Midwest retailer Meijer is welcoming an estimated 40,000 incoming college freshmen as they head to campus this fall during the widely-popular in-store parties dubbed “Meijer Mania.”
These annual Back-to-College events celebrate incoming students in style during a night of fun – complete with a DJ, photo booth and interactive contests – while helping them collect their last-minute dorm and classroom essentials. The retailer kicked off Meijer Mania events in mid-August and will host a total 23 events across the Midwest through early September.
“Our Meijer Mania events generate a lot of energy among the students, who are embarking on a new experience,” said Cathy Cooper, Senior Director of Promotions and Sponsorships at Meijer. “They bring their creativity and school spirit, and share the fun with their family and friends through social networks like Vine, Instagram and Twitter. We are pleased to partner with so many colleges and universities to help ease the transition for these students.”
To follow what students and the community are saying about these events on their social media channels and in the news, visit the Meijer Mania feed on Storify: https://storify.com/meijer/meijermania
Meijer began throwing in-store parties for incoming college freshmen about a decade ago to give students a chance to get to know their peers in a fun environment, and introduce the Meijer brand to those who may not have grown up shopping at the Midwest supercenter – some of whom may learn how to pronounce the retailer’s name for the first time, Cooper said.
In total, an estimated 40,000 students – about 1,700 freshmen per event – will bus from campus to their local Meijer store location for a night of festivities. Typically, a DJ will get the crowd pumped up while students participate in interactive games and contests, snap pictures in the photo booth, and stock their carts with snacks and school supplies. Meijer also provides samples and coupons, and occasionally hosts big-ticket giveaways.
One of retail’s leading shopping seasons, Back-to-School and College is a $75 billion industry, according to the National Retail Federation. Meijer Mania events help spread out the spending during a time when college students and their families are busy preparing for the school year.
Halfpops, the partially popped and fully delicious popcorn snack, today unveiled two new flavors sure to satisfy the sweet and savory crowd alike – Caramel & Sea Salt and Chipotle Barbeque. Adding to the wildly popular Halfpops product line-up, the delicious new offerings will hit retail shelves in September 2014. The new flavors join Halfpops’ existing offerings of Aged White Cheddar and Butter & Pure Ocean Sea Salt, which were launched in 2011 and quickly became a snack favorite coast-to-coast.
The new Caramel & Sea Salt and Chipotle Barbeque flavor varieties start with non-GMO corn kernels that are half-popped to perfection and expertly seasoned with natural flavors and ingredients. As with Halfpops’ entire product line, they are gluten-free, have no preservatives, no corn syrup, no hydrogenated oils, and no artificial flavors and are completely nut-free.
The brand’s debut sweet flavor offering, Caramel & Sea Salt boasts Halfpops’ signature satisfying crunch and is seasoned with brown sugar, sea salt, sweet-cream, and accented with all-natural caramel flavor making for a perfectly sweet and crunchy treat. Chipotle Barbeque, Halfpops’ first dairy-free and vegan option is seasoned with real chipotle pepper, paprika, natural smoke powder, sea salt and other wholesome spices to deliver an intriguing flavor for those who crave a spicy kick. Both flavors have only 130 calories per serving and contain zero trans-fat, making for a smart snacking choice.
“Halfpops has experienced significant growth; our year-to-date sales are already up six fold year-over-year,” said Mike Fitzgerald, Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Halfpops. “Since launching in 2011, Halfpops has grown a loyal fan base which is why we are so excited to deliver two new flavor varieties to those who want a healthy, satisfying and unique snack.”
Halfpops are available in 2-ounce bags that retail for $1.49 each, and 6-ounce bags that retail for $3.99. The new Caramel & Sea Salt and Chipotle Barbeque Halfpops are expected to be available in a variety of grocery stores and specialty markets throughout the Northwest – including Costco, Whole Foods, PCC Markets, Metropolitan Markets, Haggen, Central Markets and more – and is available nationwide at retailers in more than 30 states. A complete store locator is available at www.halfpops.com/#storelocator, and product can also be purchased online at Halfpops.com.
KeHE Distributors, LLC has completed its acquisition of Nature’s Best – a California-based distributor of health and natural food products. The acquisition, first announced on July 18, supports KeHE’s strategic focus of being the preferred supply chain partner in the natural, specialty, and fresh products marketplace in North America. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The Nature’s Best transaction further expands KeHE’s national distribution capabilities, and broadens it’s natural and organic expertise. Already the largest distributor of specialty food products and the second largest distributor of natural food products in North America, KeHE will now employ over 4000 employees, operate 14 warehouses, distribute to over 35,000 store doors weekly and export to 32 countries.
“Now that the acquisition is complete, we are thrilled to be welcoming the highly talented Nature’s Best team into the KeHE family and building upon the more than 45 years of Nature’s Best marketing, logistics, and distribution excellence,” stated KeHE’s President and CEO, Brandon Barnholt. “Our industry is rapidly evolving, and this transaction allows us to serve our customers with more efficiency and innovation, while delivering on our strategic promise of being the best supply partner to retailers ranging from the smallest independent grocer or natural food store to the largest regional or national chain.”
Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board has promoted Marty Pullin to Senior Vice President Channel Management. He will lead WMMB’s channel management team, overseeing retail and foodservice program development and execution, technical services, market research and dairy company communications.
“Marty has successfully managed a variety of responsibilities and played a key role in developing and executing programs to increase the distribution and sales of Wisconsin dairy products,” said James Robson, Chief Executive Officer of WMMB. “His strategic planning and ability to analyze key dairy markets benefit the entire channel management team.”
Robson noted that Pullin’s strong leadership skills and business acumen have earned him multiple promotions, since joining WMMB in 2009.
Pullin is no stranger to the dairy industry. Before joining WMMB, he was national territory manager for Wisconsin Cheese Group, national account executive for Mexican Cheese Producers, Inc., both Monroe, Wisconsin-based cheese companies, and assistant store manager for SUPERVALU.
Amy’s Kitchen is sponsoring Farm Aid’s annual benefit concert on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, North Carolina. Amy’s, a family-run company, will offer delicious food at Farm Aid’s HOMEGROWN Concessions® stands, as well as provide meals for the artists and backstage crew at this signature music concert. This is Amy’s third year as a Farm Aid sponsor.
In celebration of this partnership, Amy’s is offering a special Farm Aid sweepstakes. One lucky winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the show. Details of the contest are at http://www.amys.com/farmaid. Amy’s is also sponsoring a free live stream of the concert so that everyone can enjoy the show. The webcast will be available at http://farmaid.org.
Farm Aid 2014 will feature Willie Nelson and fellow board members John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews — with Tim Reynolds — as well as Jack White, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jamey Johnson, North Carolina’s own Delta Rae, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Carlene Carter, Pegi Young & The Survivors, and Insects vs Robots.
“Amy’s has been committed to supporting family farmers, organic agriculture and labeling for all genetically engineered ingredients since its founding more than 25 years ago,” says Co-founder Andy Berliner. “Our vision and Farm Aid’s vision are closely aligned, and we’re confident that, together, we’ll continue to move the food industry in the right direction.”
Though foodservice will account for roughly three-fourths of the projected $48 billion in sales for the U.S. coffee industry in 2014, the retail segment is finding new ways to reach consumers and compete with the restaurant industry for market share. A driving trend in retail coffee innovation and marketing is bringing the coffee shop experience into the consumers’ homes, according to Coffee and Ready-to-Drink Coffee in the U.S.: Retail and Foodservice, 8th Edition, a report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.
A key factor in giving consumers a coffee shop experience at home involves bringing favorite coffeehouse and bakery brands into the retail sector. This type of co-branding is effective in garnering instant brand loyalty and recognition—a defining factor in a crowded market. For example, leading fast casual restaurant operator Panera Bread capitalized on its strong following with the brunch/lunch crowd to push its Panera Bread Bakery Blends brand, which offers a variety of flavored ground coffees and is positioned as a premium retail coffee product. Likewise, leading baked goods and coffee chain Dunkin Donuts has capitalized on its success in the coffee category to expand into the retail sector. Meanwhile, Caribou Coffee has made its signature brews available within the retail sector, in addition to providing products to foodservice providers such as hotels, entertainment venues, and e-commerce channels. Even fast food juggernaut McDonalds revealed plans to enter the fray through its McCafé-branded packaged coffees (in whole bean, ground coffee, and single-cup offerings).
On a grander scale, co-branding of retail coffee goes beyond coffee shop brands to align with other indulgent brand. The bold, rich flavor of coffee provides a natural balance to indulgent sweet notes—making partnerships with decadent, palette-pleasing brands a natural fit. Such partnerships create brand recognition and cross-merchandising opportunities, notes Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle. As recently as February 2014, major moves such as doughnut company Krispy Kreme’s launch of ready-to-drink coffee beverages at more than 900 Walmart locations rippled across the retail landscape. Other recognizable foodservice brands—Godiva, Entenmann’s, Cold Stone Creamery—have capitalized on their reputations to launch retail coffee products with flavor-rich, decadent, and even premium positioning.
Building off coffeehouse expectations for a wide variety of options, retail coffee manufacturers are also embracing variety. Limited edition offerings or seasonal flavors are an easy way to satisfy the need for variety and keep consumers engaged with the brand.
Rustic Crust, a manufacturer of organic and all-natural pizza crust and sauce, today honored the New Hampshire Police, Fire & EMS Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to supporting firefighters, police officers and emergency medical service personnel, for its statewide contributions. The event coincided with the ground-breaking of a new Rustic Crust and American Flatbread frozen pizza facility soon to be erected on the site of its former factory in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, which burned to the ground earlier this year. The new two-story 27,000 square-foot facility, 30 percent larger than the original structure, will be in operation this fall. After the fire, Rustic Crust’s President and CEO Brad Sterl kept more than 100 workers on payroll while he began to rebuild the company.
Sterl and Governor Maggie Hassan recognized first responders as unsung heroes who risk their lives daily to protect the communities they serve, just as they did during the company’s devastating fire. The event marks the start of a national campaign, The Rustic Crust First Responders Recognition program, to support and acknowledge these service workers across the nation. In New Hampshire and in states across the U.S., Rustic Crust and American Flatbread frozen pizzas will donate product to state first responder organizations assisting with fundraisers and other events. The company will also continue to send its mobile pizza truck to natural disaster sites to feed fatigued workers.
“As a result of the fire at our production facility, we know firsthand the courage and sacrifice displayed by first responders,” Sterl said. “We are launching this national program to honor the extraordinary work of these brave men and women – fire, police, and emergency rescue people – in their times of need.”
Rustic Crust was founded in 1996 and is the number one U.S. national brand of natural prepared, ready-made pizza crusts. American Flatbread is a market leader in natural frozen flatbread pizzas which are available in supermarkets, health and gourmet stores nationwide. The company is Pittsfield, New Hampshire’s second largest employer.
Sartori Cheese is excited to announce a fourth year partnership with Mason Crosby and the Packers Radio Network to support the Wisconsin Make-A-Wish Foundation during the 2014 NFL season. Sartori will contribute $1,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for every field goal Crosby makes during the 2014 football season including pre- and postseason. To date, Sartori has donated over $60,000 to Make-A-Wish Wisconsin.
“We are excited to start this partnership again for the 2014 season. Both Mason and the Packers Radio Network have been great to work with. It’s important for those who are fortunate enough to give back, to do so. We have close ties with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and support what they do for children with life-threatening medical conditions. We’re able to help a child’s dream come true and that is bigger than any of us,” stated Sartori CEO and Owner Jim Sartori.
Last year alone, Sartori contributed $42,000 to the Make-A-Wish Wisconsin Foundation. Mason Crosby had a stand-out 2013 football season, successfully completing 39 field goals in the pre- and regular season and an additional 2 successful conversions in the postseason. Sartori increased their contribution to $1,500 for each completed field goal in the postseason.
Sartori Cheese will have weekly updates on the contribution amount via its Facebook and Twitter social sites. The company will also be hosting giveaways and special offers during the entire 2014 football season.
The Wisconsin Make-A-Wish Foundation is an organization dedicated to granting the wishes of seriously ill children. Since the Wisconsin chapter founding in 1984, nearly 5,000 children and their families throughout the state have experienced the transformative power of a wish. Last year alone, Make-A-Wish Wisconsin granted a record-breaking 340 wishes. The charity is near and dear to Jim Sartori and his wife Jan, as their family has been involved in donations and fundraising for years.
Land O’Lakes, Inc. donated 40,000 pounds of LAND O LAKES® Macaroni & Cheese to the Food Lifeline.
This is the Land O’Lakes First Run Program’s 74th donation since it was established in 2010. The program is committed to donating truckloads of fresh product year round, made specifically for food banks to help alleviate hunger nationwide. As part of the First Run Program, Land O’Lakes has donated more than 2.8 million pounds of product.
“Food Lifeline provides 30 percent of the meals being served by food banks, meal programs and shelters across western Washington,” said Food Lifeline President and CEO Linda Nageotte. “So donations like this mac & cheese make a huge difference in stopping hunger.”
“As a national, farmer-owned cooperative, Land O’Lakes is committed to help the growing number of people who struggle to put food on their table,” said Land O’Lakes Foundation Executive Director Lydia Botham. “The First Run Program provides a unique opportunity for Land O’Lakes to provide a fresh, nutritious product to families that can enjoy it.”
The First Run Program is part of Land O’Lakes’ Feeding Our Communities initiative. For more information on any of these programs, visit the Land O’Lakes Foundation web page at www.landolakesinc.com.