Supplier Spotlights: Champs Chicken, Coca-Cola & General Mills

Coca-Cola's summer campaign

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:

Champs Chicken

Champs Chicken, flagship franchise of PDSbrands, celebrated its 20th anniversary on April 30. The first Champs Chicken location opened in 1999 at Show Me Oil Co. in Auxvasse, Mo.

"We are proud to have established our roots in Missouri and expand across the country over these past 20 years," CEO and founder Shawn Burcham said. "I remember the excitement and pressure I felt that opening day in Auxvasse, Missouri, and am so pleased with where our team has gone. We owe our success to the strong relationships we've established with our wholesale and retailer partners."

Coca-Cola Co.

Coca-Cola is launching "Enjoy Coca-Cola," its first summer campaign in six years. Fans will be able to win 150,000-plus exclusive prizes by using their phones to scan the Sip & Scan icon on cans and bottles of Coke, Coke Zero Sugar or Coke Flavors. Summer campaign packaging has a new look and features the word "Enjoy."

The campaign was inspired by the fact that summer seems to get shorter as bucket lists get longer, according to Oana Vlad, brand director, Coca-Cola Trademark.

"After talking to fans, we realized that even though summer is this amazing, anything's-possible time of year filled with adventures and new discoveries, the season can bring stress and anxiety for many people who continue to juggle life's responsibilities and pressures," she said. "We saw the opportunity to invite people to enjoy an ice-cold Coca-Cola and make their summer moments better — from road trips, to sitting at the bus stop on a sweltering day — to experiences like the ones we're offering through the campaign."

Financial Information Technologies

Financial Information Technologies LLC (Fintech), provider of business solutions to the beverage alcohol industry, made its first strategic acquisition with the purchase of alcohol industry sales platform Lilypad Solutions LLC. The deal enhances Fintech's unique technology offerings, expands its expertise and broadens its client base nationwide, the company said.

"We are pleased to add Lilypad's quality services and robust client roster to our existing portfolio, and we look forward to working with Lilypad co-founders, CEO Eric Rabinovitz and CTO Pete Ladis," commented Tad Phelps, president of Fintech. "This acquisition further validates Fintech's commitment to our clients, and will allow us to combine our industry-leading, actionable data with Lilypad's innovative sales tools to provide invaluable solutions to the supplier market. It also expands our professional network of employees, and lays the foundation for expansive growth for both companies through new product innovations and other strategic advancements."

Rabinovitz will join the Fintech executive team following the acquisition.

"Lilypad originated from a desire to solve problems for distributed sales teams. Our early adopters included many of the top brands in beverage alcohol who helped hone our product to meet the unique challenges faced by those selling in the three-tier system," Rabinovitz said. "We're extremely proud and honored to continue our journey with Fintech. Together, we will accelerate our existing platform's growth while delivering new technologies that improve the way our clients operate in a hyper-competitive market."

Ford Gum

Ford Gum entered an agreement to produce a line of sugar-free gum based on popular Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors. The line initially includes four of the most popular flavors based on consumer research: Island Punch, Watermelon, Very Cherry and Berry Blue.

"Jelly Belly is a powerhouse brand recognized around the globe for their fun and unique jelly bean flavors," said Steve Greene, senior vice president of sales and marketing. "We're thrilled to expand our product options for consumers of all ages while remaining committed to our other specialty products including Big League Chew, Carousel gumball machines, and our line of Smarties bubble gum and candy."

Packaging features the Jelly Belly logo and jelly beans with an emphasis on the gum's flavor and sugar-free quality.

General Mills

General Mills highlighted employee engagement, progress against planet commitments and food security in its 2019 Global Responsibility Report. Progress made since the previous year demonstrates its long-term commitment to protect and restore the resources upon which its business and communities depend, with an increased focus on advancing regenerative practices across its supply chain, according to the company.

"We know that food plays a central role in people's lives and has a profound impact on the environment and communities worldwide," said Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills. "Serving the world as a food company requires innovation at every level, from how we source ingredients and make our food, to how we engage with consumers, our employees and other stakeholders."

Current key focuses include improving soil health practices, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and responsible sourcing. Additionally, General Mills is taking steps toward strengthening communities and boosting employee engagement.

"The health of our business depends on the health of our planet; if she's not healthy, farmers can't grow the ingredients we need to make the food our consumers love," said Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer. "With our scale, we truly can be a force for good to drive impact and meaningful change across our entire value chain, from farm to fork and beyond."

The Hershey Co.

Reese's announced plans to make its popular Peanut Butter Eggs available past Easter by freezing them and giving them away to a number of lucky fans this summer.

From April 16 through April 19, consumers were able to visit a special link to claim their first-come, first-reserve set of 36 Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. Later this summer, they will be delivered to their door.

"We know our fans dread the end of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs season," said Jan Grinstead, Easter manager. "So, we wanted to surprise them with a chance to get their hands on our iconic Eggs long after Easter."


InComm's Alder API platform was recognized with the Most Innovative Payments Technology award from the Innovative Payments Association, a trade organization that serves as the leading voice of the electronic payments sector. InComm accepted the award during the 2019 IPA Awards presentation at the 2019 Power of Prepaid event held in Washington, D.C.

"Businesses that manage a prepaid card program have historically had to navigate between several program interfaces to access products provided by different networks, which requires significant time and resources," said Dave Etling, senior vice president and general manager of InComm Digital Solutions. "Our Alder API empowers organizations with access to every aspect of prepaid card fulfillment from a single online connection. This significantly mitigates the cost of managing supplier relationships. We thank the Innovative Payments Association for recognizing our team's hard work in developing the platform."

Alder API consolidated all prepaid transactions to a single connection, providing organizations with the freedom to focus on the front-end experience of their prepaid programs while InComm powers the back-end delivery and management of their products.