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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The winter air was frigid on the first day of the S. Abraham & Sons (SAS) 2015 Vendor Exhibit and Trade Show, but SAS President Alan Abraham already had warm months on his mind.
"Spring is right around the corner," Abraham told CSNews Online, noting that most of the company's client base is located in the upper Midwest and still grappling with winter weather. "We try to get them to see all the new things and the old standbys that sell in the summertime, and get their stores ready for the spring and summer business. It's kind of like a chance to hope for a good summer."
More than 200 vendors exhibited their wares to convenience store chains and single-store owners at the show, held Thursday and Friday at Grand Rapids' DeVos Place Convention Center. The event's Hollywood theme invited attendees to "celebrate the stars of convenience retailing" and cast a spotlight on new items at the 21st Century Convenience Store and Food Court showcase.
On the show floor, numerous suppliers highlighted variations on existing favorites. The Kellogg Co. featured peanut butter-based Pop Tarts Gone Nutty, which c-stores are encouraged to place alongside coffee to promote as a bundled purchase, and single-serve Pringles with attached dip.
For c-stores that want to offer upscale treats, Calico Cottage demonstrated a fudge retailing program that lets retailers make their own fudge in-store using butter, water and Calico's fudge mix. With two hours of work, a store can create enough fudge slabs in multiple flavors to fill up an entire display.
Among foodservice vendors, AdvancePierre Foods aimed to stand out with a hybrid cheeseburger roller grill hot dog, while Green Chile Food Co. differentiated itself as a maker of premium "microbatch" burritos.
SAS itself plans to make foodservice one of its main focuses in 2015, Abraham told CSNews Online.
Several suppliers agreed that "spicy" is a growing flavor trend on the savory side, while salted caramel is increasingly popular in sweet products.
Retailers in attendance, meanwhile, listed better-for-you products and new electronic cigarette offerings among their most-wanted items at the show.
Grand Rapids-based S. Abraham & Sons is a distributor serving convenience, grocery, drug and campus retail stores in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri.