After 50 years, DeCicco & Sons still offers delicious produce with a side of innovation

What started as a small storefront business in the heart of the Bronx has since grown into a well-known market for perishable goods. This year, DeCicco & Sons celebrates its 50th anniversary.

In honor of the customer service and employee empowerment expert, Food Chain shares the company’s latest growth plans and its strategy for innovative customer experience.

“That has always been our message,” begins President John DeCicco Junior. “Wonderful service and high-quality produce; that’s what we do differently.”

John’s family, the DeCiccos, have been responsible for the exemplary reputation of the company since 1973, and throughout all these years, quality has been the top priority at DeCicco & Sons.

Sustainability strategy

From seafood and meat to a wide selection of beer and cheeses, the business platforms traditional and organic produce. “We also have a bakery in-store, and we deliver fresh ingredients daily,” says John.

DeCicco & Sons relies on a sturdy network of vendors to successfully offer a variety of freshly harvested and ethically sourced ingredients. According to John, the business has worked hard to secure a chain of local, national, and international suppliers and farmers.

“We have to be sure that our suppliers are well looked after,” he adds. “We have fantastic communication among our suppliers and farmers to make sure we’re always achieving our standards and specifications.”

With a supply chain this strong, it’s no surprise that the business was able to weather the Covid-19 storm. Despite the uncertainty many companies endured, John is pleased to share that his suppliers took great care of the company: “Honestly, the pandemic only strengthened our relationships, which was our saving grace.”

Since then, the business has strived for improvement in every avenue of its operation. One way it has honed its focus is through social responsibility. Back in 2014, the company turned to sustainability and became one of the first stores in New York to undertake natural refrigerants and filtration systems.

“Seven out of ten stores now use natural refrigerants that don’t harm the ozone layer,” says John. “Truth be told, the supermarket industry is probably one of the biggest contributors to global warming.

“So, having supermarkets across the country change to a natural refrigerant needs to be done, and fortunately, we’re seeing more and more businesses jump on board with that.

“We’ve added heat recovery to heat our stores and make hot water for our systems. We added solar panels to the roofs of our new stores and we’re trying to become as carbon-neutral as possible. We’re also trying to reduce single-use paper bags and switch our customers to reusable bags.

“Furthermore, we’re looking at using recyclable and compostable containers that are made from post-consumer material – that’s the next big initiative we’re working on currently,” John explains.


The business is also proud of its community support and donates one percent of its sales to local schools and other communities in which it operates. John shares that the company also participates in a few fundraising events throughout the year.

“We just completed an initiative for multiple sclerosis, where we raised $30,000, and we added another $10,000. Additionally, we have had another drive for breast cancer, cancer in general, and the American Heart Society, as well as a local children’s hospital where we also help with fundraising. Some of our customers get involved in these sorts of things as well, and contribute substantially to these causes, which is fantastic to witness.”

With these measures in place, DeCicco & Sons stands in good stead for a strong and prosperous future. In addition to growing its footprint, John discusses that the company is going to introduce a large bar area within the store, as well as a restaurant concept, so customers can enjoy a delicious meal while completing their shopping.

Inclusive culture

The company was one of the first stores in New York to incorporate this in its supermarket and has since been increasing the number of its locations to offer the concept.

“If you want to have dinner, whether you want to cook yourself, eat in the store, or hang out at the bar, we have every option available for you. So we’re exploring possibilities for the stores to make them more of an experience, rather than just another shopping trip.”

Bringing an operation of this scale together takes a dedicated team, and John is immensely proud of the company culture DeCicco & Sons works so hard to maintain. “We have 1300 employees that work well together,” he says. “Most of our senior leadership team started at the bottom and worked their way up.

“Regardless of whether it’s a public holiday or calm or busy – no matter the circumstances, everyone from corporate goes to the stores to support and help out, and I think our team members really appreciate that.

“We also have scholarship programs for our employees, and we like to promote growth from within as much as we possibly can. We work really hard to incorporate continual training, reminders, and meetings to make sure that management is being empathetic to our employees to create that sense of belonging and family that we really want to promote in the company.”

As John looks to the future, his closing message for the team is that he is excited for the journey ahead. “Our mission is to expand our stores, both internally and in the number of locations,” he concludes. “From my perspective, as the company gets bigger, so will our team and their responsibilities.

“It’s important for the company to grow, promote, and be able to give the opportunity for all our employees to improve their skillset. Without the business growing, that opportunity doesn’t present itself for them.

“So that’s one of the biggest reasons why we’re pushing to expand and continue to offer advanced experiences for our customers and new opportunities to all members of our team.”