Year in Review: The Top Supplier News of 2021

Competitive strategy updates and supply chain struggles were among the top headlines this year.
Angela Hanson
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NATIONAL REPORT — The tobacco and candy & snacks categories saw a number of strategic shifts this year as companies made plans to cater to an evolving marketplace. Meanwhile, disruptions to the supply chain and a shortage of professional drivers presented significant challenges to suppliers, distributors and retailers across the country.

These are the top 10 supplier headlines of 2021, as reported by Convenience Store News Online:

1. Hershey Announces Long-Term Strategy to Lead Better-for-You Confection Category
Building from its strength in portion-controlled choices, The Hershey Co. will expand its future portfolio to deliver more reduced sugar, organic and plant-based alternatives while continuing to build its classic array of beloved products. It also partnered with ASR Group, a leading sweetener company, to co-lead an equity investment in Bonumose Inc., a start-up company with breakthrough innovations in plant-based food ingredients.

2. BAT Forms Strategic Collaboration Around Next-Generation Cannabis Products
British American Tobacco Group (BAT) entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Organigram Inc. to research and develop next-generation adult cannabis products, initially focusing on cannabidiol items. Through the collaboration, BAT will gain access to cutting-edge R&D technologies, product innovation and cannabis expertise, complementing its extensive plant-based expertise and development capabilities.

3. NACS & Conexxus Launch New Digital ID Verification Solution
NACS and Conexxus introduced TruAge, a new digital identification solution that enhances current age-verification systems at all points of sales while protecting user privacy. TruAge makes it easier and more accurate to verify a customer's age when purchasing age-restricted products, and at the same time makes identity theft difficult. A customer's date of birth and photo are used to verify identity. Then, when confirming age and identity, one-time-use tokens are placed on the customer's mobile device to confirm legal age to purchase age-restricted products.

4. Mars Wrigley Rolls Out New Platform to Lift Impulse Buys
Mars Wrigley debuted a new insights platform that incorporates test-and-learn results and new data on consumer behavior to customize impulse shopping solutions for its retail partners. The Accelerating Impulse Moments platform seeks to shape impulse throughout the shopper journey and provide an effective retail experience through curbside pick-up, online or in-store shopping.

5. Swedish Match Plans Separation of Cigar Business
After conducting a thorough strategic review of its businesses, Swedish Match announced plans to separate its cigar business as the company looks to exit the manufacturing of combustible tobacco products, enabling it to focus on smoke-free products such as nicotine pouches and snus. The cigar business will be spun off to shareholders.

6. PepsiCo Launches $50M Platform to Support Hispanic-Owned Businesses
PepsiCo Inc. rolled out Juntos Crecemos (Together We Grow), a $50-million platform that seeks to strengthen Hispanic-owned businesses, specifically restaurants, bodegas and carnicerías (meat markets); address foundational business challenges; and support business growth over the next five years. Juntos Crecemos is part of PepsiCo's Racial Equality Journey Hispanic Initiative, a $172-million set of commitments launched in October 2020.

7. FDA Authorizes First Vapor Products for U.S. Market
The Food and Drug Administration gave the greenlight for R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. (RJR Vapor), an operating company of Reynolds American Inc., to market its Vuse Solo electronic nicotine delivery system. The move is the first time the FDA authorized an electronic cigarette or vapor product under the premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) pathway.

8. Truck Driver Shortage Reaches All-Time High
The shortage of truck drivers isn't just a big problem — it's at an all-time high, according to the American Trucking Associations, which reported the trucking industry is short 80,000 drivers. Truck drivers move 71 percent of goods in the U.S. economy. The shortage existed before the COVID-19 pandemic but has grown worse since its onset.

9. Philip Morris International & Altria Must Stop Selling IQOS in the U.S.
The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Philip Morris International and Altria Group Inc. must stop selling and importing the heat-not-burn tobacco product. The ruling follows a finding that IQOS infringes on two patents by British America Tobacco Group. The ban went into effect two months later.

10. FTC Launches Inquiry Into Supply Chain, Orders Companies to Participate
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) turned to large retailers, wholesalers and consumer goods suppliers to get to the bottom of ongoing supply chain issues, issuing orders to provide more information on the disruptions to Walmart Inc., Inc., Kroger Co., C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc., Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., McLane Co. Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., Tyson Foods Inc. and Kraft Heinz Co. Under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, the agency is authorized to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.

About the Author

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson is Senior Editor of Convenience Store News. She joined the brand in 2011. Angela spearheads most of CSNews’ industry awards programs and authors numerous special news reports. In 2016, she took over the foodservice beat, a critical category for the c-store industry. 

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