around Kentucky Derby time for the event. They would be joined by large contingents of grocers from every conceivable country around the world. In recent years, FMI has altered the date and location of the show and had re-named it FMI Connect – all in an attempt to add some new luster to the event. It still remained the place for ‘movers and shakers’ and decision makers to converge on, meet new and re-establish old industry contacts, and remain current on the latest in products and technology.
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin offered the following statement to its members announcing the association’s refocused events strategy:
“After much deliberation and guidance from the FMI Executive Committee of our Board of Directors, we came to the decision to no longer host FMI Connect 2017. As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude was not reached easily.
“At FMI we continue to believe that events designed to bring together the entire food retail industry and their partners for meaningful conversation, education, exploration and networking are desired and needed, but we have concluded these gatherings should occur in a framework that differs from the current FMI Connect design. We also recognize that in recent years this event has fallen short of achieving the precise formula necessary for meeting today’s industry needs, particularly as the industry continues to change and evolve so quickly.
“FMI aims at all times to be as agile and as bold as required to serve the needs of our members as well as the broader food industry. Therefore, we must design new occasions more appropriate to the faster paced rhythms of food retail, and in unique formats more attuned to the specific needs of our industry. With the elimination of having to fill football fields’ worth of space as ‘The Show’ configuration required, FMI will be liberated to explore new, focused and more flexible events.
“Of course, even when it is right and for the best, change is difficult. We appreciate the understanding of our members, partners, supporters, vendors, the city of Chicago and friends as we work through the many implications this tough decision has for us and more importantly, as we shape future directions for our members and their trading partners.
“The industry we serve is learning it must rethink and, when appropriate, redesign all aspects of its business, including everything from customer service to checkout, and from the number of items on the shelves to innovative ways of getting products to shoppers. Likewise, FMI must adapt and look with fresh eyes at the opportunities this new frontier holds, even when it requires letting go of old methods that hold places in our hearts.
“As always, we are grateful for your support. We look forward to hearing your ideas as together we plot and blaze new paths in our journey to feeding families and enriching lives.”