Mario's pasta sauce stirs up the Whole Foods store controversy

Feb 28, 2017
Originally published on February 28, 2017 2:21 pm

The controversy over a proposed Whole Foods grocery store in Brighton has now reached the shelves of a nearby Wegmans.

Danny Daniele, a member of the family that owns restaurants and car washes and wants to put in a Whole Foods in the plaza where Mario’s Restaurant was located on Monroe Avenue, is criticizing Wegmans for pulling Mario’s pasta sauce from the shelves of the Pittsford Wegmans. It has also been pulled from other Wegmans stores.

Daniele issued a statement saying “The sauce has always been a top seller in its category with outstanding sales…”  He says the chain pulled the sauce “abruptly” and tied the removal of the product to Wegmans opposing the Whole Foods project, which is just down the road from their Pittsford store. Daniele also says profits from the sauce were donated to food shelters.

Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale released a  statement, which said  “How a product performs is our single measure for what stays on our shelves and what goes.  When sales of a product decline, as was the case for this product, we stop carrying it in favor of a product that is in greater demand.  We discontinued two of the three varieties in August 2016, and discontinued the third variety in January. In both instances, our category merchant immediately notified the distributor, who would have then notified the supplier.”

There have been some concerns expressed by some people in Brighton and by Wegmans about an increase in traffic expected if a new retail plaza with a Whole Foods is developed in that area.

Daniele says with removal of the product from Wegmans, his family is not sure if they will continue to produce the sauce. It is still sold at some other outlets around town.

As far as Wegmans' decision on the sauce is concerned, Daniele says “We’re not upset with it, it’s just unfortunate for the customers that do love the sauce, we understand that Wegmans has to do whatever they have to do, they want to protect their own business and their own affairs, it’s a free market." 

Daniele does say that with the removal of the product from Wegmans, his family is not sure if they will continue to sell the pasta sauce.