Supplier Spotlights: Anheuser-Busch, Dunkin' & Hershey
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:
Platform Beer Co. is the newest craft partner to join Anheuser-Busch's Brewers Collective, a business unit that seeks to energize how people view, consume and experience beer by sharing the joy of brewing. Cleveland-based Platform will operate in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.
"In speaking with the other craft brewery founders in Brewers Collective, we know partnering with Anheuser-Busch means we will have the resources and the autonomy to bring our vision for Platform Beer Co. to life," said Platform co-founder Paul Benner. "Being able to continue leading the day-to-day operations was an important factor in our decision and we have no doubt that this partnership will benefit our loyal staff and passionate customer base."
Platform owns and operates four facilities in Ohio: its flagship Cleveland tasting room; a 60-barrel, Cleveland-based brewhouse; a tasting room in Columbus that doubles as a distribution center and warehouse; and its Cincinnati Tasting Room and coffee shop concept, LOCOBA.
"We are thrilled to welcome Paul, Justin and the entire Platform team to Brewers Collective," said Marcelo "Mika" Michaelis, president, Brewers Collective. "We are inspired by their experiential mindset, and we look forward to supporting their growth plans as they continue to push boundaries through their intrinsic craft values of education, connection and collaboration. It's this growth that will give beer drinkers access to even more choices in today's competitive and dynamic beer market."
blu e-cigarette brand will enter NASCAR in support of Richard Childress Racing's Tyler Reddick, which will celebrate NASCAR's history at Darlington Raceway with a throwback design honoring Kyle Petty's 1980s 7-Eleven scheme. The design scheme will prominently feature both 7-Eleven and blu, which retails at 7-Eleven.
"We're excited to enter the sport of NASCAR and partner with Richard Childress Racing, one of the most iconic teams in the sport," said Greg Moser, VP of Marketing at blu. "Naturally, we did a lot of homework before taking this step and in the end, it was a natural fit. NASCAR is a passion point of our existing blu consumers and the sport has a well-documented adult audience, where the incidence of smoking is higher than the national average. This was a perfect opportunity to connect adult smokers with our myblu product and recognize one of our top retail partners, 7-Eleven, with an iconic scheme for the No. 2 myblu Chevrolet."
The Throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway marks the first primary sponsorship secured by blu in NASCAR.
Bona Design Lab
The Retail Design Institute recognized Bona Design Lab for the design it created for ENEX, the licensee for Shell brand fuels and lubricants in Chile and operator of service stations as well as convenience stores under the Upa! and Upita! brands. The design was a finalist in the "Class of 2018 Winners" named by the Retail Design Institute in its 48th annual Store of the Year competition.
The new Upa! design marks the Chilean debut of the "foodvenience" concept formulated by Joseph Bona, president of Bona Design Lab. As a retail format, 'foodvenience' incorporates a product assortment typical of convenience stores combined with a grill serving fresh, gourmet-quality foods and an offer of other freshly prepared food and drinks. The award-winning store also offers an extensive selection of wines and liquors, a 5-degree beer cellar, an ice cream station and a variety of seating options that includes sofas, armchairs and workstations equipped with Wi-Fi.
"What differentiates this store is that it really is a destination for people who want to relax and enjoy a high-quality offering of food and beverages," Bona said. "The typical convenience store on a fuel site is for people who are in a hurry. Here, customers can enjoy a leisurely meal or drink or even use the space as a workplace away from home."
The dramatic architectural design of the high-rise building, which results in floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides of the store, dictated a layout which places the extensive seating in the front half of the store and concentrates the foodservice operations in the rear, according to Bona.
"In order to draw customers' attention to the food and drink offerings, we used dramatic, theatrical lighting that creates visually arresting highlights and contrasts," he said.
Celsius launched its first national guerilla marketing tour. The Live Fit tour officially kicked off in New York City on Sept. 7 with a Celsius-branded pop-up fitness event in Union Square. The event featured various interactive fitness activities, including outdoor classes hosted by popular local instructors from several nationwide fitness chains and competitive activities to inspire attendees and influencers to find what motivates them to live an active lifestyle.
The tour will visit 11 cities: New York City; Boston; Seattle and Portland, Ore.; San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, Calif.; Phoenix; Dallas; and Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Fla. Approximately 300,000 samples will be distributed along the way. Additionally, the tour will stop at various retailers, distributors, local events and fitness partners like Planet Fitness, Gold's Gym and 24 Hour Fitness.
"With Celsius's increased national availability and impressive distribution growth, the decision to launch our National Live Fit Marketing initiative at this time was a strategic one," said John Fieldly, president and CEO. "Our year-over-year revenue growth of 73% in the second quarter of 2019, as well as expansion with national retailer partners including Target, CVS, Rite Aid, 7-Eleven and Kroger, and the addition of significant DSD partners, makes this the time right time to continue to disrupt the market and drive further trial and awareness in these key geographies."
The Coca-Cola Co.
The Dasani brand of water is launching a pipeline of sustainable packaging innovations in support of Coca-Cola's global "World Without Waste" goal to make its bottles and cans with an average of 50 percent recycled material by 2030. Updates to Dasani's packaging line-up are designed to reduce plastic waste and increase the use of recycled and renewable materials in the United States, while ensuring that all Dasani bottles continue to be fully recyclable.
- The debut of HybridBottle, Coca-Cola's first package in the U.S. to be made with a mix of up to 50 percent plant-based renewable and recycled PET material.
- The expansion of package-less Dasani PureFill water dispensers with the addition of up to 100 PureFill units across the country beginning in fall 2019. The additional units are an evolution of the Coca-Cola Freestyle platform, garnering more efficiencies and scale than the previous test version of PureFill by leveraging the proprietary Coca-Cola Freestyle technology.
- The introduction of new aluminum cans (launching locally in the Northeastern United States this fall and expanding to other regions in 2020) and new aluminum bottles (available in mid-2020).
- Continued "light-weighting" across the Dasani package portfolio to support overall efforts to reduce the amount of virgin PET plastic procured by the Coca-Cola system.
- The addition of "How2Recycle" labels to all Dasani packages to help educate and encourage consumers to recycle after use (rolling out starting this fall).
"Today's announcement is the largest sustainability initiative in the history of the DASANI brand," said Lauren King, brand director, Dasani. "It's rooted in providing sustainable options for our consumers, while doubling down on our commitment to minimize our impact on the environment. Over the last decade we've been on a journey to make Dasani more sustainable through new package design and innovation, and we are now accelerating these efforts in support our company's ambitious goals to significantly reduce packaging waste around the world by 2030. While there is no single solution to the problem of plastic waste, the additional package and package-less options we are rolling out today mark an important next step in our effort to provide even more sustainable solutions at scale."
Dunkin' brought back its "Sip. Peel. Win." nationwide on-cup peel-and-win promotion to run Aug. 21-Sept. 24. More than $20 million worth of prizes includes groceries, gasoline, home improvement, clothing, airline travel, Dunkin' products and more.
Customers who purchase a large or extra-large hot, iced of frozen beverage, excluding hot espresso, at participating Dunkin' locations received a game piece stickered on their cup. Select game pieces featured a unique code to enter a daily and grand prize sweepstakes at SipPeelWin.com.
The prize pack for four grand prize winners includes:
- Dunkin' coffee for a year;
- Shell gasoline for a year;
- Shipt groceries for a year;
- JetBlue round-trip tickets for two;
- A $2,500 Amazon.com gift card; and
- A $2,000 home improvement gift card.
"Dunkin' beverages help keep our guests fueled with the winning spirit to get things done during their day, and with 'Sip. Peel. Win.', what's on the cup will give our guests the thrill of winning as well," said Tom Manchester, senior vice president, integrated marketing, Dunkin' U.S. "We're excited to head into fall by once again showing our appreciation for our loyal customers with the chance to win fantastic prizes for running on Dunkin'."
Dunkin' also launched new Burrito Bowls — the Fire Roasted Veggie Bowl and the Chorizo Bowl — and brought back its fall menu, which features pumpkin-flavored coffees and the new Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte, Apple Cider Donut and Munchkins doughnut hole treats, along with other pumpkin-themed products.
Q1 Consulting is now known as Foodservice IP. Originally developed as a growth vehicle for global conference and education leader Q1 Productions LLC, the company is making the name change alongside other major strategy improvements, including a focus on thought leadership and differentiation through highly experienced consultants, a foodservice industry-only focus and unmatched client deliverables.
"Our clients told us that our name was not necessarily reflective of the industry we serve — so we took a bit of our own advice as consultants and changed it," stated Tim Powell, managing principal of Foodservice IP. "We want our clients and the market to know we will continue to deliver the 'why?' behind the research that will lead to sustainable, competitive strategies."
Foodservice IP consultants are equipped to offer custom business solutions and insights on a wide array of areas in foodservice, including primary field work, brand positioning, opportunity assessment, strategy consulting, data interpretation and corporate strategy solutions.
"There is a large gap in customer service, quality and price in the foodservice research and consulting space and we believe this is the optimal time to make a move for the leadership position," Powell added.
The Hershey Co.
The Hershey Co. made minority investments in emerging snacking businesses FULFIL Holdings Limited and Blue Stripes LLC. C7 Ventures, Hershey's venture model, provides the company with new avenues for growth through the deployment of small capital investments in disruptive or emerging platforms focused on new occasions, new technologies and new go-to-market opportunities, according to the company.
"Successful companies evolve and engage consumers in new and different ways," said Chief Growth Officer Mary Beth West. "As we continue to expand our snacking portfolio, our innovation agenda takes a balanced approach across investing in core brands and experimenting with new business models. This includes creating new platforms through R&D, strategic acquisitions and investments in businesses that are sitting at the cross section of new consumer snacking needs."
FULFIL is a leading maker of great tasting, vitamin fortified, high protein nutrition bars in the United Kingdom and Ireland, while Blue Stripes Cacao Shop enables further go-to-market opportunities by offering experiential retail that combines the goodness of cocoa with a unique customer experience.
Payment Alliance International
Payment Alliance International (PAI), provider of portfolio management tools and services, acquired Eclipse Cash Systems. This adds more than 15,000 ATM terminals and brings an additional four financial institution partnerships to PAI's existing nationwide network of over 75,000 ATMs.
"Eclipse brings an important set of business expansion opportunities to PAI," said David Dove, CEO of PAI. "We are very pleased to have Eclipse CEO Chris Biedrzycki and his team join us."
The Eclipse team will join PAI and continue to work out of the Chandler, Ariz., office.
"The opportunity to join PAI is important to all of us at Eclipse," Biedrzycki said. "PAI provides scale, as well as industry-leading portfolio management tools for our market partners. Leveraging PAI's infrastructure and ATM expertise will benefit both our customers and staff through continued growth."
Performance Food Group
Performance Food Group Co. will acquire Reinhart Foodservice LLC from Reyes Holdings LLC in a transaction valued at $2 billion. Rosemont, Ill.-based Reinhart is the second largest privately held foodservice distributor in the United States.
"We are excited to announce the strategic acquisition of Reinhart and welcome them to Performance Food Group," stated George Holm, PFG Chairman, president and CEO. "I've known the Reyes family for nearly two decades, and they have built and grown an incredible company. We believe the addition of Reinhart and its complementary strengths will expand Performance Foodservice's broadline presence, improve our network efficiency and help us achieve our long-term growth goals.
"This transaction provides us with greater overall scale, a diverse customer base, including a solid base of independent customers, and builds upon our strong distribution platform," he added. "We believe these attributes along with attractive financial characteristics will enhance our ability to continue to deliver the service our customers need to succeed and create shareholder value."
The transaction, which has been approved by the PFG board of directors and the governing body of Reinhart, is subject to U.S. federal antitrust clearance and other customary closing conditions. It is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.
"We are excited to partner with PFG and believe this acquisition provides meaningful benefits to our customers and expanded opportunities for our employees," said Reyes Holdings Co-Chairman J. Christopher Reyes. "PFG has a solid track record of growth and leadership in our industry. We believe our strengths and the strong cultural connection our companies share will support continued success for many years to come."
Rich Products acquired Christie Cookie Co. Based in Nashville, Christie Cookie is a privately owned maker of gourmet cookies that brings more than 35 years of insight and expertise in premium baked goods with customers across foodservice, regional in-store bakeries, e-commerce, corporate gifting and retail bakery outlets, according to the company.
"The acquisition of Christie Cookie Company furthers our position as a premier supplier in the growing cookie category," said Ray Burke, president of Rich's U.S.-Canada business. "Adding the iconic and beloved Christie brand of products to our portfolio is something we're very excited about as we move forward."
Christie's employs nearly 100 associates, with one manufacturing facility and a strong direct-to-consumer platform, owns two retail bakery shops in Nashville, with an additional location in Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators.
Skupos announced that its digital platform grew beyond 9,200 stores, making it the largest connected network of convenience stores in the United States.
"We're proud to be trusted by thousands of owners and managers to connect their stores to distributors and CPG brands through our digital platform," said Skupos CEO Jake Bolling. "It's exciting to become the largest network of our kind in the country, but we have big plans to continue growing and adding value across the industry."
The Skupos platform continues to grow at double-digit rates every month, with a wide range of customers, the company said. Fifty-eight percent of Skupos locations belong to independent owners with five or fewer stores.
"Even though Skupos has already connected about 6 percent of the U.S. market, there are still many more stores to bring on to the Skupos data platform," said Zachary Kimball, vice president of strategy and growth. "That means a huge opportunity to help more retailers across the country adopt innovative technology."
Subway is partnering with Beyond Meat to test exclusive plant-based protein options. Starting in September for a limited time, 685 participating Subway restaurants in the United States and Canada will test the Beyond Meatball Marinara sub.
The sub is made with marinara sauce, Provolone cheese, grated parmesan cheese and the first-ever Beyond Meatball.
"Subway appeals to so many fans because we truly offer something for everyone. Our guests want to feel good about what they eat and they also want to indulge in new flavors," said Len Van Popering, Subway's chief brand and innovation officer. "With our new plant-based Beyond Meatball Marinara sub, we are giving them the best of both worlds. And, we are particularly excited about debuting a co-developed product that can't be found anywhere else: the Beyond Meatball made just for Subway."
Utz Quality Foods LLC, the Official Salty Snack of Major League Baseball (MLB), will serve as the presenting sponsor of the 2019 National League Division Series (NLDS). In its second season partnering with MLB, Utz has increased its excitement-building around the sport with advertising, promotions, sampling and a range of co-branded products.
The sponsorship grants Utz further brand-building exposure to MLB fans in hte post season across national broadcasts and MLB-owned channels, as well as integration in ballparks throughout the length of the NLDS series.
"Utz is proud to be partnering with Major League Baseball for a second season and our first post- season sponsorship," said Tom Flocco, president and chief operating officer of Utz. "This is a great opportunity to excite MLB fans during the peak season with the time-honored tradition of watching baseball and enjoying their favorite snack foods. Baseball and Utz snacks, they're a winning combination!"
Vulcan, Wolf, and Berkel
Vulcan, Wolf and Berkel of the ITW Food Equipment Group announced the launch of new websites. The redesigned sites feature major user experience improvements and buying tools to assist in product selection. The clean, intuitive designs enable quick navigation and help guide buying decisions with educational content and tools, supporting the company's mission of delivering innovative solutions to their customers.
"Today, digital channels are the food service industry's main source of information when researching products for purchase. We want to make sure our websites are providing the resources and tools they need to make an informed decision while also providing an engaging and streamlined digital experience," said Brenda Rice, director of marketing for ITW FEG cooking division.
Site visitors can find quick and easy access to product resources and information, plus new tools to help determine product needs. The Vulcan Equipment Guide helps users quickly narrow down and find the exact equipment they need based on product feature requirements and operational characteristics, including menu choices, seating capacity and available utilities. The sites also feature improved search capability, enhanced product filters, and side-by-side comparison tools that let users compare up to three pieces of equipment at once.
Van Holten's achieved SQF Level 2 certification, indicating it is one of the most stringent food safety programs in the industry.
The Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program provides food safety and quality codes designed to meet industry, customer, and regulatory requirements for all sectors of the food supply chain.
"It means a lot to us to be able to show that food safety is a top priority at Van Holten's," said Jacinda Buss, quality assurance manager for Van Holten's, noting that Van Holten's spent 18 months developing policies, implementing procedures and training employees to achieve the certification. "We have always provided safe products, but this certification is proof that we have a culture within our organization that emphasizes the importance of providing safe food to our customers."
VPR Brands a market leader in innovation and a pioneer in electronic cigarettes and vaporizers for cannabis and CBD, will serve as the exclusive vendor to design and manufacture vape batteries for JUST Brands, maker of JUST CBD.
"JUST Brands hit it out of the park with their JUST CBD brand, and the new battery and vape line will be a nice addition to fill out their offering to their distribution channels," said Kevin Frija, CEO of VPR Brands LP. "We look forward to working with the JUST Brands team and to a long continuing partnership between JUST Brands and VPR Brands."
This new vape battery line will be known as JUST Batteries and build out a comprehensive assortment of vaporizer batteries. JUST Brands, along with the VPR Brands HoneyStick development team, will introduce at least one new SKU per quarter and offer the batteries to their international distribution network. Products will start hitting the shelves during the third quarter of 2019.