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Meijer adds bulk groceries to its list of online shopping items

BY Jenna Duncan

HOLLAND, Mich. Meijer grocery chain has announced the start of its Grocery By The Case bulk shopping program online.

More than 2,000 dry goods and groceries have been added to the Web site and free delivery is offered for orders over $150, the company has said.

Meijer said it is expanding its bulk offerings to better compete with bulk chain stores, such as Costco and Sam’s Club. It will offer a special discounted delivery charge to elderly customers every other Friday for $3.

Online grocery shopping at Meijer is available at www.meijer.com.

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Mars releases laundry list of candy, salty snacks, chocolate bar launches

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO Mars Snackfood this week at the National Association of Convenience Stores Show at McCormick Place has announced a lineup of snack products to be launched this fall and winter.

Mars has announced the upcoming launches of spicy jalapeno cheddar tortilla-flavored Combos.  For the candy category, Mars will be releasing Dove Promises Changemakers bite-sized milk chocolate and rich dark chocolate candies. Dove is also extending its line with Dove Chocolate Large Bars in flavors creamy cappuccino and mandarin orange. New Snickers Fun-Size Changemakers, with caramel, milk chocolate nougat and nougat will also hit shelves by the winter season.

In the sugar-candy category, Mars adds Skittles Crazy Cores, Starburst FaveReds flavored like cherry, fruit punch, strawberry and watermelon and Starburst Sour Gummibursts with flavors green apple, watermelon, strawberry and orange tangerine.

To boost sales of its wide variety of chocolates and snack products, Mars has a number of promotions lined up for fall and winter. M&M’s will get special packaging featuring Ms. Green, the alluring, romantic, female M&M character, in time for Valentine’s Day.And for the Super Bowl, Snickers will get special packaging treatment, along with tie-ins to a fantasy sweepstakes game which will award 17 trips to the Super Bowl, as well as chances for several secondary prizes. Mars has also announced that 3 Musketeers candy bars will be the official candy bars of the Times Square New Year’s Eve 2008 celebration and will get special treatment on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve celebration show.

Though times are tough in the current cash-poor consumer economy, items such as candy are still seeing strong sales, Mars said. For example, data released by market research firm Information Resources Inc. showed that chocolate sales in convenience sales were up 4.1 percent for the 52-week period ended Aug. 10. Mars Snackfood said that sales of its chocolate candies increased 9.1 percent for the same time in that channel.

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Coke announces distribution deal with Monster energy drink

BY Melissa Valliant

ATLANTA The Coca-Cola Company decided Monday to take a bite (or a gulp, rather) out of Hansen Natural Corporation’s Monster Energy drink brand. Though many predicted Coke would take an equity stake in the company, it instead agreed on a long-term distribution deal that includes Canada, six Western European countries and about half of the United States.

It’s no wonder Coke is reaching out for help, considering it’s own energy drink brand—Full Throttle—showed an 11 percent drop in traded shares in the first half of the year. Energy drink sales are higher than that of many beverage types, but consumers are replacing the major energy drink labels for independent ones. Only Red Bull surpasses Monster’s current sales, and Brandweek named Monster Energy one of its 2007 Marketers of the Year. Rockstar, with whom Coke has already made a similar deal, joins the two brands as the most popular in the energy drink segment but has showed a 0.3 percent volume drop.

“We do believe that CCE is better off with having a growing brand [Monster] in 50 percent of the U.S. versus having a declining brand [Rockstar] in 100 percent of the United States. We also believe that down the road the Coke system could potentially pick up the balance of the United States,” said Morgan Stanley analyst William Pecoriello.

Anheuser-Busch will be distributing Monster throughout areas not included in Coke’s deal.

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