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    Supplier Spotlights: Mondelēz International, Ronnoco Coffee & Hunt Brothers Pizza

    Next Generation Labs and Snyder's-Lance also share news.

    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:

    Hunt Brothers Pizza

    Hunt Brothers Pizza announced multiple winners of its inaugural "Hook, Line & Winner" sweepstakes. Sandra McClard of Albany, Ky., won the grand prize of a Tracker Boats Grizzly 1760 Sportsman Boat, valued at $16,000.

    Other winners include:

    • First place (5): Christopher Ryan Parton of Brownsboro, Ala.; Vicki Gaunt of Terre Haute, Ind.; Susan Green of New Blaine, Ark.; Dustin Stout of Salina, Kan.; and Sara Paris of Walnut Grove, Mo., each winning an Archenemy bowfishing package valued at $379
    • Second place (5): Bass Pro Shop gift cards valued at $200
    • Third place (5): Bass Pro Shop gift cards valued at $100

    The sweepstakes marked the first time that Hunt Brothers Pizza offered a fishing-themed promotion just in time for the fishing season.

    "We know many of our customers are avid fishermen, and we wanted to offer prizes that would help them enjoy fishing even more," said Keith Solsvig, vice president of marketing for Hunt Brothers Pizza. "We were also excited to partner with industry leaders Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats to give our fans top-of-the-line gear. Thanks to all who participated in Hook, Line & Winner, and congratulations to all the winners!"

    Mondelēz International

    Fox Networks Group and Mondelēz International finalized a partnership through which Mondelēz will leverage Fox Advanced Ad Formats on streaming and Video On Demand (VOD) platforms. The partnership is centered around ad format innovation and content co-creation, and reflects how advertisers can work with entertainment properties to define new consumer brand experiences through storytelling, the company said.

    Mondelēz and Fox will collaborate to roll out new ad formats on new screens, all aimed at creating content and ad experiences that work at scale in streaming and VOD environments.

    "Capturing audience attention is more difficult than ever. As audiences become more empowered to control their viewing experience, it's essential to look at new ways to drive consumer engagement," said Kristi Karens, North America lead, media and content at Mondelēz International. "We're excited to build on our partnership with Fox Networks Group to build brands that offer great content to our consumers."

    As part of the deal, Mondelēz will expand its use of Fox's ad formats and advanced data targeting programs across all screens. It will also collaborate with Fox to create consumer-friendly ad formats that are effective for advertisers while developing a new standard for what commercials will look like in a VOD and on-demand driven world.

    Next Generation Labs

    Vapeix and Next Generation Labs partnered to create a vapor technology alliance and plan to develop both closed and open system vaping devices for Next Generation Lab's e-liquid brand customers who use TFN Nicotine.

    The alliance brings together a cloud-connected smart vaporizer platform from Vapeix with a synthetic molecular nicotine that is not derived from tobacco by Next Generation Labs. The partnership seeks to deliver a vapor system that can only be used with TFN Nicotine in order to give device personalization, convenience and control features to consumers via their smartphones.

    "There has been a steady stream of innovation in the vape industry, but no one has successfully developed a connected device that can operate across an open and a closed system," said Ron Tully, a founding member of Next Generation Labs. "The team at Vapeix has developed a truly innovative system, which makes them a natural partner for Next Generation Lab's TFN Nicotine. Through the smart technology embedded in Vapeix Powered devices, the vaporizers will only work with TFN brands — allowing us to create a vape market which is unequivocally disassociated from traditional vaping devices that are intended to be used with tobacco-derived nicotine."

    Vapeix Powered vaporizers use near field communication technology that is embedded into the device, e-liquid labels and packaging, as well as an encoded cartridge chip technology that stores product profile information to identify the type of liquid that can determine consumption and authenticate usage permissions. The Vapix-powered Next Generation Labs devices will only operate with approved TFN e-liquid brands. Once enabled with an appropriate label, consumers are then given control via a smartphone app, enabling customization of a variety of features from atomizer configuration, liquid consumption, puff rates and temperature readings to product safety controls, haptic feedback, a device locator and more, according to the companies.

    "There's currently a lot of fear in the market as vape businesses and analysts worry that regulation will stifle innovation in the industry; so it was a great opportunity to connect with Next Generation Labs which, like Vapeix, has focused its energy on creating a new product category that will enable future innovation in a narrowing industry," said Vapeix founder Kyle Newton. "This technology alliance will not only open the door for an entirely new, non-tobacco vape market, it aligns us closer to the pharmaceutical industry when combining the benefits from Vapeix Powered technologies with TFN, which can potentially result in future cessation tools for adult smokers."

    Ronnoco Coffee

    St. Louis-based Ronnoco Coffee acquired the route business of Beaver Dam, Wis.-based Black Waters Coffee Co., which services c-store and foodservice accounts in southern and central Wisconsin.

    "This purchase will allow us to increase our penetration in the Wisconsin market and give Black Waters Coffee customers access to a much broader selection of Ronnoco's coffees, teas, beverages and related products and services," said Ronnoco CEO Scott Meader.

    This marks Ronnoco's seventh acquisition in the past three and a half years and is part of the company's plans to grow both geographically and in market share. Ronnoco previously bought International Blends, Henderson Coffee, the coffee and tea business of Love Bottling Co., Biff's Coffee, Beverage by Quench and U.S. Roasterie.

    The acquisitions have allowed Ronnoco to expand its presence throughout Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas in c-stores, restaurants, offices and casinos, the company said.


    Snyder's of Hanover's transition of its main pretzel bakery in Hanover, Pa., to a peanut-free production facility in order to accommodate consumer demand for snacks free of this allergen.

    "Snyder's of Hanover pretzels have always been a great snacking option for families with kids because they're baked, wholesome and delicious," said Rod Troni, chief marketing officer for Snyder's-Lance. "Now that our bakeries are peanut-free facilities, it makes pretzels an even better choice, especially for kids with peanut allergies. They provide families with a great snack alternative for school, home or anywhere with friends."

    Snyder's of Hanover pretzels made in any of the company's peanut-free facilities will have packaging clearly marked with a peanut-free icon and allergen information. Products such as Pretzel Minis, Pretzel Sticks, Pretzel Snaps and Pretzel Rods already display the new allergen information, and remaining products with with updated graphics will be on store shelves by the end of the year.

    "It's important to note that most of our Snyder's of Hanover products already did not contain nuts," said Troni. "But we took the extra step of turning our facility peanut-free to eliminate the chances of cross-contamination."

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