Altria logo

Year in Review: Top Supplier News of 2019

Angela Hanson
Senior Editor
Angela Hanson profile picture

NEWARK, N.J. — 2019 marked another year of consolidation on the supplier side of the convenience store industry, as well as the retailer side. Numerous top suppliers made acquisitions to better position themselves in today's competitive market. Suppliers also launched a variety of innovative new initiatives to boost brand loyalty and increase sales.

These are the top 10 supplier headlines of the year, as reported by Convenience Store News Online:

1. Altria Closes $1.8B Investment in Canada's Cronos Group
The deal gives Altria a foothold in the global cannabis market. Cronos Group is a diversified and vertically integrated cannabis company with a presence across five continents.

2. Eby-Brown Acquired by Performance Food Group
The acquisition will allow PFG's Vistar segment to strategically expand in the convenience channel where there is significant overlap with suppliers and product categories, as well as opportunities to use PFG brands for unique solutions in the prepared/made-to-order foodservice market. 

3. Ferrero Inks Agreement to Acquire Kellogg's Cookie & Fruit Snack Businesses
As part of the $1.3 billion transaction, Ferrero will acquire a cookie portfolio that includes the iconic Keebler and Famous Amos brands, as well as premium family cookie brand Mother's, Murray sugar free cookies, and Little Brownie Bakers, supplier of Girl Scout cookies. The company will also pick up Stretch Island and Fruity Snacks, as well as Keebler's ice cream cone and pie crust products.

4. FDA Approves Philip Morris' Heat-Not-Burn IQOS for U.S. Market
IQOS is an electronic device that heats tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper to generate a nicotine-containing aerosol. Under an exclusive licensing agreement, Philip Morris USA will commercialize IQOS in the U.S. with three Marlboro HeatStick variants.

5. McKee Foods & Prairie City Bakery Join Forces
McKee Foods, maker of the Little Debbie brand of snack cakes, will acquire Prairie City Bakery and continue using the Prairie City Bakery brand name and existing distribution channels.
 Its product portfolio has grown to more than 125 individually wrapped and bulk foodservice products.

6. Mars Wrigley Confectionery Launches First-of-Its-Kind Retailer Program
The Innovative Merchandising Incubator provides retailers with the opportunity to receive new, groundbreaking merchandising solutions to drive impactful sales. The retailers selected will have the opportunity to tap into brand-new concepts that shake up traditional merchandising, improve their consumers' shopping experience and drive sales.

7. Hershey Gives C-store Retailers a New Way to Increase Product Speed to Shelf
The Hershey Co. is offering a new time-saving and profit-building tool for retailers through its Hershey Solutions online portal. The site allows convenience store decision makers to quickly capitalize on new product launches and shopper trends.

8. New PepsiCo Loyalty Program Rewards Snack & Beverage Pairings
PepsiCo is rewarding customers for their snack and beverage pairings with its first-ever cash-back loyalty program, PepCoin. The digital program rewards customers who purchase a single-serve PepsiCo beverage and Frito-Lay snack together, both specially marked. All customers have to do is scan the codes on the bag or under the bottle cap with their mobile devices. 

9. Juul Labs Suspends Sales of Fruit-Flavored Vapor Products
On Oct. 17, the San Francisco-based company suspended the sale of its non-tobacco, non-menthol-based flavors (Mango, Creme, Fruit and Cucumber) in the United States, pending FDA review. T
he following month, it also pulled its Mint-flavored pods from the market. 

10. Coca-Cola Unveils New Tool to Help C-store Retailers Drive Shopper Conversion & Sales
The Coca-Cola Co. aims to help convenience store retailers drive shopper conversion and sales with a new tool: beverage segmentation. This tool segments c-stores into clusters based on both store-level shopper data and store-level beverage demand data. Then, Coca-Cola mines store-level shopper and non-alcoholic, ready-to-drink beverage demand data and analyzes it using proprietary models with advanced techniques, such as machine learning.