Maggios Sell Their Cheese Business The S. Phila. Producer Of Ricotta And Mozzarella Is Quitting After 82 Years.

Posted: July 14, 1998

After 82 years, the Maggio family is quitting the cheese business.

M. Maggio Co. Inc., a South Philadelphia institution whose ricotta and mozzarella are found in virtually every local supermarket, will be sold to Crowley Foods Inc., a Binghamton, N.Y., dairy distributor.

Crowley said yesterday it will buy Maggio for an undisclosed price and shut the Maggio plant on South Seventh Street.

Crowley will distribute Maggio brand cheeses from its Ready Food Products manufacturing and distribution operation in Northeast Philadelphia, said Crowley spokesman Robert Cline.

Cline would not say how many of the 23 employees will be transferred to Northeast Philadelphia.

``We were interested in [Maggio] for two reasons: to expand the line of dairy products with one more strong brand, and to increase our presence in Philadelphia,'' Cline said. ``The Maggio brand is the brand of cheese in Philadelphia.''

Crowley already owns two local brands, Penn Maid and Ready Foods.

In August 1996, Crowley, a division of the Dutch food and beverage company Koninklijke BolsWessanen NV, bought the dairy-foods division of Penn Maid Food Inc. in Northeast Philadelphia. It was a 65-year-old family-owned business.

In December 1996, Crowley bought the Ready Foods Inc. plant from Dean Foods Co. The two companies were consolidated at the Ready Food plant on Dutton Road, which is where the Maggio products also will be made and distributed.

Crowley markets milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt and frozen desserts under the Green's, Hagan, Kemps, Penn Maid, PenSupreme, Axelrod, and Heluva Good Cheese brand names.

``We are pleased to have a company with as fine a reputation as Crowley Foods Inc. continue the traditions started by our family in the early 1900s'' president Mario M. Maggio said in a statement. ``The quality represented by the Maggio brand will be an excellent fit with the other premium brands in the Crowley family.''

The statement did not say why the family had decided to sell, and Maggio did not return a phone call last night.

Mario Maggio is one of three sons of Michael Maggio, who founded the company in 1916. Mario's brother, Peter J., ran the company for many years before his death in 1992.

At one point during the M. Maggio Co. history, the business was fully integrated. It had a milk hauling business, milk bottling, milk distribution, cheese manufacturing and convenience stores.

In 1981, the company closed its bottling operation, Michaels Dairies Inc., and its milk delivery business, Milk Maid Dairy Products Inc. The closings cut 50 jobs. The company attributed the closings to fewer neighborhood groceries and the economy.

The M. Maggio cheese operation was the only business that survived.

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