OKLAHOMA CITY -- Fleming Cos. here is looking to take a bite out of the Big Apple's specialty-foods supply business.
The wholesaler has teamed with JEM Marketing, a Melville, N.Y.-based merchandising services firm, to supply kosher, Italian and other specialty foods to independent and chain retailers in the New York market.
Stores will be supplied from Fleming's King of Prussia, Pa., warehouse, where a 50,000-square-foot addition was recently completed that is devoted to specialty foods.
Craig Carlstrom, director of specialty foods at Fleming, told SN the addition will have room for at least 2,000 additional specialty products.
There will be a "dramatic increase" in the number of kosher foods that are carried, along with domestic and imported Italian; confections such as chocolate candies; cookies, crackers, biscuits and "gourmet-type" items, including marinades, dressings and sauces.
"We're currently adding lines, items and new suppliers to our list. We're doing that through our staff in Oklahoma City and King of Prussia and through JEM Marketing," Carlstrom said.
"When we get finished [with adding items] we will have an extensive line across virtually the entire kosher category," he said. Kosher items being added include soup mixes, borscht, vegetables, noodles, sauces, gravies, juices and candies.
Although Fleming currently supplies stores in upstate New York, it is focusing much of its effort on retailers in the five boroughs of New York City and in New Jersey.
"This is a new market for us," Carlstrom said.
With the help of JEM Marketing, Carlstrom said, Fleming is currently in talks with several chain and independent accounts, although he declined to name them.
Items will be distributed on a store-by-store basis and will be tailored to the individual store's clientele.
"We are relying on JEM Marketing to advertise this to retailers. They have conducted interviews with newspapers such as The New York Times and Long Island Newsday and articles will be coming out. And they have been out calling on the trade," he said.
In addition to specialty grocery, Fleming can provide retailers with other products from King of Prussia, which is primarily a general-merchandise distribution facility.
"Our King of Prussia facility also carries an extensive line of general-merchandise nonfood products and health and beauty care. We see some opportunity with some independent lines of slow movers or specialty GM and HBC categories. We definitely can ship that together and we are going to look at marketing that to the stores," he said.
Fleming entered into the agreement with JEM Marketing in late April. Carlstrom said the arrangement will allow Fleming to become a major force in specialty-foods distribution and merchandising.
"The items won't just be shipped out of the warehouse, but there will be a whole menu of services that the customer can use," he said.
In addition to its new market of New York, Carlstrom said, Fleming will also be recommending specialty products to King of Prussia's current customer base, which stretches from New England down the East Coast.