Industry Leader to be Inducted into the 2016 Refrigerated Food Hall of Fame

Date: Friday, June 24, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) established the NFRA Refrigerated Food Hall of Fame in 2010 to honor individuals for the contributions they have made and the leadership they have provided to the Refrigerated Food Industry. The late Leonard Gentine, founder of Sargento Foods will be the recipient of this year’s prestigious award.

Leonard Gentine was an entrepreneur with true spirit and motivation. Recognizing the growing popularity of Wisconsin cheeses, Gentine opened the Plymouth Cheese Counter in 1949 as a deli and mail order gift cheese business. At this time, retail stores only sold cheese in bulk packages, while Gentine’s store offered smaller-sized packages to consumers. In 1953, Gentine partnered with Plymouth cheesemaker Joseph Sartori and the two launched Sargento Cheese Company. The name came from a clever combination of their surnames and the “o” was added to give the name an Italian sound, since the company focused on selling Italian-style cheese products.

Marketing and merchandising innovations established by Sargento under Gentine’s leadership include the peg-bar display system that shows packaged cheese at eye-level and press-to-close packaging on re-sealable packages. Today Sargento Foods, Inc. is the largest selling retail brand of natural sliced cheese and the second largest in natural shredded cheese in the United States. Sargento Foods, Inc. is still family-owned and operated and employs nearly 1,800 in several Wisconsin locations including the headquarters in Plymouth. Although Gentine passed away in 1996, his legacy and importance to the refrigerated food industry live on. Gentine’s sons continue to work for Sargento; Louis P. Gentine is Chairman of the Board of Sargento Foods Inc. and Lawrence J. Gentine and Lee M. Gentine serve on the Board of Directors. Grandson Louie Gentine is CEO.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Convention during the Membership Luncheon on Monday, October 24, 2016, at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC.


NFRA is a non-profit trade association representing all segments of the frozen and refrigerated foods industry. Headquartered in Harrisburg, PA, NFRA is the sponsor of March Frozen Food Month, June Dairy Month, the June/July Ice Cream & Novelties promotion and the October Cool Food for Kids educational outreach program. NFRA holds the annual National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Convention in October.