The Butter Up! contest whipped up some at-home excitement before the Pennsylvania Farm Show officially kicked off earlier this week.
In December, the PA Farm Show and Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) partnered for the second amateur butter sculpting contest. The interactive at-home contest is a nod to the popular 1,000-pound butter sculpture revealed at the start of each PA Farm Show.
Garret McCall of Cambria County earned the top spot for the second straight year. Congratulations to all the Butter Up! winners:
Entries were submitted mid-December from across the state. The nine winners, voted on by friends of the PA Farm Show Facebook page, showed their sculpting skills by depicting produce, dairy and animals. Each winner and runner up received a gift card donated by members of PFMA.
“We were thrilled to participate in this fun virtual experience for Pennsylvanians once again, and the results did not disappoint,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “These entries helped to celebrate and recognize the work put in by our friends at the Farm Show and in the dairy industry. Thank you to all who entered and to our PFMA members for donating prizes.”
The Butter Up! contest first started in January 2021 to create engaging online activities during the virtual PA Farm Show. “Pennsylvanians anticipate the unveiling of the 1,000-pound sculpture signaling that the Pennsylvania Farm Show has arrived,” added Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “In 2021 and 2022, the Butter Up! contest has been one more way to tell the story of the hardworking people of the PA dairy industry who feed our economy and our families day in and day out. Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association members are part of that story.”
The 2022 PA Farm Show butter sculpture highlights strength in diversity and unity. Sponsored by the American Dairy Association North East, it features urban and rural agriculturalists coming together while toasting glasses of milk.
PFMA was pleased to support the event, the Farm Show and our partners in agriculture and dairy. A special thanks goes to our members The GIANT Company, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Wegmans, Square One Markets and Giant Eagle/GetGo for contributing prizes.
What a year! Even as PFMA and our members navigated changing pandemic regulations, we met demand, devised
solutions, inspired change and got it done.
With that in mind, we are sharing some of our PFMA successes from 2021:
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association welcomes Charles Irons, Market Director for McLane Company, Inc., to its Board of Directors.
Irons spent the first part of his career working as a division manager in North Alabama for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company. He managed 2,400 accounts and 10 sales representatives. In this role, he oversaw sales responsibilities for 15 distributor accounts and 24 convenience store accounts. He developed marketing plans for six specific geographical assignments during his tenure.
In 2009, Irons started his career with McLane Company as Market Director. He has led management responsibilities for Circle K, Thorntons, TravelCenters of America, Speedway, EG America and QuickChek, along with several regional accounts. Currently, he is responsible for teammates in the Northeast portion of the United States, which encompasses 13 states.
Irons was a mentor during the first McLane Sales Mentoring Program and led new sales hire training nationally.
“We are excited to welcome Charles and the experience he brings to the PFMA Board of Directors,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “McLane is a longtime supporter of the association, and we value having their voice on the board.”
Irons graduated from the University of North Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management. He is a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity.
He served as president of the Kentucky Wholesale and Distributor Association, executive board member of the Kentucky Grocers and Convenience Store Association, and president of Austin Touchdown Club and Decatur Youth Soccer.
Grab your butter knives and roll up your sleeves! The Butter Up! Contest is back ahead of the 2022 Pennsylvania Farm Show.
The PA Farm Show and Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) have again partnered for this amateur butter sculpting contest. Entries are being accepted now through noon on Friday, Dec. 17.
“Entries from the first contest blew us away! Excitement was high, and it showed through the creativity and skills of all who participated,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “We are happy to bring back the contest and support our friends at the Farm Show and in the dairy industry. Special thanks to our PFMA members for donating prizes.”
Inspired by the PA Farm Show’s infamous 1,000-pound butter sculpture tradition, this mini virtual contest encourages Pennsylvanians to churn up Farm Show-themed designs at home. The friendly competition highlights the hard work and dedication of Pennsylvania’s dairy industry.
Any Pennsylvanian can create butter sculptures at home and submit entries to be judged on the PA Farm Show Facebook page. Each sculpture can use up to 5 pounds of butter, plus wire and a base for support. Entries are judged in six age categories: 5 and under, elementary, middle school, high school, adult and senior.
Get the complete rules, regulations and details on how to enter.
A winner and runner up will be named in each category. PFMA members The GIANT Company, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Wegmans, Square One Markets and Giant Eagle/GetGo have donated $50 and $25 gift cards for winners and runners up in each age group.
“Every year, millions tune in to see the unveiling of a 1,000-pound sculpture to kick off our annual Pennsylvania Farm Show,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Butter sculptures shine a spotlight on the goodness of Pennsylvania dairy and the hardworking people who keep nutritious products on our tables year-round. Now everyone can get into the act and show off their creativity with one of Pennsylvania’s favorite products.”
The Butter Up! contest first started in January 2021 to create engaging online activities during the virtual PA Farm Show. More than 130 people entered and countless PA Farm Show Facebook fans voted. Entries ranged from farm animals to barn scenes to apple pie.
The winner, Garrett McCall, submitted a detailed sculpture of The Good Shepherd. In September, he was invited to create a 20-pound butter sculpture depicting the 2022 PA Farm Show theme Harvesting More.
Good luck to this year’s participants!
Eligible students can now apply for the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association 2022 Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship. The one-year scholarship offers students $2,500 for the 2022-2023 academic year.
PFMA is excited to announce that the scholarship amount has increased by $500 this year, providing all recipients with $2,500. Another distinction for the 2022 scholarship is that all applications must be made online.
Current employees, their children and the children of company owners who are PFMA members can apply for the scholarship at PFMA.org/scholarships. All applications are due no later than March 1, 2022.
“Attaining a college degree can present many challenges. We hope that providing this scholarship will ease some of the financial challenges students may face so they can focus on their education. We’re thrilled to provide additional funding to recipients this year,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “We are especially grateful for the generous support from our partners, including The GIANT Company, Karns Quality Foods, Rutter’s, Sheetz and Wawa.”
A panel of judges evaluates applications based on academic record, school and community involvement, a personal essay and recommendations from school and work.
In 2021, 22 students received a total of $45,000 through the program. Since its inception 25 years ago, 600 students have received the Ridge Scholarships, totaling nearly $1.2 million.
Named for the parents of former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the Ridge Scholarship honors Thomas R. Ridge, who was a member of the food industry for 25 years, and his wife Laura, who was a great advocate of education for Tom Ridge, his brother David and sister Vikki.
PFMA concludes successful Fall Legislative Conference featuring keynote speaker Treasurer Garrity and latest developments in food retail
The “sweetest place on earth” provided a perfect backdrop for networking and educational activities during the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) Fall Legislative Conference this week.
The two-day conference brought together PFMA members from around the commonwealth to discuss the latest federal, state and local policy measures impacting the food retail and wholesale industry.
After a day of golf on Hershey Country Club’s East Course, conference guests enjoyed a reception and dinner followed by a keynote address from Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity. On the second conference day, Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson provided attendees with an update from Washington, D.C., before a slate of educational breakout sessions began.
Treasurer Garrity thanked those in food retail for “being on the front lines since Day One.” Through her keynote, she shared her remarkable record of service with the U.S. Army and her experience as a top businesswoman, stressing the importance of remaining transparent in her role and providing new financial opportunities for Pennsylvanians.
During breakfast Wednesday, Congressman Thompson updated attendees on the recent work of the House Agriculture Committee, highlighting supply and demand issues, rural broadband expansion and labor shortages. “It’s time for Congress to empower hardworking Americans to get off the sidelines and back into the workforce so that we can alleviate our supply chain bottlenecks, especially as we enter the holiday season,” he said.
The conference breakout sessions spanned topics including CBD and cannabis regulation, the emergence of cryptocurrency, alcohol delivery laws in Pennsylvania, and the latest on federal infrastructure legislation moving through Congress.
“There are so many moving parts impacting our members in food retail today,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “This conference provides a valuable opportunity to gather in person and explore important legislative and industry news. Thank you to all those who attended. Special thanks to Treasurer Garrity for her time and support, and to all of our presenters.”
PFMA is grateful to the attendees, presenters, sponsors and the venue who made the conference possible.
The PFMA 2022 Annual Conference is scheduled for June 14 and 15 at the Gettysburg Hotel and Gettysburg Visitor Center and Museum. Details are forthcoming.
The NACS recently announced members of its Legislative Committee, welcoming Alex Baloga, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, to serve for the new term.
NACS is the leading global trade association focused on supporting and advancing convenience and fuel retailers. The association supports 1,500 retail and 1,600 supplier members in more than 50 countries. The NACS Legislative Committee offers subject-specific guidance to the NACS Board of Directors and staff, which enhances the value to its members.
“It’s an honor to be asked to serve on committee for an organization that holds such a high reputation," Baloga said. "The PA Food Merchants Association represents hundreds of conveniences stores in the state and values the support NACS provides to our members.”
Baloga became PFMA president and CEO in 2017. After joining PFMA in 2013 as director of government relations, he was promoted to director of government and public relations in 2014 and to vice president of external relations in 2015.
He serves on the Classification and Ratings Committee for the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau. He is a board member on the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund. In 2021, he joined the Food Industry Association Executives (FIAE) Board of Directors as well as the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association Board of Directors. In addition, he represents PFMA members on the Pennsylvania Lottery Sales Advisory Council.
Baloga previously served as deputy finance director for Robert P. Casey’s re-election campaign for U.S. Senator, where he directed the fundraising activities in central Pennsylvania. He has extensive contacts from his experience as an associate lobbyist for Greenlee Partners, LLC, a premier government relations firm with offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
He worked in U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s Government office as a regional field manager, serving as the senator’s liaison to government, community and constituent groups in central Pennsylvania; monitoring local issues and developments and representing Senator Casey at civic meetings and community events.
Baloga earned his bachelor’s degree in history with a specialty in political science from West Virginia University.
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) has chosen the winners of its 2021 Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship. Twenty-two students who represent PFMA’s membership earned the scholarships based on their academic record, school and community involvement, a submitted essay and required recommendations.
“Congratulations to these deserving students on all of their hard work. We’re thrilled to provide these scholarships to help them in their college pursuits,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “Thank you to our generous PFMA members for their contributions to the Ridge Scholarship program. It would not be possible without their commitment.”
This spring, an independent judging panel evaluated scholarship applications to choose the 22 recipients. Recipients must work for a PFMA member or be the child of an employee or company owner that is a PFMA member. Each student received between $2,000 and $2,500, with a total of $45,000 awarded in 2021. Recipients are sponsored by PFMA members that contribute to the Ridge Fund Endowment, including The GIANT Company, Karns Quality Foods, Rutter’s, Sheetz and Wawa.
This year’s recipients are listed below with their goals in higher education. The scholarship amount and sponsoring business are listed in parentheses.
Kiersten Barr of Havertown, Pa., plans to attend Clemson University and major in microbiology, with a concentration in biomedicine. ($2,000; Wawa)
Katherine Calderone of Camp Hill, Pa., plans to attend West Chester University of Pennsylvania and major in chemistry. ($2,000;PFMA)
Ethan Cramer of York, Pa, plans to attend Penn State York and major in architectural engineering. ($2,500; Rutter's)
Saidy Marisol Cruz Martinez of Elkin, N.C., plans to attend Appalachian State University and major in building sciences, architectural technology and design, with a minor in sustainable design. ($2,000; Sheetz)
Holly Deemer of DuBois, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in supply chain and information systems, with a minor in information sciences and technology. ($2,000; PFMA)
Michael Engles of Sykesville, Md., plans to attend Salisbury University and major in marketing. ($2,000; PFMA)
Molly Gill of Lewisburg, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in computer science, with a minor in mathematics. ($2,000; PFMA)
Kylee Harvey of Kennett Square, Pa., plans to attend Sacred Heart University and earn her master’s in criminal justice. ($2,000; Wawa)
Norah Kelly of Scranton, Pa., plans to attend the University of Notre Dame as an undecided student. ($2,000; PFMA)
Erin Kiple of Burlington, N.J., plans to attend Stockton University to major in nursing. ($2,000; Wawa)
Delia Morchesky of Carrolltown, Pa., plans to attend Savannah College of Art and Design to major in animation. ($2,000; PFMA)
Peter Murnane of West Chester, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in mechanical engineering. ($2,000; The GIANT Company).
Caroline Nagle of Altoona, Pa., plans to attend Lock Haven University to study as a pre-physician assistant and minor Spanish. ($2,000; Sheetz)
Shannon O'Malley of Fairless Hills, Pa., plans to attend The University of Alabama and major in anthropology, with a minor in liberal arts. ($2,000; Wawa)
Riya Patel of Coatesville, Pa., plans to attend Rutgers University and major in cognitive science, with minors in biological sciences and health and society. ($2,000; The GIANT Company)
Hayden Perrone of Phoenixville, Pa., plans to attend Penn State Berks and major in biology. ($2,000; The GIANT Company)
Mark Pottman of York, Pa., plans to attend Kutztown University and major in cinema, television and media production. ($2,500; Rutter's)
Nolan Pye of Doylestown, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in chemical engineering. ($2,000; The GIANT Company)
Kaitlyn Sheriff of Landisburg, Pa., plans to attend Lycoming College and major in astrophysics, with minors in computer science and mathematics. ($2,000; Karns Quality Foods)
Sandya Subramanian of Bridgewater, N.J., plans to attend Boston University and major in medical science, with a minor in Latin. ($2,000; PFMA)
Garrit Witters of Elizabethtown, Pa., plans to attend Rochester Institute of Technology and major in computing security. ($2,000; The GIANT Company)
Donald Yealy of New Oxford, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in forest ecosystem management. ($2,000; PFMA)
Established in 1996, the Ridge Scholarship honors the parents of former Gov. Tom Ridge. Thomas R. Ridge was a member of the food industry for 25 years, and his wife, Laura, was a great advocate of education for their three children: Tom, David and Vikki. To date, 600 students have earned Ridge Scholarships, and more than $1.1 million has been awarded.
Shelf Confidence, a new podcast launched by the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association this week, focuses on trending and innovative initiatives in the food and beverage retail industry.
The biweekly podcast features PFMA members who discuss how their organization approaches topics like environmental initiatives, food waste, sustainable packaging, the beyond the meat trend and more. PFMA has more than 800 members representing convenience stores, supermarkets, independent grocers, wholesalers, consumer product vendors, national and regional chain stores and locally owned independent retailers of all sizes operating in Pennsylvania.
In the first episode, host Liz Kemmery chatted with Jessica Groves, social impact manager at The GIANT Company, about the company’s steps toward greater sustainability and what that means for its community. The episode highlights The GIANT Company’s Healing the Planet initiative, which includes new partnerships with the FlashFood App and Rodale Institute.
“This new podcast provides another way for PFMA and its members to stay in front of trending issues in our industry,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “A big thank you to Jessica for sharing these exciting projects at The GIANT Company. Stay tuned for more great interviews with our members.”
Upcoming episodes will feature Andrea Karns of Karns Quality Foods discussing the popularity of the home meal kit trend and Lisa Luben of Country Fair talking about how the Erie-based convenience store chain has turned around food waste to help its community.
Shelf Confidence will post a new episode every other Wednesday morning. The podcast is available to download on pfma.org, or listen and subscribe to Shelf Confidence on Spotify. It will soon be available on Apple and Google podcasts.
During the 2021 Annual Conference board meeting in June, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association welcomed three new members to its board. Mike Mammone, Senior Director of Customer Experience for the Robesonia division of C&S Wholesale Grocers, was appointed board secretary. Bill Lipsky, Vice President of Merchandising with Shop n Save Pittsburgh for UNFI, and Chuck Tullis, Senior Vice President at Utz Quality Foods, joined the board as members at large.
PFMA is a statewide trade association that advocates for the interests of the food and beverage retail industry. It is led by a 37-member Board of Directors that includes retail and associate members. This volunteer group shapes the association’s agenda. Members are elected to unlimited three-year terms.
“We are thankful to have a strong and active PFMA board. The additions of Mike, Bill and Chuck and the experience they bring to the board will benefit the association and its membership,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “Thank you to our new and current members for their dedication and guidance.”
Mammone was named board secretary to replace Meg Mitchell, VP of Customer Experience at C&S Wholesale Grocers. He joined C&S in October 2019 as Senior Director of Business Development, overseeing growth for the Grocers Supply Division. Prior to joining C&S, he spent 30 years with SUPERVALU/UNFI where he increased roles of responsibility in the areas of GM/HBC, retail pricing, real estate, finance, credit, business development and sales. Mammone previously worked with UNFI as Director of Sales for the western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Eastern Ohio markets.
For the past three years, Lipsky has served as Vice President of Merchandising with Shop n Save Pittsburgh for UNFI. His team is responsible for merchandising and marketing for the 80-plus independently owned and operated Shop n Save Stores in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and western New York. He previously held leadership positions in the Atlantic Region, including vice president of center store (grocery, dairy and frozen), retail formats and vice president of professional services.
Lipsky is a veteran of UNFI, formerly SUPERVALU, with more than 32 years of experience. He began his career in retail with GIANT, then moved on to Laneco Supermarkets in 1989. Beginning as a retail store manager, he held roles in corporate retail from district manager, perishable director and director of merchandising. In 2006, he moved into wholesale with SUPERVALU as director of sales and merchandising out of the New Stanton division of the former East Region, then was promoted to the Mechanicsville, Virginia, regional office in the stated leadership positions.
Tullis is Senior Vice President for Utz Quality Foods, where he oversees emerging channels as well as international and private brand sales for the 100-year-old company’s diverse brand portfolio. Today, the snack food company has more than $1 billion in sales. He began his career with Utz in June of 2009 as Vice President of National Brands. The following year, he was promoted to Vice President of Corporate Brands, in which he oversaw all marketing and branding activities, purchased snacks and integrating brands that were acquired during that time. He also oversaw retail, ecommerce and customer care functions.
Prior to joining Utz, he held executive roles with Zizzle Toys and Houston Harvest gift products. He also spent more than 15 years with Walmart and Sam’s Club, where he worked as a buyer in the snack category and rose to the position of director of regional merchandising.
PFMA is grateful for the service of our new and current board members.