SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Ultimate Sales, a sales and marketing agency for the convenience-store industry, has expanded its services beyond foodservice by hiring team members to work in the candy, snack and packaged beverage sectors. This is part of the company’s initiative to become a one-stop shop for all c-store categories, it said.
“The broker business is built on long-standing relationships and trust that has been cultivated over many years,” said Wes Stone, owner and founder of Ultimate Sales. “And frankly, succession planning is lacking in the world of sales agencies so that when people retire or leave, that trust evaporates. Instead, at Ultimate Sales our mission is to reinvest in our future by hiring seasoned professionals with deep skill, knowledge and experience that will further strengthen and grow our business. Ultimate’s strength has always been, and will continue to be, hiring experts with excellent relationships.”
The new team members include Vice President of Sales East Jeff Garlow, who previously worked for Acosta brands, and Vice President of Sales West Tyler Coates, who previously spent 11 years with Tyson Foods and was the 7-Eleven team lead. Karyn Vaughn, former CFO of Ultimate Sales, will become the new CEO.
Founded in 1993, Savannah, Ga.-based Ultimate Sales began as a foodservice and marketing company for various c-store retailers, distributors and manufacturers. The company’s c-store clients include Circle K, Shell, BP, 7-Eleven, Sheetz, Speedway and Kwik Trip.
CHICAGO -- Gone are the days of breakfast, lunch and dinner being consumers’ only meals of the day. People are increasingly snacking to cure their hunger, and they don’t seem to be stopping. More than half of consumers (55%) snack between meals at least twice a day—a 5% increase compared to two years ago, according to the 2018 Snacking Consumer Trend Report by CSP sister research firm Technomic. This year brought an onslaught of new snack and candy trends to retailers, some that may continue drawing customers down treat aisles in 2019.
Here are five snack and candy trends that could set the stage for next year …
Private-label snacks have already emerged in large c-store chains, giving these brands an opportunity to compete with their counterparts.
In March 2018, 7-Eleven expanded its line of packaged bakery items with the 7-Select private-label sweet bread. The bread, which was available for a limited time only, came in three varieties: Panquecitos, miniature vanilla loaf cakes; Roles de Canela, cinnamon rolls with raisins; and Panque con Nuez, sliced pound cake with chopped pecans.
Six months later, Yesway launched its newest private-label products, Yesway Candy and Yesway Baked Goods, in Yesway c-stores nationwide. Yesway Candy features loose-bag candies such as Mini Sour Gummi Worms and Gummi Bears, while Yesway Baked Goods features Powdered Donut Holes, Blueberry Muffins and fried pies.
Tortilla chips are dominating c-store salty snacks. The category garnered more than $1 billion in sales—good for a 10.8% increase compared to 2017—making up a fifth of the entire salty snack segment, according to data from Chicago-based research firm IRI. Cheese snacks were the only snack segment to come close to tortilla chips in terms of growth, yet the category still fell behind by more than 3%.
Popular tortilla chip brands this year included Doritos’ Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy (up 875% from 2017), Paqui (up 163%), Barcel Takis (up 63%), El Sabroso Guacachips (up 23%) and El Sabroso Salsitas (up 20%). Highlighting these brands, as well as other tortilla chip labels, may spark the snacking category altogether.
Between January and October 2017, cannabidiol, or CBD, candies accounted for nearly 11% of the total candy market in Colorado, Washington and Oregon, according to Boulder, Colo.-based research firm BDS Analytics. Moreover, CBD candy grew by nearly 170% in 2017, compared to 51% for candy overall.
CBD operators are channeling consumers’ interests in cannabis by infusing various candies with CBD, which doesn't contain the psychoactive element tetrahydrocannabino (THC). CBD products entering the c-store market include Hemptail, a flavored malt beverage made with Hemp; Instant CBD strips; and CBD Lollipops.
The U.S. chocolate market is expected to reach about $23 billion in total retail sales by the end of 2018, according to research firm Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md., and it doesn't appear to be slowing down. This is partially due to the emergence of premium chocolate—products that sway from traditional chocolate bars, the research firm said.
New premium chocolate products have emerged in c-stores this year, such as Mars Wrigley Confectionery's new line of chocolate-covered nuts for its Dove brand or the Hershey Co.’s Dipped Pretzels line, which debuted at the recent 2018 NACS Show. More recently, Mars Wrigley rebranded its American Heritage Chocolate (AHC) products, such as a Gourmet Hot Cocoa, Finely Grated Chocolate, Tablet Bars and Tasting Squares.
Nonchocolate candies such as sour worms, jelly beans and gummy bears are surging. Packaged Facts foresees total retail dollar sales of the sector hitting $11 billion by the end of the year, with sales having increased 3% from 2013 to 2018.
Specifically, sour candies have erupted in the nonchocolate category this year. Products such as Mike and Ike Mega Sour Mix, Trolli Sour Brite All Star Mix and Sour Punch Wild Bites all debut at the 2018 NACS show, ready to arrive in c-stores in 2019. These lip-puckering treats may be help spark continued growth in the candy segment for c-store operators next year.