8 Highlights From McLane's 2018 National Trade Show

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

Brett Dworski, Associate Editor

mclane trade show

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The more than 1,200 attendees of the McLane Co.’s National Trade Show got some welcome surprises from their host with news of new foodservice partnerships, well-versed speakers and a trade-show floor that surprised and delighted retailers.

Here’s a look at eight highlights from the trade show that caught CSP’s attention. …

Photograph by Steve Holtz

1. Bringing pizza to the masses

fly guys pizza

McLane Co. was plenty ready to be in the spotlight on the trade-show floor as it introduced some new additions to its McLane Kitchen offer. Specifically, it unveiled a new program that aims to bring a pizza offer to convenience-store retailers of any size. The Fly Guys Pizza program delivers frozen pizzas that retailers can serve whole or by the slice, or merchandise in the freezer section for consumers to bake at home. The pizza comes in pepperoni, five-meat and breakfast varieties. Fly Guys is the first joint partnership between McLane Kitchen and McLane's Consumer Value Products (CVP) private-label subsidiary. But Teresa Voelter, product director for McLane Co., promised more to come. "Fly Guys is a template for attacking foodservice in the future," she told CSP Daily News.

Photograph by Steve Holtz

2. More for the menu

totinos pizza rolls

Other new foodservice offerings from McLane Kitchen rolled out at the show include baked chicken from Tyson Foods (available in two flavors each of the chicken strips, bites or bone-in wings), Totino’s Foodservice pizza rolls heated in the store and a stuffed waffle from General Mills in a sausage patty with eggs.

Photograph by Steve Holtz

3. Virtual becomes reality

mobile virtual trade show mclane

McLane Co. also launched its Mobile Virtual Trade Show (VTS), a new ordering application for convenience-store retailers. Mobile VTS allows operators to place orders using any Apple or Android smart device right from the aisle of a store or anywhere else. "This allows retailers to place orders as they walk the store," said Deon Johnson, vice president of customer technology. "We're always trying to find ways to make ordering easier for our customers." The app is an ordering solution with a scrolling feature, detailed product listings, summaries and new items added weekly.

Photograph by McLane Co. 

4. Theismann for the win

mclane trade show joe theismann

Football icon Joe Theismann took the podium as a keynote speaker at the expo, sharing secrets of success with the hundreds of audience members. “If you want to be successful, read about successful people,” he said. Theismann, a former Washington Redskins quarterback, spoke of hard work and humbleness, traits that anyone can have in life, whether they’re a professional athlete or a convenience retailer, he said. He advised the audience to carry themselves with confidence and to approach each day as their last—the latter of which being something he learned from his career-ending leg injury in 1985.

Photograph by Steve Holtz

5. Cigarettes are down …


Consumers are smoking fewer cigarettes, and retailers are feeling the effects. Cigarette sales have been on the decline since 2014 and are projected to decrease nearly 5% by the end of 2018, said Kathy Sparrow, executive vice president of marketing and sales for ITG Brands, during a Cigarette & Tobacco Industry Update. “Smoking incidences are declining nationally,” she said. “We don’t see that changing anytime soon.” Instead, consumers are resorting to other means of attaining their daily puffs …

Photograph by Shutterstock

6. … and vaping is up


Vaping saw a more than 35% increase from 2013 to 2014, Sparrow said, and the category has grown 88% compared to 2017 in the first half of 2018. Sparrow predicted that number to reach 130% by the end of the year. “The increased vapor popularity will continue, based on improvements in technology,” she said.

Photograph by Shutterstock

7. Gummies galore

airhead gummies

Gummies and fruit snacks were at the forefront of new products on display at the expo. Some items included Airheads Fruit Gummies and White Mystery Bites, Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers Fruit & Fire, Hi-Chew Plus Fruit, Torie & Howard Chewie Fruities and Sour Punch Boltz. And it’s no coincidence that manufacturers are creating more gummy snacks: As of Aug. 12, nonchocolate chewy candies had grown 6.7% in total revenue from the previous year, according to IRI, Chicago. C-store unit sales have increased 3.6% from last year.

Photograph by Brett Dworski

8. Drink it up


In packaged beverages, healthier drinks won the day. Significant entries in the healthier segment included:

  • Green-tea based energy drinks from V8 Energy Sparkling and X2
  • Kombucha from GT's via Advantage Solutions, Kevita from PepsiCo and Suja from Coca-Cola Co.
  • Ready-to-drink smoothies from PepsiCo's Naked, Coca-Cola's Simply, Lala Promised and Chobani Drink.
  • Protein drinks from Shamrock Farms' Rockin' Protein, MET-Rx Pure Protein and Optimum Nutrition's Isopure and Pure Pro 50.

Photograph by Steve Holtz