Supplier Spotlights: Anchor Packaging, Mondelēz International & Skip
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:
American Licorice Co.
American Licorice has joined The Ellen MacArthur Foundations' New Plastic Economy Global Commitment, which brings together corporations, non-profits and government entities from across the globe to tackle the problem of plastic waste. The company is committed to ensure that all plastic packaging is 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable by the year 2025.
To move toward its goals, American Licorice Company has joined the Organic Sustainable Community's packaging coalition. This group is specifically focused on researching and supporting compostable packaging products and looks at non-petroleum-based materials as they work toward more sustainable packaging.
"At American Licorice Company, we are always striving to improve our business practices to have a positive impact on our communities and the natural environment. Sustainability measures and robust reduction efforts have always been a part of our commitment to social responsibility," said Kristi Shafer, vice president of marketing for American Licorice Company. "As another extension of our commitment, we are thrilled to be a part The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and its mission to build a framework to help restore and regenerate the environment."
Anchor Packaging LLC was recognized by the State of Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Labor Safety Division for excellence in on-the-job safety. Between Feb. 24, 2017 and April 24, 2019, 959 Anchor employees accumulated 5 million work hours without incurring a lost-time, work-related injury or illness.
Only 34 other Arkansas companies have reached the milestone of 5 million hours, with Anchor being the first packaging company to do so. It accepted an award for the achievement during a June 12 ceremony attended by Ralph T. Hudson, deputy director, Arkansas Department of Labor; Scott Wilhite from the Workers Compensation Commission; Sue McGowan, director of economic development and CEO of Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce; and Chris Imbs, chairman of the board, Crane Agency.
Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold, the first national beer brand to be USDA-certified organic, launched a new initiative, "Contract for Change," which supports American barley farmers who want to transition conventional fields to try organic production for the first time.
The brand and expert agronomists will provide assistance to farmers as they navigate the costly and time-consuming steps required to grow certified organic crops. To make the switch to organic, farms must undergo a three-year transition period with uncertain future markets, which can be expensive and therefore prohibits many farmers from making the change.
Michelob ULTRA will sign long-term, full-rotation contracts to purchase the barley grown from the beginning of the transition period through the first year of organic production, and Pure Gold will purchase transitional barley at a premium price, supporting farmers during the transition window.
"A quality beer starts with the farmers dedicated to producing the best ingredients," said Azania Andrews, Vice President of Michelob ULTRA. "We are proud to support the expansion of the organic grains industry by enabling farmers who want to make the transition to produce organic."
Antunes finalized its acquisition of technology company StoreLynk on June 21, following growing demand for the company's "connected kitchen" platform in the foodservice industry. Designed specifically for restaurants and food vendors, the StoreLynk cloud-based analytics platform simplifies the integration of sensors and Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled equipment that transforms the data into a dashboard for reporting purposes. The technology supports an operation's standardized actions and procedures.
"We are excited to welcome StoreLynk and its groundbreaking connected kitchen capabilities to the Antunes family," said Glenn Bullock, CEO of Antunes. "This expansion represents a new chapter for our commitment to customer success in the rapidly modernizing foodservice industry."
Antunes first formed an initial alliance with StoreLynk in 2017, when they began development of IoT-enabled equipment connected through a central analytics hub.
Atlas holdings LLC entered into a definitive agreement to acquire TreeHouse Foods Inc.'s snacks division for $90 million, subject to certain post-closing adjustments.
The division employs more than 800 people and is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of private label healthy snacks to premier retail customers in North America, as well as a leader in the nuts and trail mix categories.
"This snacks business will be a welcome addition to the Atlas family of manufacturing and distribution companies," said Michael Sher, partner of Atlas Holdings. "Customers are consistently choosing private label brands, and this business is a premier manufacturer with unique growth potential. We're excited to partner with this team to deliver the finest healthy, private label snacks in the industry."
Celsius Holdings Inc.
Celsius Holdings, maker of the global fitness drink Celsius, announced a major launch at QuikTrip convenience stores. The beverage will be located on the top shelf of the energy door with a full shelf authorized in every market except Arizona, which will have a half shelf.
"The convenience channel represents the largest energy drink market in the country with over $9 billion in annual sales," said John Fieldly, President and CEO of Celsius Holdings. "Celsius aligns perfectly with our convenience store channel partners as we bring an expanded demographic to the energy category, specifically women who account for approximately 53 percent of our sales as well as adult males who target a healthier alternative to traditional energy drinks."
Celsius also announced that the company has made noteworthy progress in the build out of its national distribution network, which now includes more than 50 regional direct store delivery (DSD) partners, including many premier beverage distributors.
"The accelerated rate of growth Celsius is achieving in the US market has positioned the company to translate these impressive gains into the buildout of our national DSD platform, which we expect to achieve full coverage across the country in the next 12 months if not sooner," Fieldly said. "With the national rollout through Target, CVS, Rite-Aid, Food Lion, 7-Eleven and others, the well-coordinated efforts by our sales team to leverage these national accounts into new regional DSD partners has been both impressive and continues to scale rapidly.
"We are seeing significant opportunities to further build across all market channels, especially in the convenience vertical where Celsius is significantly outpacing all competitors in sales growth metrics. We continue to garner significant interest from the best distributors in the country, further supporting our momentum and broadening our retail availability through 2019 as we leverage our partners' networks driving further accessibility of our products."
Emerson was a sponsor of World Refrigeration Day on June 26. The first annual event, celebrated on the 195th birthday of Lord Kelvin, was intended to raise awareness and understanding of the significant role that refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) technology plays in modern living.
During a 90-minute webinar titled "Refrigerants for Life: How Refrigerants Affect Modern Life," Dr. Rajan Rajendran, vice president, system innovation center and sustainability for Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions, presented on the responsible use of refrigerants.
"At Emerson, we are committed to helping our customers address the world's most critical needs. We are excited to participate in World Refrigeration Day and promote the role that refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump technologies and applications have in today's world," Rajendran said. "We aim to advance the dialogue and are actively engaged with leaders in the refrigeration and air conditioning industries to address the many challenges the industry is facing — including evolving environment related regulations; climate change awareness; the growing ubiquity of digital technologies; food safety and quality needs; and the never-ending energy and operating cost concerns."
GreenPrint is partnering with Plastic Bank to offer its clients and partners the opportunity to become plastic neutral by offsetting their plastic consumption with Social Plastic Collections Credits (SPCC). SPCC fund the recovery and recycling of an equivalent volume of ocean-bound plastic, effectively neutralizing the environmental impact of virgin plastic use, the company said.
Other programs include Ecosystem Activation Partners that allow companies to fund the creation of new Social Plastic Ecosystem, using block chain technology, building branded branches in different places and engage local communities to begin converting waste into currency.
"It's our responsibility as a business and as individuals to support our communities and environment. That's why we are excited to partner with Plastic Bank, which will give our clients another opportunity to engage with their customers and communities through sustainability programs and make a notable and competitive difference," said Pete Davis, founder and CEO of GreenPrint. "Plastic Bank's mission is to stop Ocean Plastic by gathering a billion people together to monetize waste while improving lives aligns with GreenPrint and our client's missions seamlessly."
Groupon partnered with GasBuddy to form a U.S. distribution partnership. Under the terms of the deal, Groupon will provide GasBuddy with local food and drink merchants' card-linked offers content. After they enroll via the GasBuddy app, consumers can load offers directly to an eligible payment card. When they visit businesses with the offers and pay with the enrolled card, they will receive GasBuddy GasBack redeemable for free gas at 95 percent of gas stations across the United States through the Pay with GasBuddy program.
"Partnering with GasBuddy makes perfect sense for us given our shared value proposition of convenience and savings in your local community," said Sarah Butterfass, chief product officer for Groupon. "Nearly 20 percent of all U.S. internet users come to Groupon every month. While that's an impressive number, we also recognize our potential as a distribution platform as well as the value of connecting with consumers outside of our ecosystem."
The partnership is expected to go live during the second half of the year.
"GasBuddy's goal is to give away more free gas in the United States and Canada than any other company," said GasBuddy CEO Sarah McCrary. "Consumers value gasoline as a currency more than cash itself, and by adding local restaurants, coffee shops and other food and drink businesses, GasBuddy is giving consumers more ways to earn GasBack than anyone else."
Heineken and Formula E have teamed up for Heineken to be an official partner of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The five-year partnership kicked off in November 2018 with Heineken joining the electric street racing series as Official Beer and Cider Partner.
"Formula E gives Heineken an excellent opportunity to engage with current and potential millennial and GenZ consumers in key cities around the world, including Santiago de Chile, Mexico City and Rome, with the two final rounds in New York City," said Gianluca Di Tondo, senior director Global Heineken brand. "We are doing this by showing fans unexpected and interesting facets of the sport, activating strongly around a number of select E-Prix in urban settings throughout the season."
The partnership complements Heineken's association with Formula One and other sponsorship platforms, such as UEFA Champions League and the Rugby World Cup, the company said.
Lance is returning for its seventh year as the Official Snack of Little League Baseball and Softball. To celebrate the partnership's seven-year anniversary, it announced:
- A new Lance "For The Win" campaign to help fuel and celebrate on-the-go families nationwide through fun new programming, including an on-site activation that will fuel families at the Little League Baseball World Series from August 15-25;
- New insights into the top pregame rituals that will inspire today's youth in sports to get into "winning mindsets" day in and day out; and
- A brand new "My Coach, My Hero" Award that will celebrate coaches who foster winning on and off the field.
"We're thrilled to be teaming up with Little League Baseball and Softball for another exciting year," said Chris Graziano, director of marketing, Lance. "As part of our brand heritage, Lance has always been committed to fueling families on-the-go, and that mission is perfectly aligned with Little League's influential work as a place for active families to thrive in the world of sports."
Mondelēz International will acquire a majority interest in Perfect Snacks, a pioneer in the fast-growing refrigerated nutrition bars segment. Its organic, non-GMO, nut-butter based protein bars and bites complement Mondelēz International's portfolio of global and local brands, according to the company.
"We have a mission to lead the future of snacking by offering the right product, for the right moment, made the right way," said Glen Walter, executive vice president and president, North America, for Mondelēz International. "Perfect Snacks is an amazing brand, growing fast and a great complement to our existing portfolio that expands our leadership across broader snacking. Well-being snacks in general, and refrigerated well-being snacks in particular, are a fast-growing segment and we look forward to working with and supporting the Keith family to help accelerate this brand's great momentum."
Mondelēz International plans to operate Perfect Snacks as a separate business in order to nurture its entrepreneurial spirit and maintain the authenticity of the brand, while providing resources to help accelerate growth, the company said.
"We are so excited to be joining the Mondelēz International family," said Bill Keith, co-founder and CEO of Perfect Snacks. "We believe Mondelēz International's purpose, to 'empower people to snack right', aligns very well with why we started this brand and this business. We look forward to the great opportunity for Perfect Snacks to continue to grow and innovate as part of Mondelēz International."
Pizza Inn Express
Pizza Inn Express (PIE) opened its first Louisiana location inside a new Exxon On the Run, alongside a Billy's Boudin. The store is located at 106 W. Pont Des Mouton Road in Lafayette.
"We're excited to give our community a new brand of pizza that is fast, fresh and easy to access on the go," said co-licensee and co-operator Sophie Guidry. "PIE adds delicious variety to our new convenience store offerings. We're looking forward to our partnership with Pizza Inn."
The Louisiana location marks the first Pizza Inn's first deal with Fortier Inc., a supplier of store equipment to the convenience store and food service industry. It is the 10th PIE overall.
RELEX Solutions acquired Zenopt, an advanced workforce optimization system, in a move that strengthens its position as a trusted provider of unified retail planning solutions, the company said.
RELEX's Workforce Optimization and Management solution will work in conjunction with its Demand Forecasting solution, automatically optimizing work shifts based on store-level demand. Using granular data with up to 15 minutes of accuracy, RELEX customers can ensure they have the right staff on hand to service each store's need at each moment of the day.
"By fully incorporating the Workforce Optimization and Management solution into our solution suite, we're able to help our customers bridge yet another gap in their retail planning," said RELEX Group CEO Mikko Kärkkäinen. "Our goal is always to reduce costs, increase profits, improve employee experience and help our customers keep their shoppers happy. The Workforce solution is a powerful tool to achieve that goal."
Rocky Mountain High Brands
Rocky Mountain High Brands Inc. executed a broker agreement with Carlin Group to represent its product line to the retail market. This includes CBD-infused beverages and CBD-infused wellness products under the HEMPd brand, hempseed extract-infused beverages under the Rocky Mountain and Rocky Mountain High brands and Spirit Water.
The states covered by this agreement are Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Illinois Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Nebraska.
"We are very excited about the opportunity to have our entire product line represented by Carlin Group," said Michael Welch, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain High Brands. "This puts us in a solid position to maximize exposure to major retailers, convenience stores, grocery store chains, mass marketers, and an assortment of other outlets that we would not otherwise be able to reach on a cost-effective basis.
"We will work in close collaboration with Carlin Group to make sure our products are on retail shelves. After considering many options for retail introduction, we believe that this is the best fit for our company as it gets more of our products into retail on a faster basis," he added.
Sara Lee Frozen Bakery
Sara Lee Frozen Bakery selected convenience store foodservice sales and marketing agency Ultimate Sales to serve as its national c-store broker as of July 1. The company became a standalone bakery in August 2018.
"For the last few years Sara Lee was on the sidelines, but with new management 'We're Back' with the right portfolio and infrastructure," said Rob Kirkpatrick, vice president, sales. "Once we focused our sales needs on a broker who understands c-store foodservice, it quickly became clear that Ultimate Sales' progressive culture is a great fit for Sara Lee Bakery. Ultimate's 'out-of-the-box,' forward thinking and sales reporting analytics is far superior to any competitors that we interviewed. And our c-store customers are now excited to work with a bakery company dedicated to helping grow their coffee program and late afternoon snacking category."
This summer, Sara Lee Frozen Bakery is launching its largest rollout of new products with 11 offerings, including pre-sliced pie, brownies, cornbread and an assortment of desserts.
Skip reached 300 convenience store activations of its Frictionless Checkout service. This includes chain-wide rollouts at Enmarket, Cruizers and High's c-stores during the second quarter of 2019, with many more retail banners contracted to roll out this year.
The company reported that it has found increased success in launching new sites by streamlining its onboarding and activation process for chain-wide rollouts, a process which can be completed in less than two weeks.
WEX Inc. completed its previously announced acquisition of Go Fuel Card, the fuel card business of EG Group, in early July.
The Go Fuel Card business is headquartered in Breda, Netherlands, with approximately 200,000 proprietary cards in circulation across the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Luxembourg. It operates on an independent proprietary card network and is accepted at more than 5,000 retail sites.
Mobile payment and rewards technology platform ZipLine acquired SmartClixx, a gift card payment platform known for its highly configurable and customizable 'closed-loop' stored value software platform. The acquisition allows ZipLine to enter the gift card space, complementing its existing consumer payments and loyalty capabilities.
"We're excited to continue our path of rapid growth and expansion into new markets; acquiring SmartClixx and its experienced team is another step in that direction," said ZipLine CEO Stephen Goodrich. "For two decades SmartClixx has licensed and deployed its robust technology, processing billions of dollars in transactions on behalf of some of the world's most recognizable brands. Together, we will combine our unique platforms on behalf of merchant partners, including in new verticals, to deliver secure, enhanced, alternative payment and rewards solutions for years to come."