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Supplier Spotlights: Altria Group, Coca-Cola & King-Casey


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:


ACI Worldwide, global provider of real-time digital payment software and solutions, and Gilbarco Veeder-Root are collaborating to jointly certify the ACI point-to-point encryption (P2PE) data security offering, enabling merchants to protect millions of consumers who use debit or credit cards at their fuel pumps. The technology will also allow merchants to avoid millions of dollars in losses resulting from data breaches and fraud, the companies stated.

ACI and Gilbarco are partnering to exceed the EMV security requirements already addressed by Gilbarco related to the EMV liability shift in April. While EMV compliance will deter the usage of fraudulent cards, it does not solve the risk of breach and exposure of sensitive consumer cardholder data at the pump, the company said. The joint security solution works independently from a merchant's choice of acquirer, PIN entry device and point-of-sale, allowing fuel retailers to encrypt sensitive cardholder data either at the point of interaction at the pump or in-store, descoping their payments infrastructure from sensitive cardholder data.

"As the first manufacturer to bring an outdoor EMV solution to market, we are now looking beyond the concerns of magstripes and skimming to a new threat attacking businesses in new ways," said Dan Witkemper, director of North America payment marketing, Gilbarco. "ACI not only has an industry-leading P2PE solution but decades of experience serving the fuel and convenience industry, and we are excited to work with them to jointly provide this new security offering. Together, we will provide the industry with unmatched data security, preventing data breaches as we approach the EMV liability shift."

Debbie Guerra, executive vice president of ACI Worldwide, added: "Fuel and convenience store retailers are dealing with growing payment complexities as well as growing fraud and data breaches — both at the pump and in-store — making it more challenging to keep sensitive cardholder data safe. EMV compliance is one layer of security, but P2PE increases protection levels; through our strategic partnership with Gilbarco, we're delivering a joint secure payments platform with unified and agnostic P2PE capabilities that solves these challenges and further supports readiness for this year's EMV liability shift."


Altria Group received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the nation's foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality. The company joined the ranks of 767 major U.S. businesses that earned top marks this year, the fourth year in a row that it has received a perfect score.

"We know that to be successful in our 10-year Vision to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a non-combustible future we need to be a diverse, inclusive and welcoming place to work," said Altria CEO Billy Gifford. "This recognition is a testament to our employees and Mosaic, our LGBTQ employee resource group, who continuously work to ensure that our LGBTQ colleagues are included and have equal opportunity to grow and thrive."

The CEI rates companies on detailed criteria falling under four central pillars:

  • Non-discrimination policies across business entities;
  • Equitable benefits for LGBTQ workers and their families;
  • Supporting an inclusive culture; and
  • Corporate social responsibility.

Altria's efforts in meeting all of the CEI's criteria earned a 100 percent ranking and the designation as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.


American Licorice acquired the Torie & Howard brand, which was founded by Torie Burke and Howard Slatkin in 2012 with a pledge to produce health friendly and socially conscious treats.

Torie & Howard Organic Hard Candy and Chewie Fruities Organic Candy Chews were created to delight consumers with keen palates who crave indulgent treats with organic ingredients, according to the company. They are USDA organic and Kosher certified, allergen friendly, non-GMO, vegan and gluten free.

Additionally, Torie Burke has joined the American Licorice team to continue developing the Torie & Howard Brand.


Bidi Vapor received a premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) filing letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its family of disposable e-cigarettes known as Bidi Stick. The filing letter was the last hurdle before advancing to the substantive review.

The company initially submitted its PMTA on Sept. 8, 2020, and received its acceptance letter on Feb. 9. Having received the filing letter, the application has met the FDA's baseline criteria to move onto the third and final phase of the PMTA process.

"Seeking an order for the continued marketing of Bidi Sticks in the United States is a long process. But it was always our goal to provide a premium vaping experience and an option to traditional, combustible tobacco that meets the needs of every adult smoker," said Niraj Patel, president and CEO of Kaival Brands Innovations Group Inc., exclusive global distributor of all products manufactured by Bidi Vapor. "We couldn't be more pleased that we are one step closer to achieving this goal."

Kaival Brands officials are hopeful that once the FDA establishes that the Bidi Stick meets the "appropriate for the protection of the public health" criteria established in the Tobacco Control Act, the Agency will issue marketing orders that authorize the continued marketing and sale of the Bidi Stick disposable e-cigarettes in the United States.

"This substantive review phase is where months of extensive information collection and hard work gathering together 285,000 pages of science-based evidence will pay off, as we continually put consumer health and the environment first," Patel concluded.


Coca-Cola trademark brands (Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero Sugar, Coca-Cola flavors) debuted a 13.2-ounce bottle made from 100 percent recycle PET (rPET) in February in California, Florida and select Northeastern states, with other sparkling beverage brands following this summer.

"Challenges around plastic packaging waste and recycling continue to be top of mind for our consumers, customers and our system," said Alpa Sutaria, vice president and general manager, sustainability, North America operating unit. "Introducing 100 precent recycled PET bottles is a big proof point of how recycling can help create a circular economy."

The new bottle uses less plastic and offers a convenient, sippable portion size. It is the first-ever Coca-Cola package made from 100 percent rPET in the U.S.

"On-the-go consumers have been telling us they want an option like this, because it's just the right amount for the 'snacking' occasion," said Tammy Lee, brand manager, Coca-Cola Trademark. "We believe this innovation delivers the double benefit of convenience and sustainability."

Coca-Cola North America's rPET innovations spans the portfolio and includes multiple brands and packaging sizes. Combined, these innovations represent a 20 percent reduction in the company's use of new plastic across its North American portfolio compared to 2018. They will collectively reduce 10,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually in the United States the equivalent of taking 2,120 cars off the road for one year based on internal company tools and analyses.


King-Casey and Personica are teaming up to help restaurant brands optimize their menus. By combining King-Casey's in-depth research of customer attitudes and behavior with Personica's best-in-class data and pricing analytics, the partnership will help joint clients increase profitability with low-risk enhancements to menu content and prices, according to the companies.

"The beauty of this approach is that it's based on methodologies that our firms have proven over the years," said Tom Cook, principal of King-Casey. "For more than 30 years, we've been helping restaurants increase sales and profits by applying our customer-centric menu optimization process. Now, Personica's analytical skills and algorithms enable us to develop and test different product and pricing strategies to determine which are best for improving business performance."

Using data gathered from POS and online ordering systems along with consumer insights gained through in-depth research, King-Casey and Personica will make recommendations to optimize restaurants' menu strategy, design, content and pricing structure in a way that promotes profitability while encouraging repeat customers.

"Our data-driven approach improves menu profit for our clients, without negatively impacting customer buying patterns and behavior," added Ted Babcock, vice president analytics services at Personica. "While we focus on analyzing data that shows customers' actual buying behavior, King-Casey brings the ability to understand the sentiments driving that behavior. By working together, we can provide clients a powerful combination of recommendations to optimize their menu."

NCR Corp.

NCR and Cardtronics entered into a definitive agreement under which NCR will acquire all outstanding shares of Cardtronics for $39 per share in an all-cash transaction with an enterprise value of approximately $2.5 billion, including debt. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

"This transaction accelerates the NCR-as-a-Service strategy we laid out at Investor Day in December, further shifts NCR's revenue mix to software, services and recurring revenue, and adds value for our customers," said Michael D. Hayford, President and CEO of NCR. "We have had a long-standing relationship with Cardtronics and its outstanding team. Its Allpoint network is highly complementary to NCR's payments platform, and the combined company will be able to seamlessly connect retail and banking customers. Simply put, we are better together."

The combined company is expected to achieve $100 million to $120 million in run rate operating cost synergies by the end of 2022.

"We are pleased to announce this compelling transaction, which will deliver superior value to our shareholders," said Edward H. West, CEO of Cardtronics. "This is a testament to the strength and value of Cardtronics, our talented team and customer base, and the complementary nature of our two businesses. Our Board determined that this transaction, which follows a comprehensive process and review of alternatives, is in the best interest of Cardtronics and our shareholders."


Online consumer packaged goods (CPG) product discovery platform RangeMe announced partnerships with multiple leading certification bodies in an industry-wide initiative to help retail buyers find higher quality products and bring greater transparency to the shelf. The partnerships will promote deeper education of what it means for brands to carry certifications and greater visibility of certifications to the nearly 200,000 suppliers on the platform.

"Third-party certifications are powerful because they quickly show consumers that your brand is committed to quality products," said Hans Eisenbeis, director of marketing for the Non-GMO Project. "Through RangeMe, brands can quickly learn about the certifications that shoppers are seeking on store shelves, and understand which certifications align with their own values."

As part of the effort to support suppliers and their products in attaining the certifications they need, RangeMe is bringing its certification partners center stage through a dedicated section in RangeMe Services, where suppliers can browse, message and work directly with the certification bodies themselves, the company said. The result showcases higher quality brands and products for retailers and their buyers to discover on RangeMe.

"We've seen a drastic increase in buyer interest for brands that carry one or more certifications," said Nicky Jackson, CEO and Founder of RangeMe. "Providing our suppliers a hand in achieving those certifications is just another element of RangeMe's mission. It also gives our retailers and their buyers a bigger pool of products to discover that will match what their consumers want."

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