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    Retailers Discuss Candy, Snacks Trends at CSNews Roundtable

    Top priorities include speed-to-market, alignment of new product releases with store resets, suggestive selling, and more.

    CHICAGO -- Top convenience store candy and snack category managers met here last week on the evening of the Sweets & Snacks Expo to discuss the latest trends in their product categories.

    This year's Convenience Store News/National Confectioners Association Candy & Snacks Roundtable included representatives from BP/ampm, E-Z Mart, Kum & Go, Quick Chek, Thorntons and TravelCenters of America, and was sponsored by The Hershey Co. and McLane Co.

    Asked to discuss their greatest opportunities and challenges, the retailers noted:

    -- Getting new items to market faster is of utmost importance and candy suppliers are doing a better job of timing new item releases to seasonal changes in retailers' planograms;
    -- Picking a category captain for the candy category is very helpful and benefits the entire category sales;
    -- Training clerks to suggestive sell -- especially for new items -- is a best practice; and,
    -- Getting rid of older items or non-sellers quickly through a markdown strategy is important to make space for the many new products that come into the store.

    The candy and gum category once again proved to be one of the more recession-resistant categories in convenience stores last year, according to research presented during the roundtable by CSNews Editor-in-Chief Don Longo. Dollar sales of chocolate bars and packs were up 5.4 percent last year, according to the CSNews 2010 Industry Report.

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