Supplier Spotlights: Dawn Foods, Ferrero USA & R.J. Reynolds

Ferrero USA Inc. opened a new distribution center in McDonough, Ga.
Ferrero USA Inc. opened a new distribution center in McDonough, Ga.

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:

Dawn Foods

On June 5, National Donut Day, Dawn Foods announced the 10 recipients of its total $50,000 charitable donation as part of its #DonutsForGoodEntry promotion, which highlights the positive impact Dawn customers continually make in their local communities

"Now more than ever, it's imperative we continue to support our local bakeries as a way to recognize all the good they do within their communities," said Carrie Jones-Barber, CEO of Dawn Foods. "The #DonutsForGoodEntry winners are a reflection of the countless good deeds bakers perform day in and day out around the world. As we celebrate our 100th anniversary this year, we recognize that Dawn's success is made possible by the creative work of our customers who continue to do good in their communities."

#DonutsForGoodEntry winners were drawn at random from baker applications throughout the United States received online and through social media. Each winner received $5,000 to donate to the 501(c)(3) charitable organization of their choice. Promotion winners were:

  • Cookie Cupboard Gourmet Dough, Valley View, Ohio | The Metanoia Project
  • Dimare Pastry Shop LLC, Stamford, Conn. | Make-A-Wish
  • Famous Donuts, Fort Worth, Texas | St. Jude's Children's Hospital
  • Gibson Donuts, Memphis, Tenn. | The Salvation Army
  • Merritts Bakery, Tulsa, Okla. | Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma
  • Miss Angels Heavenly Pies, Mount Airy, N.C. | The Congregation of Trinity Episcopal Church
  • Mojo Donuts & Fried Chicken, Miami | The Live Like Bella Childhood Cancer Foundation
  • Pasticcini Bakery, Weymouth, Mass. | Cardinal Cushing Center
  • Smallcakes Baltimore, Annapolis, Md. | Jayde M Schools Inc.
  • Tortillería Sonora, Des Moines, Iowa | Iowa Farm Sanctuary

Dawn's #DonutsForGoodEntry promotion is part of its "Thank You to Bakers" program, which kicked off in January in tandem with the company's 100th anniversary celebration. "Thank You to Bakers" aimed to raise awareness of the hard work the baking community puts in each day and thank bakers across the globe for their dedication.

Ferrero USA Inc.

Ferrero USA Inc., part of the global confectionery company Ferrero Group, opened a new distribution center in McDonough, Ga. The 728,000-square-foot facility is located at 875 Highway 42 South and is projected to begin operations by early September. Ferrero expects it to add 250 local jobs.

"Ferrero is committed to continue growing in the U.S.," said Paul Chibe, president and CEO, Ferrero North America. "The McDonough distribution center will help us bring our products to more people in the market, and will bring great employment opportunities to the people of Henry County at a crucial time."

In recent months, Ferrero also expanded its North American headquarters in New Jersey and opened two new distribution centers in Pennsylvania and Arizona, as well as assumed management of two manufacturing plants in Bloomington and Franklin Park, Ill.

The McDonough facility adds capacity for Ferrero to distribute its growing portfolio of brands, including Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, and Crunch, throughout North America. Over time, the facility will distribute other Ferrero brands, including Ferrero Rocher, Nutella, Tic Tac and Kinder, to support overall company growth.

"This represents another important milestone in the expansion of our logistics capabilities in the market," said Luca Robbiano, vice president, North America supply chain for Ferrero. "Our new distribution centers in Pennsylvania, Arizona and now Georgia are crucial for driving both strong organic and acquisition-driven growth."

Fujitsu America Inc.

Fujitsu America Inc. (FAI), in collaboration with Fujitsu Frontech North America (FFNA), is evolving its retail solutions organization in North America in an effort to accelerate the value delivered to retail customers looking to modernize and automate their business, the company said. Effective June 1, FAI moved control of its retail hardware, software, assets and capabilities to other Fujitsu Group companies, including Fujitsu Frontech North America Inc. which specializes in retail store solution delivery.

FFNA has taken over the comprehensive retail self-service business across the United States, Canada, and global markets to drive digital transformation in retail store automation.

Following the strategic reorganization, FAI will focus exclusively on a broader set of high-demand enterprise optimization and integrated commerce solutions.

"While the store is still the dominate channel for engagement, new channels are constantly disrupting the industry," said Paul Kennedy, head of retail industry, Fujitsu America. "Our retail clients require a partner that can help them capture more customers and create new business models across converged digital markets. Fujitsu has the foundational capabilities, technology and industry knowledge to help retailers in North America discover previously untapped value and a vision for the future of consumer engagement."


GasBuddy commemorated its 21st anniversary by recognizing that it gives drivers 27 different ways to save on fuel and announcing the "27 WAYS TO SAVE" game.

"It's true. I counted," said Chief Marketing Officer Michael DiLorenzo.

GasBuddy launched in June 1999 as a crowdsourced website for drivers to enter gas prices they spot around town. At the time, it offered just three primary ways to save on fuel.

"For more than 20 years, GasBuddy had a focused mission to help drivers save money on gasoline. We researched, tested, and created features and partnerships with this objective in mind," DiLorenzo said. "Pennies make dollars, and for millions of North Americans, there's never been a more important time than right now."

To play the new game, consumers can get the GasBuddy SAVE bingo board by visiting the "27 Ways to Save" website; cross out any five game squares on the board that they have completed (using the honor system); and submit a photo of their winning SAVE board on the game website by June 30 for a chance to win $100 in free gas. There will be 27 winners in total.

The Hershey Co.

Hershey is expanding its Cocoa For Good program by committing to 100-percent direct-sourced cocoa in high-risk areas by 2025. This will include all of its cocoa sourced by its suppliers from Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. The expanded commitment will make Hershey's cocoa from these countries traceable from the farm to the first point of purchase, giving the company a clear line of sight into where all of its cocoa from West Africa is grown and how it is produced, providing more transparency for consumers and all stakeholders.

Hershey launched Cocoa For Good in April 2018, furthering its cocoa efforts by investing $500 million by 2030 to nourish children, empower youth, build prosperous communities and preserve natural ecosystems.

"By purchasing all our cocoa as certified and sustainable, we directly support higher incomes for farmers and improve labor and environmental standards," said Jeff King, senior director of global sustainability and social impact. "We recognize, however, that certification is not enough. Transitioning to 100-percent direct cocoa sourcing for these high-risk areas gives us more transparency into our cocoa supply chain and enables us to provide more support to farmers and scale-up programs such as Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation to 100 percent of our Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana-sourced cocoa by 2025 to help end child labor."

The expanded Cocoa For Good program doubles down on its four key areas of nourishing children, empowering youth, prospering communities and preserving ecosystems.

 "We are committed to making these important changes, and while we know it will take time, we are confident that together with our communities, suppliers, governments and industry partners we can make a positive difference to reassure consumers who love our products and look to us for moments of goodness in their lives," said Hershey's Chris Abbott, senior director of Cocoa Strategic Sourcing.

Kellogg Co.

Cheez-It, the official snack of bowl season, is moving east to become the title sponsor of the Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. This move kicks off a multi-year agreement between the snack brand and Florida Citrus Sports (FCS).

Formerly known as the Camping World Bowl, the game will continue to feature top teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference or Notre Dame and the Big 12 Conference in late December each year.

"Cheez-It is a go-to snacking tradition for football fans and cheese-lovers — especially those who can't get enough of that uniquely cheesy and crunchy experience," said Jeff Delonis, senior director of marketing for Cheez-It. "Our preceding bowl game sponsorship with the Fiesta Bowl Organization helped solidify Cheez-It as a staple in the college football postseason. Now we're excited to turn to the next page and build our bowl-season tradition further through our new partnership with Florida Citrus Sports and the world-class destination of Orlando."

The fully integrated partnership includes exclusive naming rights; digital and social media content; in-stadium exposure; product sampling; on-site activation at the game; and other FCS organization events, as well as a redesigned Cheez-It Bowl logo.


PriceAdvantage launched a new integration with GasBuddy Business Pages that provides customers more frequency and accuracy when communicating new prices to GasBuddy.

The new integration ensures that consumers view the most recent and accurate fuel prices on GasBuddy by communicating a retailer's current fuel prices as often as every 15 minutes. It puts public-facing prices in the control of the retailer, rather than have them solely rely on crowdsourced prices.

"This integration gives fuel retailers greater control over when and which commodities they update on the GasBuddy app," said John Keller, division director of PriceAdvantage. "It provides retailers 100-percent accuracy between what consumers see at the pump and what they view on the internet."

The integration is an enhancement feature of PriceAdvantage Version 2020.1.

"GasBuddy has the largest addressable audience of fuel and convenience store shoppers before they embark on their trip, so it's essential that your fuel prices are accurate," said Jordan Grossman, executive vice president of advertising sales at GasBuddy. "Our fuel and c-store partners will now have the power to confidently implement price changes to our platform, ensuring their prices are getting in front of drivers quickly."

Spangler Candy Co.

Necco Wafers, The Original Candy Wafer, is returning to store shelves two years after Spangler Candy Co. purchased the brand out of bankruptcy. Created in 1847, Necco Wafers is one of the oldest candy brands in existence.

"Just when comfort food is experiencing a resurgence, Necco Wafers is back with that very kind of familiar, comfortable feeling we all seem to be craving," said Kirk Vashaw, CEO of Spangler Candy. "We are delighted to bring Necco Wafers back into production and to share in their sweet return with fans old and new."

The Necco Wafers' comeback collection features eight all-time favorite flavors and colors lemon (yellow), lime (green), orange (orange), clove (light purple), cinnamon (white), wintergreen (pink), licorice (dark grey) and chocolate (brown). Seven of the eight flavors were designed to identically match the originals. True Necco Wafers connoisseurs may detect a richer cocoa flavor in the chocolate wafers due to a minor improvement made in the cooking process, according to the company.

"We know fans have been waiting anxiously for the return of Necco Wafers and anticipate high demand. Our production lines will continue to run as fast as possible to keep stores in-stock," Vashaw said.

Standard Cognition

Autonomous checkout solution provider Standard Cognition acquired Milan, Italy-based Checkout Technologies, which has developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology for frictionless checkout.

The acquisition significantly increases the size of Standard's engineering team and seeds its European presence, the company said.

"With this acquisition, Standard gains solid technology and more than a dozen top-shelf AI and machine learning engineers, and gets us an immediate ground presence in Europe," said Jordan Fisher, co-founder and CEO of Standard. "More engineering power means we can accelerate our roadmap and bring new innovations to our clients faster."

Fisher also noted that Milan is an emerging center for machine learning and AI research and development.

"Standard has emerged as the clear leader in autonomous checkout, and we are thrilled to now be part of this team," said Enrico Pandian, founder and CEO of Checkout Technologies and founder of Italy's Supermercato24. "Checkout and Standard were both working on the same retail issues and we found that we had a lot in common. Together, we can make significant inroads in the global retail market."

The Vollrath Co.

Vollrath is launching a free consulting service for operators in every area of the foodservice and hospitality industry to assist them as they reopen their businesses following temporary closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Now more than ever, the world of foodservice is rapidly changing," said Dennis Park, vice president of Vollrath foodservice sales. "And as a company that has been in business for over 148 years, Vollrath stands ready to help foodservice operators navigate these uncharted waters. Whether they need to keep their customers and employees safe or ensure their operation is getting maximum profit out of each serving, we have the expertise and resources to see them through."

Operators can initiate the free consultation by completing an online form to provide background on their operation and an opportunity to explain concerns. A Vollrath foodservice professional will then reach out to provide guidance and recommendations on front-of-house and/or back-of-house operation. Examples of concerns include cleaning and sanitation stations; social distancing; food barriers; mobile food stations; and food delivery and transport options.

R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co.

R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. brand Vuse sent best wishes to Arrow McLaren SP (AMSP) for the first official race of the 2020 INDYCAR season in Fort Worth, Texas. In June, AMSP took to the track for the first time in 2020 after delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the Genesys 300 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

"We're excited to watch AMSP get back on the track this weekend," said Leila Medeiros, U.S. head of Vuse. "We appreciate and support all efforts that have been made by INDYCAR and local authorities to protect the safety of racing teams and fans."

During the period of delay, AMSP participated in multiple virtual races that allowed drivers to run tests with engineers and strategists in advance of the Genesys 300 race. In partnership with AMSP, Vuse engaged with its audience through digital activations and its age-restricted social media channels. Vuse supported AMSP through posts on Vuse's social media channels that included alerts to adult nicotine consumers of when iRacing events were happening, reminders to watch, a video of Taylor Kiel, managing director, competition at AMSP, and interactive polls to engage adult nicotine consumers to see if they would be tuning in.

"We continue to responsibly communicate with adult nicotine consumers through social media, as digital channels play an important role during this challenging time," Medeiros said. "While AMSP is fueled by passion for racing and delivering a thrilling experience for their fans, Vuse is driven by inspiration in vapor and bringing quality products to adult nicotine consumers."

The Vuse brand promotion is part of a broader enhanced partnership deal between British American Tobacco (BAT), RJRVC's parent group, and McLaren, following a successful first year of global partnership with the McLaren Racing Formula 1 team, of which BAT is a principal partner.