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01/06/2022

Supplier Spotlights: The Coca-Cola Co., Just Born, Old Trapper & Welbilt

Acumera, PepsiCo, The Hershey Co. and others also announce new partnerships, acquisitions and special initiatives.
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Just Born PEEPSFEST

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:

ACUMERA

Acumera, a managed security services provider to retailers and restaurants, partnered with Fueland to improve the transmission and approval of loyalty program transactions. The Fueland Loyalty app runs on the Acumera Edge Computing Device, which securely and reliably connects point-of-sale systems to the Fueland Loyalty gateway.

"We approached Acumera knowing they could make a huge difference for our customers with their AcuVigil dashboard," said Steve Alexander, president of Fueland.

Customers can now view recent transaction history without additional network configuration or gateway hardware.

"Acumera is excited to add Fueland Loyalty to our suite of cloud-based edge computing workloads," said Dan Gleeson, vice president of sales at Acumera. "We are able to process loyalty transactions in a secure, PCI-compliant manner to help customers in managing their business."

THE COCA-COLA CO.

The Coca-Cola Co. acquired full ownership of BODYARMOR, a line of sports performance and hydration beverages, for $5.6 billion in early November. BODYARMOR is incremental to Coca-Cola's beverage portfolio and has significant potential for long-term growth, the company said.

In 2018, Coca-Cola acquired an initial 15 percent stake in BODYARMOR with a path to full ownership, based on a pre-determined discount.

BODYARMOR will be managed as a separate business within Coca-Cola's North America operating unit and will continue to be based in New York. Its executive leadership team, including co-founder and Chairman Mike Repole and President Brent Hastie, has agreed to continue to work to maintain the brand's successful momentum in the market under a separate consulting and transition-services agreement.

The beverage brand will continue to be distributed by the U.S. Coca-Cola bottling system.

"BODYARMOR has been a great addition to the system lineup over the last three years, and the company has driven continuous innovation in hydration and health-and-wellness products," said Alfredo Rivera, president of the North America operating unit of The Coca-Cola Company. "We're excited to bring BODYARMOR into The Coca-Cola Company and work with Mike Repole and his leadership team on the next stage of growth."

As part of the agreement, Coca-Cola and Repole will also collaborate on the company's still beverages portfolio, including marketing, packaging and innovation strategies across multiple brands.

"Ten years ago, we set out with a vision to create a better-for-you sports drink with a goal of becoming the #1 global sports drink," Repole said. "Our talented leadership team under Brent Hastie, our 400 dedicated employees and incredible Coca-Cola bottling partners have helped us build this remarkable brand. If it wasn't for Kobe Bryant's vision and belief, BODYARMOR would not have been able to achieve the success we had. I couldn't be more excited to become part of the Coca-Cola family and set our sights on the future."

THE HERSHEY CO.

The Hershey Co. completed its acquisition of Dot's Pretzels, owner of Dot's Homestyle Pretzels, and Pretzels Inc., on Dec. 14. The combined purchase price was $1.2 billion, or approximately $1 billion of investment net of expected future tax benefits.

The deal accelerates Hershey's vision for the snack category by adding the fastest-growing scale U.S. pretzel brand, representing 55 percent of the pretzel category's growth during the past year, to its portfolio.

Hershey plans to take a phased approach to integrate the business in partnership with Dot's and Pretzels Inc.'s leadership teams.

IRI

IRI is collaborating with the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) to give members access to near real-time customized market data. Utilizing IRI's Unify data visualization platform, PLMA members and retailers can access store brand category, aisle and department performance across multiple time periods, measures and product selection.

Refreshed monthly, the sales data cover numerous channels across 317 categories and 967 subcategories.

"Our partnership with IRI enables PLMA members and retailers to get customized sales data quickly and securely," said PLMA President Peggy Davies. "We're excited to offer this as another value-added benefit to help PLMA members drive sustainable profitable growth."

The complimentary service is available to members and retailers at plma.com.

JUST BORN

The city of Bethlehem, Pa., rang in 2022 with the 13th annual PEEPSFEST event hosted by Just Born. During PEEPSFEST, a nine-foot, 400-pound illuminated PEEPS chick dropped to welcome the new year on Dec. 31 at 5:15 p.m.

The family-focused festival also featured live music and entertainment, a PEEPSONALITY family fun run/walk, PEEPS sampling stations, dioramas and more. Attendees 12 years old and under also received a special PEEPS gift bag.

NATIONAL CARWASH SOLUTIONS

National Carwash Solutions (NCS) formed a strategic partnership with Mondo Products Co. Together, they will operate the largest direct car wash installation and service company in North America, powered by NCS, according to the companies.

"We are delighted to partner with Mondo, a leading manufacturer of cleaning solutions and the largest distributor of car wash systems and services in Canada. I expect great outcomes for our customers as we incorporate the Mondo line into our best-in-class cleaning fluids offering under the leadership of Dave Wingert, the President of our NCS Cleaning Fluids Division," said Michael Gillen, CEO of NCS. "Mondo is the preeminent supplier of car wash products across Canada and has an impressive story and sterling reputation.

"Under the leadership of Robert Devlin, Mondo has developed a formidable market position and a blue-chip customer base. We are thrilled to welcome Robert Devlin, Jan van Kessel and the entire Mondo team to the NCS family, and to expand our footprint in Canada," he added.

Founded in 1970, Mondo manufactures and distributes a complete line of concentrated cleaning fluids for the car wash industry and is the largest car wash cleaning fluids, service and equipment supplier in Canada. It also offers a cloud-based chemical management system that allows customers to manage chemical use for their car wash network directly from a desktop or mobile device.

"I am extremely excited that Mondo Products has joined the NCS Family. This new strategic partnership will allow Mondo to continue to meet the expectations and requirements of our incredible customers and partners across North America," said Mondo President Robert Devlin.

OLD TRAPPER SMOKED PRODUCTS

Old Trapper will serve as the official beef jerky of the Big Ten Conference. The new partnership includes the Big Ten football, men's and women's basketball, and hockey seasons.

Throughout the 2021-22 season, Old Trapper will be highlighted in both Big Ten television broadcasts and streaming programming. The brand will also be featured in 30-second spots across the Big Ten Network's linear and digital platforms and included on conference signage at the Big Ten Football Championship Game presented by Discover; Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Tournament; and the Big Ten Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments. The beef snacks brand also receives rights to use Big Ten Conference logos throughout the season.

"We are excited to be partnering with the Big Ten Conference in this new sponsorship. Big Ten fans know that meat snacks pair perfectly with their traditions in football, basketball and hockey," said Robert Leary, director of marketing at Old Trapper. "In considering expanding our sponsorships this year, it was an easy choice to partner with the Big Ten when we think about how committed the fans are to not only the teams, but to Old Trapper at the stores too."

PEPSICO

Cheetos partnered with global lifestyle brand Rock the Bells to present a one-of-a-kind, hip-hop-inspired art exhibit during Art Basel international art fair in Miami Beach. "Yacht The Basel: The Art of the Cheetle" featured eight original art pieces created from Cheetos' iconic orange dust, also known as Cheetle, curated by renowned artist Lefty Out There.

"Creativity and expression have always been central to the hip-hop movement, which is why we are thrilled to team up with Cheetos, a brand that is all about celebrating self-expression in all its forms," said James Cuthbert, president of Rock The Bells. "We're also excited to have Lefty Out There on board for this special event and can't wait to see his bold and dynamic style brought to life in an entirely new way."

The exclusive event took place Dec. 4 on the SeaFair, a 220-foot, four-story megayacht docked at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. Fans were able to view the full exhibit and enjoy live DJ sets from Just Blaze, DJ Millie, DJ Stevo, C-Stylez and others. After sunset, the SeaFair set sail for an invite-only experience around the Miami harbor, complete with luxury Cheetos-inspired cuisine, cocktails, and a live performance from Kaash Paige.

"Over the years, fans have used Cheetos as inspiration for so many different things — from fashion to beauty to culinary and more," said Jessica Spaulding, senior director of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. "Now, we're excited to see how Cheetle — the orange dust that our fans wear proudly on their fingertips — is brought to life at Art Basel through the incredibly talented Lefty Out There's artwork."

READY TRAINING ONLINE

Ready Training Online (RTO) and Executive Stream Solutions (ESS) are partnering to offer more flexible production options for operators and suppliers in the convenience store and restaurant industries. ESS' ROAD Case "video studio in a box" technology, as well as Bring Your Own Content (BYOC) and LAUNCH will be featured on the trainingGrid LMS platform.

"This is transformational," said RTO President Jeff Kahler. "I founded RTO in 2005 to solve training and retention challenges for my own successful pizza chain. TrainingGrid LMS' streamlined delivery system has evolved to meet training administrators' and employees' growing needs for a comprehensive online training solution. Using the ESS ROAD Case to create affordable, customized content will enhance the use of our trainingGrid platform. Using the ROAD Case, our customers will be able to supplement and grow their custom content libraries and leapfrog basic production methods by five years."

RTO currently partners with NACS, the New York Association of Convenience Stores, Florida Petroleum Marketers Association and Cenex to provide its e-learning platform.

"ESS has an extremely compelling story to complement RTO's more traditional path to success," added ESS Partner and Managing Director John Flood. "When COVID-19 forced the live event industry to completely shut down in 2020, a group of expert live concert and performance technicians pivoted to form ESS, providing high-quality, turnkey solutions for anybody using virtual or online platforms for business and personal use. MyVideo ROAD Case addresses many pain points by enabling businesses to capture high quality video and photos for training, corporate communications and product demos more efficiently in almost any location. Our alliance with RTO is a perfect fit."

WELBILT Inc.

Welbilt will integrate Microsoft Azure Sphere to upgrade security in its KitchenConnect internet-connected equipment and will host the solution on Microsoft Azure through a new partnership with HCL Technologies.

The integration of Azure Sphere in the KitchenConnect solution will add new security capabilities to keep connected equipment protected over time and to provide secured communication between devices and the KitchenConnect platform. The KitchenConnect solution improves efficiency, reduces cost, and enhances food quality by helping customers leverage telemetry to optimize their kitchen operations, the company said.

"At Welbilt, we are accelerating innovation through our partners and leading the digital space in the foodservice industry to continuously offer the best solution for our customers," said Welbilt President and CEO Bill Johnson.

HCL will develop and enhance the KitchenConnect security solution with Azure Sphere and provide an advanced architecture for improved scalability, security, and functionality on the Microsoft Azure IoT platform.

"We are excited by all the opportunities presented by Microsoft and HCL, taking our KitchenConnect security and cloud solution to a new level with Microsoft Azure IoT and Azure Sphere," said Omar Jacques Omran, senior director for KitchenConnect. "This step will also make it simpler for operators to connect their entire equipment fleet in the restaurant."