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    Supplier Briefs

    News from Kraft Foods, Nabisco, Concord EFS and more.

    Kraft Foods Inc. is mixing up new food combinations that mix its traditional brands with those of newly bought cookie maker Nabisco. Consumers can already find Kraft cheese in new versions of Nabisco's Ritz and Cheese Nips crackers, and will soon find Ritz crackers in Kraft's Oscar Mayer Lunchables meal kits for kids. The latest additions are part of Kraft's broader goal to expand into fast-growing snacks and convenience foods.

    They come on the heels of aggressive Nabisco product rollouts since Kraft purchased the largest U.S. cookie maker in late 2000 for $18.9 billion. Kraft has boosted Nabisco sales with a much-heralded Chocolate Creme Oreo, as well as Mini Oreos and Ritz Bits sandwiches in snacking pouches. It has also added a fudge-covered Oreo in three flavors.

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    McDonald's Corp. announced its title sponsorship of a nationwide program that honors men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces. "McDonald's National Salute to the U.S. Military" is a multi-faceted program that will officially debut in May during National Military Appreciation Month.

    The National Salute program kicks off in May in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. with the McDonald's Fleet Week and McDonald's Air & Sea Show -- the world's largest two-day spectator event featuring military and civilian air, water and entertainment activities.

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    Diageo Plc, the world's top spirits maker, mapped out on its U.S. strategy for integrating the Seagram spirits brands in a drive that will bring it head-to-head with brewing giant Anheuser-Busch. Paul Clinton, president and CEO of Diageo North America, told Reuters in an interview the company would be flexing its muscle to reduce its number of distributors and take market share from brewers with its ready-to-drink portfolio.

    "We're no longer competing with [world number-two spirits group] Allied Domecq in the U.S. as much as Anheuser-Busch," Clinton said. And this is despite Diageo's recent $800 million sale of its Malibu coconut rum brand to Allied in order to satisfy Federal Trade Commission conditions for clearing the Seagram deal.

    Diageo's $5 billion share in a total $8.15 billion deal with France's Pernod-Ricard brought such prestigious Seagram's brands as Captain Morgan rum and Crown Royal whisky into a spirits portfolio that now contains nine of the top 25 U.S. spirits brands.

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    Concord EFS Inc., an e-commerce provider to the convenience store and petroleum marketing industry, reached an agreement to acquire Core Data Resources, a privately-held electronic transaction processor based in Amarillo, Texas. The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2002. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

    Core Data currently drives approximately 35,000 ATMs nationwide. Concord, the largest ATM processor in the United States, drives approximately 58,000 ATMs, including those signed and in the process of being converted to Concord's platform as of year-end 2001.

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