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07/28/2021

Supplier Spotlights: Acosta, Fintech & Hershey

Gilbarco Veeder-Root, PIM Brands and others also announce acquisitions, campaigns and partnerships.
Promotion In Motion rebrands as PIM Brands and opens new global headquarters
Promotion In Motion rebrands as PIM Brands and opens new global headquarters

NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store suppliers are a major part of capturing consumer interest. Convenience Store News will regularly highlight such efforts in this roundup.

Here are the latest supplier spotlights:

ACOSTA

Acosta, a global integrated sales and marketing services provider in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, teamed with progressive foodservice sales agency the CORE Group to create CORE Foodservice, a reimagined, best-in-class North American agency focused on providing solutions for the foodservice industry's new operating environment.

CORE Foodservice creates a strategically resourced organization designed to meet the requirements of new customer behaviors and expectations, and was deliberately and proactively formed to provide enhanced execution and a greater competitive differentiation for its clients and customers, according to the companies. The business will tap into Acosta's robust data and analytics capabilities to provide diner and shopper insights that can drive solutions for clients and their customers.

"COVID-19 has changed market and operating conditions dramatically, sparking the need for innovation and new approaches that defy conventional selling models," said John Goodman, CEO of the combined foodservice business. "Our dedicated segment structure with over 750 customer-facing associates extends our reach while balancing proprietary technologies with human-touch execution."

"This move structures us for today's market realities and helps our clients to redefine and modernize their end-to-end selling processes," added Acosta CEO Brian Wynne. "Working in harmony with Acosta's retail, eCommerce and marketing capabilities, CORE Foodservice will help clients accelerate sales growth and earn greater market share. I am excited to have John Goodman as CEO of this business and welcome him as a senior member of our global leadership team. Taylor Crown, who recently led Acosta Foodservice, will remain with the business, and following a transition period, will move to an executive role within our strategy and transformation team to focus on helping clients succeed as we integrate the two organizations."

Acosta also announced its acquisition of Impact Group, a dynamic sales and marketing agency with a national presence and local market expertise in natural, specialty, ethnic and emerging brands. As a result of the acquisition, Acosta will launch two new sub-brands: Impact NSS and Acosta | Berg. Acosta's Natural Specialty Sales business will be renamed Impact NSS, and Impact Group will become part of this unit. Acosta | Berg will offer a unique and specialized van-based sales business serving metropolitan retailers in key urban markets.

The deal will offer clients of both companies access to a wider range of expertise to help their products grow. New opportunities include a highly differentiated national confection solution; a hyperlocal, van-based sales solution; and a dedicated distribution capability to help emerging brands get to market.

"We proudly welcome Impact Group and all of its talented associates into the Acosta family and are thrilled to further expand our offerings and provide even greater value to our partners," said Wynne. "With Impact Group's strength in regional markets and Acosta's specialty in intimate customer relationships, our clients will receive the level of service and attention they need to succeed. We look forward to a bright future for our associates and clients."

CALICO BRANDS Inc.

Calico Brands, supplier of multi-purpose and pocket lighters in the United States, launched its newly redesigned corporate website at calicobrands.com. The new site features a streamlined, modern design, improved functionality and navigation and easy access to essential product information.

All product lines available under the Scripto and King brand names are showcased on the site, which features updated product descriptions and details. It also includes a detailed product listing for Calico Brands' private label program. Lifestyle imagery highlights its "For the Lighter Moments" campaign, which focuses on everyday "lighter" moments where Scripto and King multi-purpose and pocket lighters can be used such as birthday parties, barbecue/grilling, lighting candles, campfires, fireplaces and more.

The primary goal of the redesign process was to create a more user-centric, valuable, and responsive resource across all platforms and devices, the company said. Calcio specifically wanted to focus on making it easier for users to navigate and find valuable information about its extensive multi-purpose and pocket lighter product offerings.

D&H UNITED FUELING SOLUTIONS

D&H United Fueling Solutions, which supplies petroleum fuel system equipment, installation and service in the Southwest, acquired Oklahoma City-based Petroleum Marketers Equipment Co. of Oklahoma City, a full-service petroleum industry supplier covering the state of Oklahoma and northern Texas with branches in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Dallas-Fort Worth.

"We are very excited to welcome Bryan Newcomb and the Petroleum Marketer's team to the D&H United family," said Bob Sasnett, CEO of D&H. "We have a deep respect for their team and the 50-plus-year history and reputation in our industry. Our companies have a similar family-oriented culture with a focus on providing excellent service to our customers. Together, we will provide greater scale, resources and coverage for both our customers and vendor partners."

The combined companies will have approximately 350 employees, including 230 field technicians, with 12 branches operating in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana and Arkansas.

"We are extremely pleased to join the D&H United team," said Bryan Newcomb, president of Petroleum Marketers. "I could not think of a better fit for our company. D&H United has similar values and culture and is a perfect match with our geographic coverage areas. The combination provides the largest coverage area in the Southwest for both our team and customers."

FINTECH

Financial Information Technologies (Fintech), a business solutions provider for the alcohol industry, hit a service milestone of 700,000 retailer-to-distributor connections for automated alcohol invoice payments.

Through these connections, thousands of businesses across the United States are linked for automated, electronic alcohol invoice payments through Fintech, the company said. This milestone solidifies Fintech's place as a pioneer within the industry, delivering affordable and innovative technology that revolutionizes operational efficiency for thousands of alcohol retailers and distributors.

"We are incredibly proud of this momentous achievement for Fintech, and we sincerely thank every single client that has trusted us in building our network," said Fintech CEO Tad Phelps. "This is a testament to not only the outstanding value of our solutions, but also to the hard work and dedication of the entire Fintech team. We pride ourselves on providing world-class support, and we are passionate about continuing to deliver unmatched tools and services for our clients for many years to come."

Fintech also announced its acquisition of STX Business Solutions, a web-based data management platform for the CPG and retail industry built on Microsoft Power BI. This fuels the growth of Fintech's data capabilities and further strengthens its commitment to the beverage alcohol industry.

"We're pleased to join the Fintech team; their success and leadership in the industry will provide exceptional support as we continue to grow our products and services," said Jon Thompson, co-founder of STX Business Solutions. "STX was built from a desire to provide support and insight to businesses within the complex alcohol industry, and partnering with Fintech allows us to expand our reach."

STX's technology consolidates data points from several sources, creating credible and actionable data reports that expedite business performance. Through this scalable platform, STX users access up-to-date trend analysis, allowing alcohol suppliers, distributors and retailers to track product success and performance.

"By blending STX's powerful BI tools with Fintech's industry-leading data platform, we will have the ability to seamlessly expand our offerings across the three-tier system, making operating within the alcohol industry easier while driving higher returns for our clients," said Amber Muehlbach, co-founder of STX.

FURMANO'S

Furmano's, a leading producer of tomatoes, beans, ancient grains and vegetables, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021. The family-owned business is based in central Pennsylvania and using the centennial as a springboard into the future.

"This is a big moment for the whole Furmano Foods family and all the team members, partners and customers who helped us get here," said Chad Geise, president, CEO and fourth generation family member. "We want to reflect on the past and build upon what we've done to inspire our next 100 years."

The company first began canning tomatoes to offer them to people year-round. Today, Furmano's still continually innovates to meet the changing needs of the market by infusing trends and best practices into new product offerings.

"Innovating to meet the changing needs of our customers has been pivotal to Furmano's reaching this milestone," said Jen Esposito, vice president of sales and marketing for Furmano's. "It's really the core of the company. We're not afraid to invest in products or packaging to be a better partner to our customers."

Furmano's hopes that the anniversary helps sow the seeds for a fruitful next century.

"We're grateful to reach this milestone," Geise said. "Holding true to our heritage, we continue to thank God for the blessings we've enjoyed over the years. We look forward to the future as we continue to evolve to meet the needs of our customers and give back to our local community."

GILBARCO VEEDER-ROOT

Gilbarco Veeder-Root, a Vontier Corp. business and leader in fueling and convenience store technologies, partnered with car wash technology company Digital Mosaic to sell and promote mobile and at-pump solutions for car wash single sale and subscription programs in North America.

Mosaic-at-the-Pump is an application that promotes subscription car washes using engaging media at the fuel pump, the most effective place to sell a car wash. Eye-catching marketing is designed to entice consumers and encourage them to download the Mosaic mobile app. When they are ready to wash their car, they drive to the car wash entrance, follow directions via an automated prompt on their phone and the car wash terminal activates automatically, with no staff interaction necessary.

Until now, the process to join a car wash subscription program has been time consuming and inconvenient, with many retailers requiring their customers to wait in-store for a cashier to sign them up and install a tag in their vehicle, according to the companies.

"We are excited about our partnership with Mosaic because we believe this technology is the future of car wash," said Chris Whitley, vice president of sales and marketing, Gilbarco Veeder-Root North America. "This collaboration between our team and Mosaic is a springboard for any car wash operator looking to use technology to increase subscription revenue without added overhead."

THE HERSHEY CO.

The Hershey Co. completed its $425 million acquisition of Lily's, a high-growth maker of low-sugar, better-for-you (BFY) confectionery products.

"Lily's is a great addition to Hershey's growing portfolio of better-for-you snacking brands, and we are excited to add this high-growth, leading BFY brand and to get to work with its talented and innovative team," said Chuck Raup, president U.S. "Lily's popular low-sugar products are a great strategic fit with our multi-pronged better-for-you snacking strategy and will perfectly complement our existing iconic Hershey's BFY offerings."

Hershey also partnered with Land O'Lakes Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies and a member-owned cooperative, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to implement on-farm best management practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Initial funding for Sustainable Dairy PA comes from The Hershey Company's $300,000 commitment to support the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Land O'Lakes in helping install agricultural conservation practices on Land O'Lakes member dairy farms. The partnership includes 119 Land O'Lakes member-owners in central Pennsylvania that ship 50 percent or more of their milk supply to Hershey.

"Leadership from corporations, like that of Hershey and Land O'Lakes, is critical to restoring Pennsylvania's rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, and reaching our climate goals. With so many passionate businesses in our watershed, we hope this partnership inspires others to take action towards a more sustainable future," said Jenna Mitchell Beckett, Pennsylvania state director and agriculture program director at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.    

The initiative has begun working with dairy farmers in south-central Pennsylvania and is actively building a list of their conservation needs that will guide the program's priorities, according to Hershey. In addition to working with the initial 119 farms, the partnership has the potential to reach more than 400 Land O'Lakes member farms supplying milk to Hershey as funding and support grows.

"We recognize that global impact means teaming up with other leading organizations like The Hershey Co. and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and we're excited to support this new initiative," said Glenda Gehl, Land O'Lakes senior director of member relations. "Through the Land O'Lakes Dairy 2025 Commitment, we are committed to developing measurable ways for our farmer-members to reduce their environmental footprint in a manner that supports on-farm profitability and meets the expectations of our customers and consumers."

HOSTESS BRANDS

Hostess Brands LLC launched its new "Live Your Mostess" integrated advertising campaign, the first national ad campaign for the Hostess brand in nearly a decade. Developed in partnership with Grey Midwest and Edelman, and produced by WPP's Townhouse, the campaign underscores the accelerated growth journey the brand experienced over the past year and a half, including a record year of sales for Hostess Brands and the successful acquisition of Voortman Cookies Limited in 2020.

"This campaign celebrates our passionate consumers as they find moments of joy with beloved Hostess brands every day. If there's one thing our brand and consumers know, it's joy, and this campaign is a celebration of that," said Andy Callahan, Hostess president and CEO. "Hostess has always stood for lighthearted spontaneity. Our snacks are irresistible and delicious, and even our product names embody a sense of fun and delight."

The "Live your Mostess" campaign campaign drives consideration and excitement around iconic Hostess products. It features a tongue-in-cheek "How To" digital content series with two video commercials featuring Hostess hero products Twinkies and Donettes, launching across online, social and TV channels. The spots are meant to capture the sense of joy the iconic snack cakes inspire consumers to play out in everyday life.

"Our consumers have an inherent sense of happiness they want to share with the world," said Kelly Gronlund, director of consumer insights. "They see life and sweet indulgent snacking as something that is meant to be enjoyed, for themselves and those around them."

HUNT BROTHERS PIZZA

Hunt Brothers Pizza is bringing back Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza, one of its most popular limited-time offers (LTO). Starting July 26, store partners can offer the specialty pizza, which elevates chicken-topped pizza with the addition of creamy ranch and crispy bacon.

Now in its seventh offering, Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza is a unique combination topped with a ranch sauce, all-natural chicken breast, a blend of 100 percent natural part-skim mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, bacon pieces and a sprinkling of the company's signature Just Rite Spice. The savory flavors of chicken and bacon combine with a ranch sauce to create a one-of-a-kind flavor, according to Hunt Brothers.

"Our LTOs are created for easy preparation to fit seamlessly into our store partners' current Hunt Brothers Pizza program so that they can offer an exciting new item with ease," said Director of Marketing Dee Cleveland. "Whether it's a brand new LTO or a flavor-favorite, like Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza, these specialty offers continue to provide c-stores with the opportunity for increased foot traffic and boosted sales."

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza will be available as a made-to-order large whole pizza or a grab-and-go Hunk A Pizza while supplies last.

THE KRAFT HEINZ CO.

The Kraft Heinz Co. completed the sale of its nuts business to Hormel Food Corp. in a cash transaction for $3.35 billion. The deal includes most products sold under the Planters brand, including variety and mixed nuts, trail mix, Nut-rition products, Cheez Balls and Cheez Curls, as well as Corn Nuts branded products.

The transaction also includes global intellectual property rights to the Planters brand, subject to existing third-party licenses in certain international jurisdictions, and to the Corn Nuts brand.

"The sale of our Nuts portfolio is another important milestone in our transformation," said Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio. "The divestiture is a great example of our agile portfolio management and will help Kraft Heinz enhance our overall growth profile while enabling our strategic focus."

PIM BRANDS INC.

Global snacks and confections maker Promotion In Motion Inc. announced it is rebranding to PIM Brands Inc. as it continues on its long running and ambitious growth plan. The company also announced it has moved its global headquarters to a state-of-the art complex in Park Ridge, N.J.

PIM Brands Inc. will remain part of The Promotion In Motion Family of Cos., which also includes PIM Brands LLC, its manufacturing arm; Pharma In Motion and the newly created PIM Consumer Health, focusing on VMS nutraceuticals and over-the-counter pharma products; and PIM Brands Canada, PIM Brands Global, PIM Brands Hindustani, PIM Brands Iberica, PIM Brands Mexico, PIM Brands UK and more.

"As markets change, we will also continue to evolve, and our expanding lines of business and our product portfolios will follow in kind to meet ever developing consumer needs and customer requirements. Those goals also extend to ensuring we attract top talent both domestically and around the globe. Adopting our new name and visual identity are designed to help us ensure we succeed," said President and CEO Michael G. Rosenberg. "The new name helps clarify what we do, which is to make, market and sell the highest-quality, greatest tasting, and most preferred consumer-loved brands."

PIM Brands' new global headquarters underwent a nearly $25 million renovation and expansion over the past year. The sprawling, state-of-the-art complex includes extensive R&D, tasting and sensory labs, a pilot manufacturing lab, graphics studios, retail planogram layout rooms and ample work areas for remote-based associates when visiting, along with expansive office and conferencing spaces for PIM's 150 and constantly growing corporate headquarter-based associates.

"We're excited to provide our associates and visitors with a truly world-class facility which includes both the technology and creature comforts to support a collaborative, engaging and high-performance environment," Rosenberg said.