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Thousands of products were on display at the 2013 McLane National Trade Show

Convenience store retailers looking to stay ahead of the competition by offering an array of products most suited to their customers’ needs had the opportunity to review a mix of new products, old favorites and the latest brand extensions at the 2013 McLane National Trade Show. The two-day event took place Aug. 27–28 at Orlando’s Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel and brought together suppliers, retailers, brokers and even one former professional athlete.

“You have to have integrity to be successful,” advised Ron Jaworski, a former National Football League player, current ESPN analyst and CEO of Ron Jaworski Golf Management Inc., who opened the event as the official guest speaker. Even before he entered the business world, Jaworski learned many lessons as a professional athlete that would apply to his later career, he said, especially the importance of commitment, discipline and trust for those around you.

The former Philadelphia Eagles star recounted several experiences with different coaches and what he learned from their philosophies on and off the field. He also reminded show attendees that while their careers might be all business, they don’t have to be completely serious.

“Celebrate the small wins along the way and have fun while you do it,” he urged.

More than 125 exhibitors filled the show floor and offered a wide variety of new and established products for the convenience store market and other retail segments.

Two companies in particular had returning favorites on display. Hostess Brands LLC offered samples of its iconic Twinkies and CupCakes at one of its first industry events since the sweet snacks returned to store shelves amid record demand. Across the exhibition hall, Lil’ Drug Store Products revealed it will be the exclusive provider of Rolaids Rolls to the c-store industry, with four flavors available when the product relaunches.

Convenience and portability remain key considerations for suppliers who have redesigned existing brands. Mondelez International’s Trident gum will now be available in stand-up, resealable 40-count bags, while The J.M. Smucker Co.’s Jif to Go and Jif to Go Chocolate Silk offer mess-free, portable spreads for foodservice programs. Ferrero USA also displayed its Nutella & Go dipping snack, which the company said has been well received.

In the area of new products, electronic cigarettes had a healthy presence at this year’s show, as manufacturers expressed optimism for the future of the alternative tobacco product.

Although e-cigarette sales are projected to hit $1.7 billion by the end of 2013, National Tobacco Co.’s Steve Clark, senior director of national accounts, told Convenience Store News that he believes recent figures are conservative and that electronic cigarettes are actually a $2-billion category today. To help move from online sales to brick-and-mortar sales, National Tobacco created a mobile app with a store locator that lists where its V2 Cigs product line can be found.

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