PMC Celebrates National Pasta Month

Each October, we celebrate National Pasta Month. During this time, the National Pasta Association and its communications program, Share the Pasta, focus our attention on the heritage, joys, and healthy benefits of enjoying of pasta.

To share the joy of pasta, we want to provide historical context for pasta’s uncertain origins. Some argue the Roman poet Horace was the first to write about pasta, mentioning the word “laganum” which is a possible ancestor of today’s lasagna. There is the idea that Marco Polo introduced Asian noodles to Italy in 1296. However, proof of dried pasta was found in Italy in the year 800. During the 800s Muslim occupation, Sicilians learned how to improve their pasta manufacturing and drying techniques. By the 1100s, pasta made on the island was exported to mainland Italy and parts of Europe.

Ultimately, pasta as we know it was not made by any one person, region, or ethnicity. Modern pasta is the product of centuries of cross-cultural cooperation and innovation. The result is hundreds of pasta shapes to choose from when mealtime hits. From easily-manufactured to strictly-homemade, the pasta-bilities are endless.

For ~175 years, Philadelphia Macaroni Company (PMC) and A. Zerega’s Sons have manufactured consistent, quality pasta for consumer enjoyment. With over 300 shapes to choose from and additional custom capabilities, PMC is your go-to partner for all things pasta in the Industrial, Retail, and Foodservice markets.

Source: De Vita.

* * *

To keep the celebrations going, we also want to recognize our Executive Vice President, Nora Stabert, appointed Vice Chair of the National Pasta Association (NPA) earlier this year. Stabert represents PMC on the NPA Board of Directors, a role previously held by her father, Bill Stabert, and her grandfather, Luke Marano Sr.

Stabert joined PMC in 2018 as Vice President of Strategy. She has supported our organization through transformational changes, including PMC’s acquisition of A. Zerega’s Sons in 2020 and the ongoing implementation of our new, tier 1 Enterprise Resource Planning system. She also oversees the strategic direction of our corporate social responsibility program.

First founded in 1904 as the National Macaroni Manufacturers Association, NPA membership now includes manufacturers, marketers, millers and suppliers in the pasta industry. NPA serves as a cohesive advocate, promoter, and center of knowledge for the pasta industry, members of the government, and consumers.

PMC Attends IFT 2022

In-person trade shows are back! For the first time since 2019, PMC attended and exhibited the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) FIRST Annual Event and Expo. From July 10 – 13, PMC joined hundreds of exhibitors from sectors across food, beverage, and related industries. Though the event attendance was scaled down from pre-pandemic levels, our commercial team noted a great turnout. PMC was pleased to see and speak with key leaders in the food industry.

At IFT FIRST, PMC unveiled our refreshed marketing materials including a brand-new trade show booth and product brochures.

Kouassi Kouakou, our VP of Research & Development, attended various technical sessions and noted the highlights and recurring themes throughout the show:

Our booth-based sales team also noted fiber additives and upcycled ingredients as additional repeating themes.

Ultimately, PMC was glad to be back, and we can’t wait to see everyone at next year’s IFT event!

PMC Appoints New CFO

Philadelphia Macaroni Company (PMC) is delighted to announce the appointment of our new Chief Financial Officer, Joe McDermott. McDermott is succeeding Marc Abruzzese, who has worked with PMC for over 40 years.

McDermott is a results-driven leader with over 25 years of experience driving growth, efficiencies, and successful integrations. As a leader, he focuses on creating alignment through goals, processes, and communication.

“We’re bringing in Joe during an exciting time for PMC,” says CEO & President Luke Marano Jr. “We are a committed leader in the pasta industry. We continue to invest significantly in our infrastructure and people to support our goals and fuel growth, including the implementation of our new Tier 1 ERP system scheduled to go-live this year. We are happy to welcome Joe to our executive team, and look forward to the perspective and leadership he will bring to PMC.” Recent PMC projects include Minot Milling’s A-Mill conversion, the installation of an industrial short goods line in Lee’s Summit, MO, and several co-pack expansion investments in Grand Forks, ND.  

Profile photo of Joseph McDermott, CPA, MBA

“I am extremely excited to be joining PMC at this pivotal point in the company’s history,” McDermott states. “PMC’s extraordinary history and success make me proud to be responsible for helping shape the future of the company and its people. With pasta being a staple market category, there is always opportunity to continue and expand on the tradition of quality and service excellence for the next generation of pasta consumers! I look forward to meeting and learning from everyone at PMC.”

McDermott is a CPA, with an MBA from Villanova University and a BBA in Accounting from Temple University. Most recently, he served as CFO of Zentis North America LLC, a privately held, US-based food manufacturer. Prior to that, he was CFO of Default Foods and helped navigate the company through a major ERP implementation. His other career experience includes CFO of PeopleShare and CFO of a Mars Petcare division.

PMC Celebrates One Year with Chief Commercial Officer

Happy one-year work anniversary to our Chief Commercial Officer, Michael Goodman! In 2021, Philadelphia Macaroni Company (PMC) welcomed aboard our new CCO to succeed two long-time commercial leaders in our organization. Goodman succeeded Bill Stabert, PMC’s previous CCO who retired in December 2020 after a 45-year tenure with the company, and Robert Vermylen, who retired from his long-standing position as Vice President of Zerega in April 2021.

Goodman joined the PMC team at the beginning of the pandemic’s most disruptive supply chain challenges, and dove headfirst into tackling our fluctuating industry dynamics and keeping our commercial team ahead of the curve. At the same time, he has been integrating the PMC and Zerega commercial teams to unlock the full potential of our combined sales force and customer operations teams, aiming to win new business opportunities while maintaining our current long-standing partnerships. Other focus areas have included new product commercialization, a fresh perspective on marketing initiatives, and overseeing our procurement strategy.

Prior to joining PMC, Goodman held progressive leadership positions at Campbell Soup Company, served as Vice President / General Manager of Private Brands at Chewy, and most recently was CCO of Mia’s Kitchen premium Italian sauces. Goodman has a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University, and a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University.

Foodservice Recovery & Insights Into 2022

In early 2021, we noted the pandemic-driven takeout boom that kept many foodservice operators afloat. As the country navigates the return to eating out in the midst of COVID variants, operators are responding to the dynamic needs of dine-in and takeout.

Operator Landscape Shifting

Over the past two years, the industry saw a wave of smaller / independent restaurant closures as a result of COVID, while larger chain operations fared better, as they had the scale, financial resources, and tools to pivot quickly (e.g. app-enabled takeout and pick-up, drive-through, access to labor).

Takeout Goes Digital

Takeout habits have settled at significantly higher rates and are expected to remain. Recent research indicates that consumers prefer ordering online or through an app, rather than over the phone. The takeout trend is a sticky one, with delivery retention expected to be ~75% post-pandemic, and ~90% among those who ‘primarily’ use a food-delivery app (Needham). Additionally, over half of consumers say ordering takeout from a restaurant makes them more likely to eat at, or from, that restaurant again. Digital capabilities are a key asset for operators moving forward.

Menus Feature Comfort Food

While dining out, consumers crave comfort, premium, and classic dishes. Operators can approach this trend by promoting popular items from their core menus (as seen with more streamlined, simplified menus), or offering limited time offers (LTOs) to pull in new customers. Comfort food demand is expected to remain high, and operators can maintain momentum with a spin on classic dishes (e.g. Mac & Cheese with unique shapes and artisan cheeses, Bolognese, Carbonara).

Additional foodservice trends that align well with what we see in the retail sector:

Sources: CGA Insights; MarketWatch; FoodBusinessNews.

Retail Trends Into 2022

As we prepare for the New Year, Philadelphia Macaroni Company has been keeping an eye on consumer trend predictions for 2022. Those trends tend to fall into three categories: sustainability, health and wellness, and individual foods and flavors.

Sustainability

Health and Wellness

Unique Flavors

Sources: Whole Foods; Natural Products Expo East; Mintel.

Production Line Expansion at Lee’s Summit

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you know that earlier this year Minot Milling completed two major capital projects. This summer, Philadelphia Macaroni Company concluded another key expansion project at one of our Midwest pasta manufacturing facilities.

We recently completed the installation of an all-new FAVA line in our Lee’s Summit, MO facility, increasing our annual production capacity. The line became operational in September 2021. PMC acquired the Lee’s Summit facility from A. Zerega’s Sons in 2020.

“As a company, we are so proud of the milestones we have accomplished over the past 18 months,” says Luke Marano Jr., CEO and President. “We have experienced drastic organizational growth since the pandemic began, from the acquisition and integration of A. Zerega’s Sons in April 2020 to the surges in consumer demand for pasta, and now completing a handful of capital projects in 2021. We have expanded the capabilities of our strategically-located Midwest facilities, further solidifying our position as an industry leader.”

Our Midwest facilities are centrally located, so we can more easily ship to all corners of the continental United States. These capital projects increase our capabilities and strengthen our presence in the industry, allowing us to better serve our customers around the country.

Just as importantly, these projects positively impact our local economies by spurring job creation and bringing new opportunities to the communities in which our facilities reside. We are invested in our plants and in our people. Employment opportunities are available – please call our facilities for more information.

Minot Milling Completes Expansion Projects

Like all manufacturers, Minot Milling has faced many challenges over the past year to maintain service levels during the pandemic. Our employees followed strict COVID-19 protocols to establish a safe work environment – in turn, allowing Minot Milling to sustain a stable labor force, meet production goals, and supply our customers with semolina and other flour without interruptions.

While operating under pandemic restrictions, the Mill management team and employees not only kept the Mill running efficiently, but also completed two major capital projects.

The first project was renovation of one of our mills, which now has the flexibility to swing between durum and spring wheat flour. This gives Minot Milling additional durum capacity to satisfy higher demand due to PMC’s acquisition of Zerega. Besides creating swing flexibility, the new mill was retrofitted with a debranner, which promotes higher quality flour by removing impurities that may be present on the outer bran coat. 

The second project was the installation of an additional grain receiving system, with a new automated truck scale. These improvements double the grain elevator’s unloading capacity and promote better grower relations by minimizing unloading time. 

As we move into a new crop year, the industry is already feeling the effects of the severe drought conditions in the Northern Plains – where a majority of the durum wheat is grown. As predicted, total 2021 durum production in both the US and Canada is estimated to be less than 160 million bushels vs 308 million bushels last year. No question, record low durum production along with low carryover inventories will make supply tight and values high. And with our recent facility improvements, we have hit the ground running to face this industry challenge.

Zerega Wins an IMA Award

Each year, the Independent Marketing Alliance (IMA) hosts an award show following its annual trade show. As with many events, IMA went virtual – and similar to Shamrock, a virtual setting didn’t stop IMA’s awards ceremony.

In this ceremony, IMA commemorates suppliers who exceed expectations in a given category. The awards spotlight suppliers from all over the US, and pull from the ~70 suppliers that exhibit at the trade show each year. Last month, Zerega was named the winner in the Grocery, Commodities, and Imports category! Other finalists included Rema and Sugar Food.

In explaining Zerega’s win, IMA noted that “Zerega has provided consistent support throughout 2020. They have kept adequate on-hand inventory of Villa Frizzoni brand dry pasta products and maintained 98 – 100% fill rates throughout most of 2020. Zerega continues to be a proactive and supportive supplier and have worked hard to maintain 100% GS1 compliance.”

Zerega has been a supplier to IMA for almost 20 years, and this is the first time our foodservice team won a prestigious IMA award. We are very proud of our long-standing relationship, and honored to receive this commemoration.

PMC Executive Chairman to Resume Role as CEO/President

We are pleased to announce that our Executive Chairman, Luke Marano Jr, will be resuming his former role as CEO and President of Philadelphia Macaroni Company. Luke is returning to the role following the departure of Ed Irion.

Ed had been CEO and President since April 2020. The PMC family thanks Ed for his contributions over the past 14+ months, and appreciates his work throughout such a dynamic year for our company and industry.

“For generations, PMC and Zerega have supplied high-quality and innovative pasta products to the industrial, retail and co-pack, and foodservice channels,” says Luke. “Our commitment is driven by centuries of passion for pasta making, thoughtful studies, and success, and we are ready to maintain our position as devoted industry leaders. We see so much opportunity to continue growing and investing in the pasta industry, and our hard-working teams look forward to the new and exciting challenges our future holds.”

Adopting a Sustainable CSR Approach

In recent years, concepts such as sustainable development, environmental, social, governance (“ESG”), and corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) have shifted how business is conducted and performance evaluated.

CSR is often defined as the economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic expectations that society has of organizations at a given point in time. ESG, on the other hand, refers to the non-financial concerns that companies consider when making key business decisions. Together, these two applications provide the underlying structure for sustainability reporting frameworks.

Driven by increasing needs from key stakeholders and the desire to develop a best-in-class sustainability strategy, PMC has taken several steps to develop an integrated CSR program, taking into account our size, footprint, and role as a vertically-integrated supplier. Over the past ~8 months, we worked with Master’s students from Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment to define a 3 year action plan and ultimately the PMC CSR strategy.

This project utilized a materiality assessment to define our CSR pillars. “Materiality” or “material issues” denotes why and how certain issues are important to an organization. So, our near-term goals will focus on environmental footprint tracking and analysis, sustainable raw materials (with emphasis on regenerative agriculture and sustainable codes of conduct), diversity and inclusion, and transparency.

This is the third time PMC has partnered with the Nicholas School, and we are looking forward to tackling our newly-defined CSR goals and building on them in the future.

Research Finds Pasta Eaters Have Better Overall Diet Quality

March is National Nutrition Month, so we are sharing good news for pasta eaters! Recent research published in Frontiers in Nutrition analyzed the diets of adults and children who eat pasta. The results? Pasta consumption in both children and adults is associated with a better diet quality and better nutrient intakes than that of those who do not eat pasta.

The research was conducted by Nutritional Strategies, Inc. on behalf of the National Pasta Association. The study examined associations between pasta consumption, shortfall nutrient intakes as defined by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, and diet quality in comparison to non-pasta consumption in the U.S. population – children (ages 2-18) and adults (> 19 years). Pasta consumption was defined as all dry domestic and imported pasta/noodle varieties made with only wheat and no egg.

Researchers identified key positive nutritional patterns associated with those who eat pasta as part of their diet compared to those who don’t. They are:

“Pasta can be an effective building block for good nutrition throughout the lifecycle, as it serves as a perfect delivery system for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and legumes,” explains registered dietitian Diane Welland, Director of Nutrition Communications for the National Pasta Association. “Think of pasta as a canvas from which you can add almost any nutrient-dense, fiber-rich food you and your family like, to create memorable and delicious meals. This analysis underscores the nutritional importance of grains, such as pasta, as consistent with a healthy diet. It shows that pasta eaters have better quality diets than those who don’t eat pasta.”

Fresh Look for Zerega

Nearly one year ago, in April 2020, A. Zerega’s Sons was acquired by Philadelphia Macaroni Company. We are two family organizations with a long history in the pasta industry (nearly 300 years collectively!). As one organization, we are doubly-devoted to advancing the art and science of pasta manufacturing. 

A little over a month ago, we launched the refreshed Zerega website. The world has changed so much in the past year, and our company along with it – so what better time to refresh our brand than the present?

In the months leading up to launch, we worked to redesign the Zerega website to serve as a come-one, come-all resource for all your Foodservice pasta needs. As you navigate the website, learn more about our sophisticated Foodservice pasta capabilities and manufacturing process; dip into our history as a dedicated and passionate leader in the pasta manufacturing industry for over 170 years; or check out the pasta shapes we offer for Foodservice operators, in our Pasta Navigator. All in one streamlined, elegant, user-friendly experience.

Welcome to the future of Foodservice. Let’s start innovating.

Sincerely,

Robert Vermylen & the Zerega Team

Pandemic Drives Takeout Boom

The pandemic radically altered the restaurant industry, and many operators have pivoted strategies in order to stay afloat – including a sharp focus on carryout foods. But not all food is ideal for carryout, and not all restaurants are used to providing this service. Many restaurants have reimagined how they serve carryout, including pasta dishes.

Many restaurants streamlined their menus and offered their top-selling items with the most straightforward execution; bonus points if those offerings could travel well. Thicker, shorter pasta tend to travel best, and al-dente pasta benefits from being undercooked – the pasta finishes cooking in the to-go container during the delivery process. In the same vein, mixing the pasta and sauce together before delivery trips prevents the pasta from drying out and sticking together.

Other restaurants have opted for family-size “meal kits” that consumers can heat and eat on their own time. These offerings are often gourmet, and come in larger portion sizes (such as a whole lasagna instead of by the serving). This allows consumers to enjoy family-style comfort dishes without worrying about them getting cold or soggy during the delivery process.

The restaurant industry has always thrived on adaptability and creativity, a world where “what’s next” is often the hottest ticket. Though we hope the pandemic will be behind us before 2021 ends, it will leave a lasting mark on how consumers experience restaurants. Perhaps some of these innovations are even here to stay.

Pasta Trends Into 2021

Pasta is one of the most popular restaurant dishes in the world. It’s an incredibly versatile food that spans a wide range of cuisines, lifestyles, and budgets. The reasons for this popularity are constantly shifting—so which trends are the drivers going into 2021?

First and foremost, the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally shifted the way we live, work, and dine. As dining in all but halted, customers turned to take out, delivery, or cooking at home. The pasta retail sector immediately saw growth for both dry and fresh pasta, and the world of restaurant carryout saw a shift to comfort food: pizza, desserts, and pasta.

Though it may seem as though nutrition was put on the backburner for many consumers, the healthy, doctor-favored Mediterranean Diet is also seeing a surge in popularity. Many people are choosing this option over fad diets like keto due to the health benefits in a year when staying well has become increasingly important. This diet includes a lot of vegetables, seafood, lean meat, and whole wheat, with whole grain pasta being an ingredient in many of the recipes.

The third key driver in pasta popularity is the rise of plant-based diets. As consumers focus on healthier lifestyles, many turned to plants as their main source of nutrients. A plant-based diet also has a tremendous impact on the environment, as meat processing is one of the major contributors to global warming. 2020 brought a renewed focus on activism, and choosing veganism or vegetarianism was one of the ways consumers could make a difference from the safety of home.

Pasta has been experiencing a renaissance for several years now, and 2020 only accelerated its growth. Its versatility, comfort, and health benefits should help take this popularity into 2021, but it’s important that we continue to innovate and create new ways for your consumers to… well… consume. Because if this year has taught us anything, it’s that we never know what’s just around the corner.

Reference: Zuanelli, Carl. “Changing Food Trends Fuel Pasta Popularity.” The Food Institute, 29 July 2020, foodinstitute.com/focus/pasta-trends/.

Luke Sr. Would be Proud: A Reflection on 2020

Luke Sr. would be proud of how well PMC reacted to the events of 2020. How his employees recognized the immense responsibility of being essential during a pandemic, and manned the factories and offices to continue servicing our customers and keeping shelves stocked across the country.

Luke Sr. would be proud of how we embraced the unique challenges of the Zerega acquisition. The integration of two family organizations, coming together in 2020 to supply all sectors of the pasta marketplace: Dry, Frozen, Retail, Industrial, and Foodservice.

Luke Sr. would have been proud of the way the Vermylens ran their business – the way they treated their employees and operated their factories. He would have wanted us to understand, so we worked tirelessly to keep operations smooth while preparing our companies to merge into one large family.

Luke Sr. would be proud of how we actively seek positive changes, understanding inclusion and the need for diversity. He would be proud of our ability to learn and evolve in a year like no other.

Luke Sr. loved leadership, and he would be proud to see how we have embraced it. Our leaders lead loudly, building strong and successful teams.

Luke Sr. would be so proud of the mill, the pasta manufacturing plants, and their management teams. Our continued pushes for improvement in process and quality, striving to be the best we can be even in the midst of a pandemic.

Luke Sr. would be proud to be part of these historic accomplishments, to see us grow as 1 PMZ, realizing our full potential with both caution and enthusiasm.

Luke Sr. would be proud – proud of what Philadelphia Macaroni Company has become, and proud to watch how the Company will grow in the years to come, 2021 and beyond.

Luke Marano Sr. at PMC’s 100-Year Anniversary in 2014.

Zerega Wins a Shamrock Award

Each year, Zerega exhibits at the Shamrock Foods Expo, a food show for operator customers. If you read “PMZ Hits Two (Virtual) Trade Shows”, you’ll know that 2020 has become the year of online exhibitions. The Shamrock event was one of many that adapted to a virtual setting this year – but that didn’t stop its annual awards presentation, which spotlights booths from the prior year’s Expo that spans across 4 locations. Zerega’s booth was named 2019 Dry Grocery Expo Booth of the Year!

To pull off an award-winning booth, Zerega partnered with Shamrock Foods and our local broker network to prepare two different dishes for visitors to try. The dishes were prepared in typical foodservice fashion: the pasta was cooked and chilled, and then added to heated sauce and served. The first sample was a classic and beloved penne and marinara combination. The second was a spin on Asian-style noodles, using 3/16th fettucine (a thick noodle, like a wider linguine) served with a red curry sauce made with coconut milk. Vegetarian and vegan dishes have been trending over the years, and the goal of these two booth dishes was to inspire menu items for Zerega’s customers.

Exhibiting at the Shamrock Foods Expo is a great way for organizations to display their products and highlight their quality, features, and benefits, while simultaneously fostering relationships with new and old customers. Plus, cooking product in the booth turns it into an action station, which generates great energy on the trade floor – and leads to an award that signifies hard work pays off!

The Technical Aspects of the Cereal World

While we most commonly associate the word “cereal” with the breakfast food often enjoyed with milk, the term has a much broader definition that includes the grains used to manufacture pasta – and the aspects of that cereal world are more technical than you would initially think.

To manufacture a high-quality pasta, it is important to start with a clear understanding of the fundamentals – this includes the product’s intended application, the proper manufacturing pattern and technology, and the sourcing and determination of the ideal raw material it will be made from.

Industrial pasta manufacturing is a complex and versatile world requiring intricate knowledge of the physico-chemical properties and functionality of the required ingredients, the science and technology associated with the processing equipment and their impact on particular ingredients and/or blend of ingredients, and finally, the formulae and/or shape of interest.  Constant changes and adaptation are the key to an effective and efficient industrial pasta manufacturing process. In the end, success is achieved by having the proper art, science, technology, and materials in the right sequence to generate a high-quality pasta for the desired application – all resulting in an enjoyable eating experience.

From the sourcing of raw material to the research and development and processing, a given cereal product, such as pasta, entering the market must meet particular nutritional, performance, quality, safety, and regulatory guidelines to provide the consumer with a comfortable and excellent eating experience. Throughout the process, it is important to have thorough knowledge and understanding of the technical aspects of every step.

A Happier Harvest Season

The durum and spring wheat harvest has wrapped up in the Northern Plains with a sigh of relief. Producers seem to be very pleased with both their yields and quality as compared to last year’s crop, which was negatively impacted by mid-harvest rains. Minot Milling has already seen new crop durum deliveries, from growers enrolled in our sustainability program, which exhibit quality attributes better than the mill has seen in several years. We are very proud of these growers that have partnered with us. They have shown that they can achieve favorable results that benefit them today, as well as future generations, through the practice of sustainable agriculture.

The North Dakota Wheat Commission has recently reported that the world durum situation in 2020 is characterized by smaller crops in the EU and North Africa, and production rebounds in the U.S. and Canada. Total world production is up marginally from 2019 at 1.25 billion bushels, but still about 8% below the 5-year average. The consecutive years of declining production in the EU and North Africa, combined with robust durum demand last year (for both feed and food use), has shrunk 2020 beginning inventories in many key countries as well. June 2021 stocks may hit a six-year low. This is leading to higher world prices for durum compared to this time last year, and prices in Europe are showing a firmer trend relative to the U.S. and Canada.

All in all, Minot Milling is positioned very well for 2021. We anticipate our farm inventories will be more than adequate to support the mill’s grain requirements for the upcoming year.

PMZ Hits Two (Virtual) Trade Shows

Many of this year’s trade shows have been rescheduled and adapted to operate in a novel, virtual setting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, Philadelphia Macaroni Company (PMZ) was a proud sponsor of the RFA Fall Symposium, and exhibited at the NY IFT’s Suppliers’ Day Expo.

The RFA Symposium ran from September 21-23 and offered a series of educational webinars throughout the afternoons – as a sponsor, PMZ’s logo was included in all promotional materials and online communications.

The NY IFT Expo took place during the same week and operated from September 21-25. PMZ joined dozens of exhibitors from sectors all over the food, beverage, and related industries. Check out the virtual PMZ booth here. As an exhibitor, the PMZ booth will remain active until the end of January 2021.

Each virtual show provides a learning experience for the next, from organization to technological capabilities and communication strategies. We hope to feel the buzzing excitement of in-person trade shows again soon, but for now we are only a phone call away!

“Out-of-This-World” Spirals

In April 2020, A. Zerega’s Sons (Zerega) officially became a subsidiary of the Philadelphia Macaroni Company (PMC). Zerega is a well-respected and prominent manufacturer of dry pasta for the Foodservice, Industrial, and Retail channels – and it has a relationship with NASA as an occasional pasta supplier.

Often, Lockheed Martin and NASA representatives build connections with suppliers at trade shows. Zerega has been donating Tri-Vane Spirals with 3% Egg White to NASA for a few years now, shipping the organization a sample case once or twice a year for preparation and consumption aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The pasta, like most space food, goes through a thermostabilization process before it is consumed by the astronauts. Thermostabilization, in this case, is a preservation process that uses heat to destroy any harmful microorganisms or enzymes in the food before it is consumed. Currently, the pasta on deck includes Zerega’s 1.5-inch spirals incorporated into both a pesto meal as well as a tuna noodle casserole; other pasta dishes include minestrone soup made with small shells, and chicken noodle soup with 2% egg white fettucine. NASA offers nearly 70 different thermostabilized foods as well as a variety of freeze-dried goods, totaling over 250 comforting menu options for astronauts to choose from as they prepare for launch. Houston, we’ve got a pasta!

Zerega’s Tri-Vane Spirals with 3% Egg White

Philadelphia Macaroni Co. to Acquire A. Zerega’s Sons

Philadelphia Macaroni Company (“Philadelphia Macaroni”), a leading producer of dry and frozen pasta for the industrial ingredient, private label retail, and co-pack channels has acquired A. Zerega’s Sons (“Zerega”), a leading manufacturer of dry pasta for the foodservice, industrial ingredient and retail channels.

The acquisition positions Zerega as a wholly owned subsidiary of Philadelphia Macaroni. The transaction includes Zerega’s manufacturing and distribution facilities located in Fair Lawn, NJ and Lee’s Summit, MO. No changes are planned for Zerega’s existing operations.

The Zerega purchase will essentially double Philadelphia Macaroni’s production and packaging capacity to more than 700 million pounds annually; increasing manufacturing capabilities, adding strategically located facilities and channel expansion. Philadelphia Macaroni’s new President and CEO, Ed Irion, stated the acquisition creates the largest privately-owned pasta manufacturer in the United States. Irion added, “Zerega’s wide variety of pasta offerings further enhances Philadelphia Macaroni’s product portfolio and provides an immediate, meaningful presence in the foodservice channel. We believe the combination of these two well-respected pasta companies will provide expanded opportunities for both our customers and employee team members.”

Philadelphia Macaroni and Zerega are both family-owned businesses with generations of experience manufacturing pasta for multiple distribution channels. Luke Marano, Jr., Philadelphia Macaroni Executive Chairman, commented, “The combination of two great family businesses allows us to advance our diversification strategy and compete against larger players in the critical foodservice category with the required competitive scale.” He continued, “Our great-grandfathers who founded our companies were innovators and entrepreneurs,” referring to Antoine Zerega who is credited with building the USA’s first pasta plant in Brooklyn, New York in 1848 and Antonio Marano, who formed Philadelphia Macaroni in 1914 in the Italian market neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Marano added, “It will be the merging of similar cultures, core values and historical industry leadership but most important of all, a similar love of pasta!”

Houlihan Lokey acted as the exclusive investment banking advisor to Zerega. Connell Foley acted as Zerega’s legal counsel. Wells Fargo Securities acted as exclusive financial advisor and Fox Rothschild as legal counsel to Philadelphia Macaroni.

Company Description:

Philadelphia Macaroni Company manufactures dry, frozen and specialty pasta for industrial, private label, retail, and co-pack customers. Through its four pasta factories located in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Washington, the company produces and distributes pasta to an international customer base. Incorporated in 1914, Philadelphia Macaroni is a 5th generation family-owned business headquartered in Philadelphia, PA and employs over 400 workers across the country. The company also mills durum and hard red spring wheat for internal use as well as for sale on the open market through its division, Minot Milling Company located in North Dakota.

PMC’s Beloved Chief Passes At Age 94

Luke A. Marano, Sr.
April 28, 1925-April 21, 2020
Age 94

Luke A. Marano, Sr. of Philadelphia, PA, died peacefully at Foulkeways, Gwynedd, PA, on April 21, 2020. He is survived by his beloved fiancée, Claire Dickson, children: Lucy Sandifer (Andrew CeCicco), Lisa, Stephanie Stabert (William), Luke (Cynthia), Mark, and Mia. He was predeceased by his wife, Yolanda Lombardi Marano, and his daughter, Suzanne Urban (William). He was a devoted father, husband, and loving companion. He also is survived by 15 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren, his brother, Joseph Marano, and predeceased by his sister Mary Reiss and brother Vincent Marano.

Luke was the first son of Vincent and Antoinette Marano, born and raised in Chestnut Hill, PA. Growing up, he worked at Caruso’s Market, a multigenerational family business, where he developed his intense love of work, legendary stamina, and entrepreneurial spirit.

The opportunity to test himself as a businessman came in 1960, when he purchased his family’s troubled Philadelphia Macaroni Company (PMC). Wise investments in raw materials and a timely government contract gave life to the business that he loved. Luke’s ability to innovate contributed to new opportunities with global food companies, resulting in the growth of his business. The ability to adapt to change and be creative became the distinguishing characteristics of his company. At 73, Luke began Minot Milling, the “Jewel” in Luke’s crown. He continued to work until his 93rd birthday.

In 2014, PMC further distinguished Luke’s leadership by celebrating 100 years as a family-owned business.

The National Pasta Association (NPA), an industry group that Luke worked with to advance the promotion and safeguarding of Pasta, was a focal point in his life. He understood the importance of being a steward and was dedicated to developing a healthy industry resulting in his election to Chairman of the NPA. The Association provided Luke the opportunity to travel the world and realize the promotion of Pasta as worldwide. This led to the creation of the International Pasta Organization and his proudest achievement of being awarded National Pasta Association “Pasta Man of the Year” in 1992.

Luke was “Lucky in Love”. He was married to Yolanda whom he cherished for 54 years and together had seven children. As a father, he was incredibly supportive and wanted the best for his children. He stressed the importance of integrity and the futility in taking shortcuts. He was direct with his guidance and generous with forgiveness. After Yolanda’s death, Luke created a life with Claire in a loving relationship lasting over 17 years.

Although Luke suffered from dementia for the last two years, he was always able to celebrate his family’s success and good fortune with pride, happiness and gratitude.

Due to the unprecedented times, a Memorial Service will be scheduled once social distancing permits.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Our Mother of Consolation, 9 E. Chestnut Hill Ave, Philadelphia, PA, 19118. (In memory of Luke A. Marano, Sr.)

PMC Welcomes New CEO/President

Philadelphia Macaroni Company, Inc., a leading producer of dry and frozen pasta for the industrial, private label, retail and foodservice channels has announced that Ed Irion has joined the company as President and CEO of its pasta and milling divisions beginning April 1, 2020. Luke Marano, Jr. becomes Executive Chairman of his family’s 106-year-old business, focusing on strategic opportunities.

Mr. Irion previously held progressive positions over a 19 year career with Dakota Growers Pasta Company that included CFO, Director Business Development and Sales, and most recently President and General Manager. Dakota Growers is a leading pasta supplier with operations in both MN and ND.

“I am excited for the opportunity to join the Philadelphia Macaroni team and build on the legacy that Luke and the Marano family have created over five generations,” Irion said.

Mr. Irion has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and is a CPA. He started his career with the accounting firm Eide Bailly LLP based in Fargo, ND. He is also a Past Vice-Chair of the National Pasta Association Board of Directors.

New Look for Minot Milling

On behalf of the Minot Milling team I’m proud to introduce you to our new Minot Milling website. The new website amasses all the new innovative technology we’ve added to expand our product line and improve overall quality.

The first and foremost is the addition of pearling equipment to our durum mill which strips impurities from the outer bran coat resulting in a more pure semolina free of contaminates that may be present on the exterior of grain when harvested. The second is our new farmer network program that provides for direct delivery form the farmers’ bins to our mill. This minimizes the amount of grain that has to pass through third party elevators, which preserves quality and enhances traceability from the consumer to the farm.

Another new program the mill has implemented over the past year is partnering with the growers to launch a sustainability program that promotes total regenerative agriculture which helps growers evaluate and modify their grower practices to preserve the integrity of their land for future generations.

As you navigate through our new website you will have the opportunity to learn everything about Minot Milling from our history to a product line that is tailored for today’s markets. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to hear more about our ability to be your provider of any of our many durum or hard red spring products.

Sincerely,
Tim Dodd & the Minot Milling Team

COVID-19: PMC is Open

To Our Valued Customers –

Philadelphia Macaroni Company (PMC) is OPEN for business! All plants are operational and shipping.

We know that the impact of COVID-19 is continuing to change rapidly and has stressed and continues to stress the food supply chain. As an essential link in the food supply chain, PMC is committed to keeping our factories staffed and producing pasta to fill your orders.

We ask for your patience as we have experienced a significant surge in orders. Non-essential test runs and samples may be delayed as we concentrate on producing pasta and filling orders. Should you have questions or concerns, please call or email your sales and / or customers service contacts at PMC.

In addition, we will notify you immediately if:
There are any risks of supply to raw materials or finished product
There are capacity constraints to your operation

Please keep us informed on changes in your forecast and other supply chain issues and ensure your shipping carriers have our factory logistics numbers to confirm docking appointments.

Grand Forks, ND
Scheduling Contacts: 701-772-0080 x418 or x425
Email: GFShipping@philamacaroni.com

Warminster, PA
Scheduling Contact: 215-441-5220 x568
Email: WRMShipping@philamacaroni.com

Spokane, WA
Scheduling Contact: 509-489-7219 x602
Email: SPKShipping@philamacaroni.com
Outside Warehouse: Inland Empire Distribution Systems, Inc.
(509) 922-0944

Harrisburg, PA
Scheduling Contact: (717) 547-9400 x316
Email: HBGShipping@philamacaroni.com

Minot Milling, ND
Scheduling Contact: 701-557-3700 x716
Email: mvaughn@philamacaroni.com

Our plant locations have the necessary processes and procedures in place to enable readiness and we need to work together to keep our retailers stocked and consumers safe.

Thank you,

The PMC team

COVID-19 Communication

To Our Valued Customers: 

This communication is to inform you that Philadelphia Macaroni Company has taken a number of measures to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 and safeguard the health of our people to minimize the impact of the virus on our operations, and potential supply chain disruptions. These measures are based on current information and recommendations from the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/). Although many of these measures were already in place as part of the Food Safety & Quality system, the seriousness of the situation warranted we re- emphasize them. 

Measures include the following: 

Philadelphia Macaroni Company has an overall corporate strategy for the continuity of business operations in the event of facility outages or disasters. With four facilities in the United States, we have the ability to transfer additional manufacturing volume in case the normal supply is temporarily disrupted. Customers would be notified as required and appropriate documentation submitted in the event their product could no longer be produced at an approved location. 

The majority of our raw materials are procured from North America including wheat and eggs, the primary ingredients for macaroni and noodles. The few suppliers using materials sourced from overseas (vegetables, vitamins, minerals) have assured us their contingencies are in place, and that they do not foresee any disruptions in the short term. 

Our company will continue to monitor relevant developments from this outbreak, and take additional measures as necessary. 

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact your account representative. 

Sincerely, 

Kalpesh Parmar Director Food Safety & Quality 

Cooking Up Something New

It’s with great pleasure that I can now introduce you to Philadelphia Macaroni Company’s brand new look and website. The team and I couldn’t be more excited, and hope you’ll enjoy both as much as we do.

But why a new website and brand look? And why now? The reasons are as numerous as the hours we put into our new brand.

At PMC, we felt strongly that our online presence should continue to grow with our company. And our company continues to grow quickly. We also wanted to own a look and feel that more accurately reflects our storied history and forward-thinking outlook. On top of that, we saw opportunities to leverage technology and build powerful new tools to further inspire our partners’ processes (check out the Pasta Navigator.)

But most importantly, the new website and brand demonstrate our commitments. To our current and future partners, with whom we’ll always work hand in hand. To being agile problem solvers, ready to tackle your greatest challenges. To ourselves, as a fifth-generation family owned business eager to honor past generations and those still to come. And to pasta innovation, without which we couldn’t be where we are today or will be tomorrow.

Never has our team been as excited for what the future of pasta holds. So, on behalf of all at PMC, welcome. Please join us as we continue to advance the art and science of pasta making.

To the future of pasta,
Luke Marano Jr. & The PMC Team

Legume-based IQF Pasta

CPG marketer keeps pulse with key market trends

As healthful, pulse-based pastas grew in popularity, marketers sought adaptations to meet consumers’ demand for convenience. These two key trends—healthfulness and convenience—were exactly what a major CPG marketing team needed to achieve with their microwaveable lentil pasta. But there was a problem.

Their lentil-pasta formulation couldn’t withstand the strenuous blanching process, preventing it from providing an al dente texture. The CPG team toiled for two years before bringing their IQF pasta challenge to us.

Our R&D team quickly redeveloped the lentil blend and adapted a precook process to produce the desired texture. The operational team then installed modified equipment to allow for the mass-scale commercialization and launch of the new lentil pasta. Then, only three months in, a new request came: attain the trending Gluten Free status and meet its rigorous testing. No problem. In fact, we went from initial request to market in an astonishing six months, delivering a successful and innovative new offering exceeding all expectations.

What’s more, thanks to our collaboration, the CPG marketing group received the IFT Award for Best New Product.

Sustainable & Regenerative Pasta

Our vertical supply chain supplies sustainability

Perhaps the best-known brand in organic foods wanted to offer a truly farm-to-fork story. That meant being able to source identity-preserved wheat from specific farmers and track the grain every step of the way, from the fields to the milling facility, through the manufacturing and packaging process and all the way to consumers. This was no small task. And it was further complicated by the need to maintain established quality standards at a scale while still preserving traceability. Stumped, the renowned label turned to us and our vertical supply chain.

Our wholly owned subsidiary, Minot Milling, just happens to be one of the nation’s largest organic millers. We leveraged our organization’s talent to optimize the yield of the wheat—difficult given the scale of the mill. The fully traced wheat was then packaged and transferred to our plant, where it was both processed into the selected shape and specially packaged for the customer. The result? A marketing moment that defines the brand’s unyielding commitment to its organic authenticity.

Alphabet Soup

The pasta development pipeline was, in fact, a bridge

In the 1920s, Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell Soup Company ran into texture and bite-quality issues when developing pasta for their famed Alphabet Soup. But solutions were to be found across the bridge, at Philadelphia Macaroni Company.

To withstand the demands of canning and long-term storage required thick letters made from semolina—a difficult request for the time. An innovative reconfiguration of our processing equipment increased the drying dwell time to 16 hours. This not only created a noodle that could withstand canning but also one with exceptional mouthfeel.

From Alphabet Soup formed a successful multi-generation relationship. Over the decades, our relationship continued to tackle challenges ranging from quicker manufacturing needs to changing soup-delivery methods and packaging through the development of engineered pasta. But through each challenge, as was always the case, the desired and consistent customer experience was always to be found just over the bridge.