Rochester, N.Y. — Wegmans today announced it has selected Rochester-based manufacturer Roc Paper Straws as its companywide supplier of paper straws for all its Market Cafés, restaurants, and corporate worksites.
Roc Paper Straws, located in the City of Rochester, was founded by Lux Lounge owner Karrie Laughton and her mother, Kathryn Laughton, in September 2022 and is one of only a handful of paper straw manufacturers in the United States, and the only one in the Northeast.
Wegmans first became aware of Roc Paper Straws when sustainability coordinator Marie McNally saw a story about the startup in the local paper ahead of the company’s grand opening.
“Marie was incredibly excited to bring this opportunity to our team,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans packaging, energy, and sustainability category merchant. “While we were already working with a supplier out of Arizona, we knew we needed to explore the possibility of moving our business to Roc Paper Straws. It just made perfect sense – the opportunity to support a new, local manufacturer, reduce our carbon footprint, and as we quickly learned, offer our customers a better product.”
The partnership started with a pilot of Roc Paper Straws’ regular drinking straws and cocktail straws at Wegmans’ two Rochester-area restaurants, Amore and Next Door, to see how they performed and to gather feedback from restaurant staff and customers. The high quality and durability of the straws made them an immediate hit. The straws will be rolled out to the Market Cafés starting this week.
Committed from day one to making the best paper straws on the planet, Karrie Laughton uses top-of-the-line materials in the manufacturing of her straws. Everything from the paper and ink, to the glue and oil used in the machines, is food grade, which ensures the straws are safe to use, and don’t pose any threats to the environment, including any animals or waterways they come into contact with. The straws contain zero plastic and are compostable, so while they’re designed to hold up for use in several drinks, they’ll also breakdown when disposed of.
“The partnership with Wegmans is life changing. My mom and I started on this path in 2018 and knew nothing about manufacturing. We’ve been learning as we go, and by the time we did our research, and built out our space, it was just days before the pandemic shut everything down that our equipment arrived,” explained Laughton. “So, we’ve had our fair share of struggles, and have been working so hard. This was our first big break where we could finally see the fruits of our labor. I can't think of a better way to start this venture than with Wegmans.”
"We're always looking for opportunities to support businesses near our stores, particularly ones that share our same values," said Wadsworth. "That's exactly what we found with Roc Paper Straws. When there are only a handful of manufacturers for a high-demand demand product, and a new one opens up right in your backyard, you can't help but to feel incredibly lucky. Karrie and Kathryn make a great product, and on top of that, are committed to supporting the Rochester community and making a difference."
To learn more about Wegmans’ sustainability efforts, click here. To learn more about Roc Paper Straws, visit rocpaperstraws.com.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a regional supermarket chain with 110 stores located along the east coast. The family company, recognized as an industry leader and innovator, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for 26 consecutive years, ranking #4 in 2023. The company also ranked #5 for corporate reputation among the 100 most visible companies, according to the 2022 Axios Harris Poll 100 Reputation Quotient? study.