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06/04/2021

Supplier Spotlights: General Mills, Hunt Brothers Pizza & Mondelēz International

Dover Fueling Solutions, LSI Industries, Jelly Belly and others also announce promotions and acquisitions.
HBP Flowcode

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:

DEL MONTE FRESH PRODUCE

Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. expanded its organic fresh-cut fruit production in the United States and Canada. This will allow the company to continue growing its fresh-cut fruit and organic fresh-cut fruit businesses nationally, while diversifying its variety of produce SKUs.

The expansion will also allow for added retail convenience as fruit will be cut to order prior to distribution. As fruits cannot be cut in-store, this process eliminates a hassle for retail stores and will help to continue to incrementally grow sales. Produce is cut to order at each facility for direct, next-day deliveries and pickups.

"We are excited to now be expanding and processing organic fresh-cut fruit," said Kirk Teske, vice president, product management and sales, fresh-cut N.A. "Our team is always working to find new and innovative solutions to meet the needs of our consumers, and we are excited to offer our customers greater freshness and efficiencies in the organic fresh-cut fruit category. We're committed to providing our customers with new and existing products that fit their various lifestyles and look forward to getting the freshest produce in their hands."

DOVER FUELING SOLUTIONS

Dover Fueling Solutions (DFS) completed its acquisition of AvaLAN Wireless Systems Inc., provider of wireless and wired Ethernet solutions as well as managed routers, software-as-a-service and cloud-based services.

AvaLAN focuses on solving data connectivity challenges by securely connecting difficult-to-reach network edge devices. Its solutions solve customers' data connectivity challenges at the network's edge for large retail, enterprise and government customers, and supplies secure, managed, PCI-compliant and easy-to-configure wireless Ethernet solutions, the company said.

The acquisition positions DFS to capitalize on long-term digitization trends in the fuel retail industry, as its offerings enable more parts of the retail site to be connected, while managed separately, and increase the connection bandwidth allowing for faster data transmission and enhanced functionality of site devices, it added.

"Through this acquisition, we are excited to add industry-leading network and infrastructure solutions to our portfolio, especially as secure data transfer and communication becomes a centerpiece in our end-to-end portfolio of forecourt solutions," said DFS President David Crouse. "We estimate 90 percent of all gas stations in the U.S. will need to invest in communication and network infrastructure in the near future. Offering security software and corresponding hardware adapted for the fuel retail market builds on our record of innovation and product leadership to create a comprehensive suite of forecourt solutions as we further advance our long-term strategy of growing the digitally-enabled value streams in our retail fueling business."

GENERAL MILLS

General Mills renewed its five-year, $2.7 billion revolving credit facility, which now includes a pricing structure that is tied to environmental impact metrics. It is the first U.S. consumer packaged goods company to put in place a sustainability-linked revolving credit facility.

By entering into the revolving credit facility, General Mills receives a pricing adjustment based on its performance against environmental criteria during the credit facility's term. The company will be measured on progress in two key areas:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in owned operations
  • Using renewable electricity for global operations

Sustainability performance will be measured and communicated in General Mills' annual Global Responsibility Report.

"For General Mills, regenerating the earth's natural resources is both a business and environmental imperative," said Chief Financial Officer Kofi Bruce. "Integrating General Mills' environmental impact metrics into this financing structure underscores our commitment to drive resilience for the planet, its resources and its people."

HUNT BROTHERS PIZZA

Hunt Brothers Pizza partnered with Flowcode, an offline-to-online company building connections for brands and consumers, and Stewart-Haas Racing, the championship-winning NASCAR team, to create the world's largest and sports' fastest QR code on a racecar, specifically the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang.

"Our longtime racing sponsorship gives Hunt Brothers Pizza the opportunity to give our valued c-store partners national brand recognition and exposure to their offerings in a way that only a nationally branded pizza program can do," said Dee Cleveland, director of marketing for Hunt Brothers. "We're looking forward to seeing this partnership come to life for fans across the country in the Richmond race."

The car's hood features a custom-branded, ultra-fast scanning, 27.5-inch Hunt Brothers Pizza Flowcode. It is a scan-to-win experience that gives viewers at home and at the track instant, direct access to win prizes. The grand prize is two tickets to a NASCAR Cup Series race in the 2021 or 2022 season. Twelve other winners will receive a fan pack loaded with Hunt Brothers Pizza and Harvick merchandise.

IRI

IRI is using a 1.5-million-member receipt panel obtained through its recent acquisition of CoinOut to build the most complete and accurate omnichannel offerings in market: IRI OmniMarket and IRI OmniConsumer.

Integrating receipt panel data from CoinOut — which provides coverage of all critical channels in the omnichannel universe, including beauty, pet, convenience, home improvement and on-premise — offers unparalleled insights that allow clients to truly understand the "why" behind consumer purchases, according to the company.

OmniMarket, which is currently available to IRI clients, combines in-store and e-commerce point-of-sale (POS) data with panel data, including data from IRI's E-Market Insights solution, to provide a comprehensive view of sales across all channels reported by point-of-sale (POS) data, which represents the most precise data "truth set" in the industry, the company said. OmniConsumer integrates three unique panel datasets into a single platform to longitudinally track consumer purchase behavior across all brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels.

The OmniConsumer solution will be available for beta testing later this year and will be made fully available to all IRI clients by the end of 2021.

"IRI is the only provider to merge more granular POS assets that represent actual buying behavior from virtually every household in the country with panels that can help fill in for areas where POS data is hard to collect," said Jeremy Allen, president of market shopper intelligence at IRI. "Whereas other players in the industry base their insights off a single panel of only a few hundred thousand people, IRI has a 1.5-million-member receipt panel and is committed to providing a more accurate, more representative and more granular set of insights. With our recent acquisition of CoinOut, we are better positioned to help our clients win."

JELLY BELLY CANDY CO.

Jelly Belly celebrated National Jelly Bean Day on April 22 by hosting a sweepstakes to win a guest appearance from Mr. Jelly Belly on a virtual meeting (with up to 10 participants) and a year's supply of Jelly Belly jelly beans for one lucky office.

"The spirit of National Jelly Bean Day is to have fun and enjoy some jelly beans  especially if they are Jelly Belly jelly beans. With many of us suffering from Zoom fatigue, we think everyone could use some more of each right now," said Rob Swaigen, vice president of global marketing at Jelly Belly.

The sweepstakes was part of Jelly Belly's effort to help companies relieve "Zoom fatigue" and let co-workers share a smile and a treat virtually.

"In full disclosure, Mr. Jelly Belly is a bit shy, so don't expect him to talk, present a PowerPoint or take notes on this meeting," Swaigen said. "Nonetheless, we're pretty confident the winner will be the office MVP for inviting the most unique Zoom guest ever — and scoring all this amazing candy!"

KELLOGG CO.

Kellogg Co. teamed up with 7-Eleven Inc. to unveil the World's Largest Box of Toaster Pastries filled with Pop-Tarts in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven Store Support Center in Dallas, setting a new Guinness World Record. The 1,331-pound box was filled with individual packages of toaster pastries to be donated directly to the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) Feeding Network, a member of Feeding America.

The company also supported a 7-Eleven Feeding America campaign by donating 10 cents for every participating cereal or snack purchased at 7-Eleven stores between April 14-20. As a result of the promotion, Kellogg presented a $10,000 check to help provide critical nourishment to the North Texas communities that were impacted by February's severe winter storm and those continuing to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, the equivalent of more than 34,000 meals were donated to NTFB.

"We know that families in Texas and across the country have endured tremendous challenges throughout the last year," said Stephanie Slingerland, senior director of philanthropy and global impact, Kellogg Co. "We thank 7-Eleven for their partnership and continued commitment to fighting hunger."

LSI INDUSTRIES INC.

LSI Industries, a U.S.-based manufacturer of commercial lighting and graphics solutions, acquired JSI Store Fixtures from RFE Investment Partners for a cash purchase price of $90 million.

JSI provides retail commercial display solutions throughout North America. For more than 30 years, it has serviced major supermarket, convenience and specialty store chains with branded display solutions focused on enhancing the customer experience and driving store revenue.

"JSI is an established market leader within the retail display solutions industry, one whose history of growth and innovation, attractive margin profile and loyal customer following within the supermarket, convenience and specialty store verticals are highly complementary to LSI's existing portfolio of lighting and graphics solutions," said James A. Clark, president and CEO of LSI Industries.

The acquisition is expected to significantly increase LSI's total total addressable markets within the grocery and convenience store verticals, while driving meaningful revenue synergies across its combined product portfolio, consistent with its long-term strategic focus, according to the company. At a commercial level, the combination of LSI's graphics signage and JSI's display fixtures businesses, together with LSI's portfolio of lighting and program management solutions, will provide a compelling, one-stop value proposition for both new and existing customers

"Just as the combination of our lighting and graphics businesses led to the creation of a commercially successful, complementary product offering, the addition of JSI follows a similar template, one that positions us to further diversify our revenue and customer mix within higher-margin product markets," Clark added. "Pro-forma for the transaction, we remain on track to achieve $500 million in annual sales and $50 million in annual adjusted EBITDA by year-end fiscal 2025."

"We are excited to join the LSI family," said Terry Awalt, CEO of JSI. "Our shared commitment to product innovation, customer-centric relationships, performance excellence and profitable growth position LSI as an ideal partner to scale the JSI brand in the years ahead. Our established presence within the supermarket vertical, when combined with LSI's leading position within the c-store vertical, create a compelling opportunity that we believe will result in significant, long-term revenue synergies for the combined businesses."

MONDELĒZ INTERNATIONAL

Mondelēz International Inc. selected security awareness training specialist AwareGO to educate employees globally on cybersecurity for the next three years. AwareGO's innovative and bite-sized training modules and delivery will increase cybersecurity awareness within Mondelēz International through its newly developed best-in-class training platform, the company said.

This will help create an inclusive security culture within Mondelēz International and minimize cybersecurity risks in general, the company said.

"We chose AwareGO because it helps us to connect with our colleagues better and make the security awareness moments memorable for them," said Nikolay Betov, information security governance and awareness lead at Mondelēz International. "AwareGO is very people-oriented and manages to get the most important out of a topic and make it relevant for person's daily life. Our colleagues love it, and we start to see that our messages are more impactful."

Just like Mondelēz International delivers popular bite-sized snacks to satisfy people's hunger, AwareGO's method is to deliver bite-sized training modules automatically to employees instead of having them sit through long seminars where retention of knowledge is minimal, according to the company. The state-of-the-art learning management system from AwareGO makes training easy and automatic and offers metrics and values where admins can either pick ready-made programs or customize their own to fit their employee's needs.

"We are truly honored that Mondelēz International selected us for this important task," said AwareGO CEO Ragnar Sigurdsson. "AwareGO's vision has always been to make the world a more cyber secure place and to address the human factor when it comes to cybersecurity risks. We do that by helping companies train their employees in a more entertaining and effective way, trying to influence their behavior with a positive message rather than simply lecturing "don't do this" or "you can't do that." Our training materials explain best practices and encourage and empower people to do their best for cybersecurity within their workplace."

SWISHER

Swisher expanded its partnership with E-Alternative Solutions (EAS) to support the marketing, sales and distribution of EAS's Leap and Leap Go vapor brands. Both companies will remain separate entities with EAS benefitting from the additional support and strength of Swisher's world-class sales and marketing organization.

Jeffrey Brown, formerly vice president of sales for EAS, has been named general manager of EAS and will take the lead in the evolution of the partnership.

"Jeff is a well-respected leader with more than three decades of industry experience, and as General Manager, he is the natural choice to take the EAS business to the next level and drive our respective brand expansion goals," said John Miller, president and CEO of Swisher. "In the short term, the expanded partnership between EAS and Swisher will remain transparent to our valued customer base, and we will be following up with additional details as they become available."

THE WONDERFUL CO.

Wonderful Pistachios launched a dedicated new campaign to bring its Wonderful Pistachios No Shells BBQ and Sea Salt & Vinegar flavors to life. The highly tailored digital and social campaign is designed to reach consumers who love great flavors, no matter their preferred online platform.

Launched in May and running through the summer in the United States and Canada, the campaign features creative optimized for different mediums to authentically reach specific consumers. Platforms include Twitch, where the company will introduce the new No Shells flavors as a healthy and delicious snack for gaming.

Additionally, TikTok and Snapchat executions, including ads and custom augmented reality Lenses, will drive flavor-specific messaging to generate engagement with consumers of a younger demographic, and the campaign's Instagram and Facebook creative will ensure a broad audience is also excited to try the new flavors. The launch is also supported by public relations and a national free standing insert dropping the week before Memorial Day.

Wonderful Pistachios will continue to promote its plant protein content by leveraging Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who follows a plant-forward diet and is the brand's celebrity spokesperson for its recent "The Next Big Thing" campaign. As barbecue and sea salt and vinegar flavors are usually only found in unhealthy snacks, Gonzalez will post on his social platforms unique content to celebrate the new Wonderful Pistachios flavors as a tasty tribute to healthy snacking done right.

"These are delicious flavors everyone is going to love, which is why we're targeting a variety of different categories of consumers and occasions, including esports, which we know is a broad and diverse group that also has a growing interest in healthy snacks," said Adam Cooper, senior vice president of marketing, The Wonderful Co. "Our new Wonderful Pistachios No Shells BBQ and Sea Salt & Vinegar flavors are also a good source of plant protein with six grams per serving."