Supplier Spotlights: Krispy Krunchy Chicken, Mars Chocolate & Paytronix

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Supplier Spotlights: Krispy Krunchy Chicken, Mars Chocolate & Paytronix

Halfpipe skier Torin Yater-Wallace

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:

AMD Industries

AMD has acquired Forecourt Express through a merger with Samaritan Display Group (SDG) that will better position the company to grow and serve customers, the company announced.

Forecourt Express is a leader in outdoor display merchandisers for convenience stores that make shopping for frequently purchased bulk items easy. Its outdoor display units are designed to hold everyday merchandise such as cases of water, firewood, windshield wiper fluid and more.

"I am excited to be a part of the AMD team and look forward to expanding the distribution of the Forecourt Express product line," said Gregg Pospisil, founder and owner of SDG. "AMD has a long history in this industry and is able to provide expert design, engineering and fabricating under one roof to better serve our customers."

 AMD's in-house turnkey operations will provide a broader and deeper level of resources to support SDG's client base. The integration of SDG into AMD will allow for the two combined entities to operate as one under the AMD name.

The Hershey Co.

The Reese's brand extended its title sponsorship of the Reese's Senior Bowl, which began in 2014. Played annually in Mobile, Ala., in January, the bowl is college football's premier senior showcase, highlighting the nation's best junior graduates and senior football stars and top draft prospects on teams coached by pro coaching staffs.

"We are very proud to have the Reese's brand continue as the title sponsor of our game," said Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage. "We believe this partnership will continue to help us build on the equity of the Senior Bowl and impact the community for years to come."

In 2018, Reese's and Senior Bowl players hosted a community event to build upon Hershey's ongoing partnership with Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger relief charity with a network of 200 member food banks. On Jan. 26, bowl players packed boxes of food for local families served by Feeding the Gulf Coast, a Feeding America-affiliated food bank. Fans were encouraged to bring three nonperishable food items to the official Tailgate Party ahead of the game on Jan. 27 for a Reese's t-shirt and special giveaway items.

Reese's also donated an additional $10,000 to Feeding the Gulf Coast during a check presentation during the game.

"The Reese's brand is all about giving fans unique experiences, and the Reese's Senior Bowl gives fans the opportunity to watch their favorite college players compete in an All-Star showcase before they go pro," said Eric Bowers, brand manager for Reese's. "Reese's and our fans share a commitment to spreading goodness, and our partnership with Feeding America and Feeding the Gulf Coast this year will help to raise awareness about hunger and give back to this special community."

Hershey also plans to give out thousands of Hershey's Gold candy bars each time Team USA winds a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. After each gold medal win, the company will send coupons for the bars to at least the first 10,000 respondents via their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Details are available at The Hershey Co. is an official sponsor of the United States Olympics Committee.

Krispy Krunchy Chicken

2017 was another year of tremendous growth for Krispy Krunchy Chicken, which opened 509 new stores to bring its global count to 2,294 locations, according to the company.

"It has been another year of bringing our brand to thousands of chicken lovers across the world. As a company, we love to see new people fall in love with our food and it validates the work we do every day to make the best fried chicken in the world," said Neal Onebane, Krispy Krunchy founder and CEO. "We also announced our partnership with Otis Spunkmeyer in 2017, marking the introduction of warm, delicious cookies to our customers.

"As big as 2017 was for us, we have even bigger plans for 2018 and look forward to the opportunities this next year will bring," he added.

In 2017, Krispy Krunchy sold:

  • 14 million chicken breasts
  • 24.5 million chicken wings
  • 20 million chicken thighs
  • 20 million chicken legs
  • 29.6 million biscuits
  • 2,300,000 servings of Mac N Cheese

Mars Chocolate

The Snickers brand formed its first-ever e-sports partnership as the official chocolate of FlyQuest Sports, which competes in "League of Legends," "Rocket League" and "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds."

The brand will be present across all FlyQuest teams and will have an onsite presence both in the Team House and as a presence at fan activations throughout the year.

"It is extremely exciting for me to announce that Snickers has joined us as a Foundational Partner of FlyQuest," said Scott Pogrow, director of business development at FlyQuest. "In all of our conversations with them, they expressed a true passion and desire to give back to our fans. Throughout the year, we will showcase Snickers in original content and fan activations, providing our fans with memorable experiences."

Snickers will serve as presenting sponsor of the Snickers MVP of the Match, a weekly fan vote that decides the FlyQuest player of the week, as well as a custom content series. This original video series will be released throughout the year and showcase the lighter, funnier moments from inside the team house and at the studios. All activations will be supplemented with jersey branding and a social and digital activation presence.

"We have been exploring partnership opportunities on the team side for quite some time now, especially with teams committed to 'League of Legends' and 'Rocket League,'" said Michael Italia, senior brand manager, Snickers. "In working with FlyQuest, we felt they would provide us with the best opportunity to align with some of the biggest titles in e-sports. Their passionate fan base and desire to grow the entire community through unique activations aligned perfectly with our goals. We cannot wait to give back to the fans of FlyQuest, and e-sports as a whole."

Monster Energy

Monster Energy and mixed martial arts organization UFC renewed their global partnership in a multi-year extension. Monster will continue to serve as the official energy drink of UFC.

"Monster Energy is an amazing partner that truly understands what UFC is all about," said UFC President Dana White. "We're excited about this extension and we can't wait to take things to the next level."

As part of the extension, Monster will continue to have center canvas and entrance logo placement inside the UFC Octagon at events. The two brands will also work in conjunction on retail promotions during UFC events in select markets.

"We are thrilled to renew our global partnership with Monster Energy, a world-class brand and core sponsor that perfectly aligns with UFC," said UFC Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships Paul Asenciyo. "Both brands are the most innovative in their respective markets, and like UFC, Monster consistently strives to improve both its products and fan engagement. We look forward to continually combining our efforts to provide fans with premium products, both inside and outside of the Octagon."

Paytronix Systems Inc.

Paytronix received a $65-million growth equity investment from Great Hill Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm. Paytronix will use the funding to accelerate growth of its product suite, geographic footprint and market focus.

"Restaurant and convenience store operators are seeking more efficient and scalable ways to engage with their customers in real-time to increase foot traffic and sales," said Nick Cayer, partner, Great Hill Partners. "Paytronix is the clear market leader, providing its robust platform to brands such as Panera Bread, California Pizza Kitchen, Thorntons and Bloomin' Brands. Great Hill's investment model is to partner with strong founders and management teams of high growth companies. We are excited to work with Andrew Robbins and the entire Paytronix management team to help with the next stage of growth."

Great Hill's investment represents the first institutional capital in Paytronix, which has been a high-growth, profitable business for the past 10 years, the company said.

"To fully execute the vision we've set for the company, we needed a financial partner that could quickly scale with us," said Andrew Robbins, president of Paytronix. "With its expertise in growing tech companies, Great Hill Partners fits our needs perfectly. I look forward to accelerating the development of our technology to redefine the guest experience and perpetuate our strategic advantage."


PDI, a provider of enterprise software solutions to the convenience retail, wholesale petroleum, and logistics industries, acquired TouchStar Group LLC, a multinational logistics automation company. The acquisition expands PDI's product offerings into enterprise mobility software and automation systems.

TouchStar's global customer base and infrastructure, and its sophisticated mobility and fleet automation solutions, complement PDI's comprehensive logistics solutions suite, according to the company.

"We are thrilled to kick off the new year with the exciting news that we are adding TouchStar, its innovative portfolio of products and services and its employee base to PDI," said Jimmy Frangis, CEO of PDI. "TouchStar brings strong cloud-based enterprise mobility and automation solutions to PDI and affirms our commitment to delivering powerful software and cloud solutions that will help our customers thrive in a digital economy. The acquisition of TouchStar also continues PDI's strategy of developing, acquiring, and servicing best-in-class industry solutions for the fuel distribution and logistics industries worldwide."

The acquisition gives PDI additional industry and solution knowledge, particularly in enterprise mobility; a global infrastructure from which it can continue its track record of international growth; a marquee, global customer base; and a scalable cloud-based addition to PDI's comprehensive logistics platform.

PepsiCo Inc.

Ruffles, the Official Chip of the NBA and the presenting partner of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, helped fans score "baller status" leading up to NBA All-Star 2018 on Feb. 16. The brand unveiled the "Ruffles Baller for a Day" contest that will provide two winners with a trip to Los Angeles and an exclusive NBA All-Star 2018 experience.

Through Jan. 28, fans submitted videos demonstrating their hoop skills, talking about their love of basketball, or simply noting why they should be chosen as the "Ruffles Baller for a Day." Two contest winners received VIP access to meet celebrities, an opportunity to walk the Celebrity Game red carpet, participation in the Celebrity Game MVP trophy presentation and more.

"As the Official Chip of the NBA, we're proud to offer one-of-a-kind experiences for fans at this year's NBA All-Star in Los Angeles," said Tina Mahal, vice president of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. "Our core Ruffles fans love everything about basketball, especially the exciting atmosphere surrounding NBA All-Star and the Celebrity Game."

PepsiCo also invited three retired NFL stars to show off their cooking skills and compete in the Game Day Grub Match culinary competition: Greg Jennings, Super Bowl champion wide receiver and two-time Pro Bowler; Nick Mangold, seven-time Pro Bowl center for the New York Jets; and Rashad Jennings, running back and "Dancing with the Stars" winner.

The athletes prepared game day dishes using PepsiCo food and beverage products as ingredients, from Doritos to Tropicana, Sabra hummus to Naked Juice, and Tostitos to Quaker Oats. The three-episode competition can be viewed here

"PepsiCo's snacks and beverages have been staples of Super Bowl parties for decades and Game Day Grub Match takes it to the next level, bringing the worlds of food and football together in a really fun way," said PepsiCo Executive Chef Kalil, who was part of the all-star tasting panel. "The athletes brought their A-game to this competition and I was really impressed at what they cooked up — especially under the pressure of a time clock and heckling judges like me!"

The winning athlete's dish was featured on the Buffalo Wild Wings menu at Mall of America in Minneapolis during Super Bowl LII weekend. As part of the program, PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation are once again sponsoring Taste of the NFL's "Party with a Purpose," a charity event that raises money and awareness for the fight against hunger.

Sahale Snacks

In celebration of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Sahale Snacks is holding its first-ever collaboration with Team USA.

To exemplify "daring combinations," Sahale Snacks teamed up with halfpipe skier Torin Yater-Wallace, slopestyle skier McRae Williams and snowboarder Hailey Langland to encourage fans to take that path to greatness this winter.

"In preparation for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, I spend most of my days on the slopes training and competing nonstop," said Yater-Wallace. "In between runs, Sahale Snacks Maple Pecans Glazed Mix is my go-to, as it fuels me to keep going. Sahale Snacks flavor combinations inspire my most daring tricks, like a personal favorite the Rodeo 7 Blunt, because I never want to settle for ordinary — on or off the slopes."

Fans can access Sahale-sponsored 360° videos of Yater-Wallace's training runs leading up to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games on YouTube.

Stryve Foods

Stryve Foods LLC has acquired the assets of Biltong USA, one of the first USDA-approved biltong manufacturers in the country. Biltong USA produces high-quality sliced beef biltong, droëwors, and other related products nationwide.

"Bringing our manufacturing resources to Biltong USA will greatly increase scale, allowing us to get biltong into more people's hands," said Stryve Foods Chairman Ted Casey.

Biltong USA will continue to offer its products under its current brand while also producing for Stryve Foods.

"This is a major accomplishment for our young brand and a huge step towards bringing awareness about this amazing product to the U.S. We're ready to make huge strides in the meat snack industry," said Gabe Carimi, CEO of Stryve Foods.

Swedish Match

After finding success in the western part of the U.S., Swedish Match's ZYN nicotine pouches arrived in Chicago at a new pop-up store in Lincoln Park dedicated to showcasing the future of nicotine.

The 1,000-square-foot store features a full selection of ZYN products, ZYN-branded merchandise, a listening lounge that houses vintage and new vinyl, and headphone stations. Complementary coffee, Wi-Fi and modern communal work spaces are also available.

"ZYN has performed exceptionally well out west, and now, we're thrilled to introduce Chicago to the future of nicotine," said Ryan Ganley, senior brand manager for ZYN. "Users can skip the smoke breaks, creating a cleaner and better experience that can be enjoyed virtually anywhere."

The ZYN Store is located at 840 W. Armitage Ave. in Chicago. Store hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., January through June.

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