News Briefs


Honest Tea Co-Founders Spurred To Enter RTD With Eat the Change

tea bottles

The co-founders of Honest tea intend to fill the gap exposed by the brand’s upcoming discontinuation.

The Coca-Cola Company announced last month it will phase out the Honest brand by the end of this year in order to focus on brands with more growth potential, including the Gold Peak and Peace Tea brands.

Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff, who founded Honest in 1998 and now lead healthy snack startup Eat the Change, announced they will bring a line of organic bottled tea to market by the end of this year under their new venture. Joining with chef Spike Mendelsohn, the group intends to enlist many of the same key team members who launched Honest Tea.

[See also: Goldman on CPG Innovation]

Goldman, who had called the discontinuation a “gut punch” on social media, said in a statement that the overwhelming response on LinkedIn have demonstrated several things: “The first is a true commitment to the values underlying Honest Tea really counts – it makes a difference to our consumers, our suppliers, our employees and our partners in the natural foods world,” he said. “The second learning is that the community of people who Honest Tea touched and inspired was even larger, and more passionate, than we hoped.”

Adding that organic and Fair Trade suppliers deserve better treatment, Goldman said the upcoming line will be both organic and Fair Trade certified.


RangeMe Launches Deal Days and Educational Content Series


Product discovery platform RangeMe is launching Deal Days, specific periods throughout the year during which retail buyers can commit to wholesale purchases at discounted rates. 

The experience kicks off with RangeMe Deal Days: Summer Savings, which will take place from August 1 to 5 across the food and beverage, foodservice, health and beauty, pet, baby, housewares, and cleaning categories. 

Additionally, RangeMe will also be showcasing educational content, such as a series of webinars for suppliers that features best practices for building their digital storefronts and fulfilling purchase orders. NielsenIQ will also present a live webinar for brands that will highlight the biggest trends across the categories represented. 

“Independent retailers are always looking to differentiate themselves with unique product assortments. In addition, we are always pressed for time, so having the ability to browse through what’s available to order on RangeMe is an extremely efficient way to source and purchase new products,” said Joseph Quarto, owner of fair-trade retailer Amistad.

Rebecca Styn, co-founder of Blind Tiger Spirit-Free Cocktail, stated that Deal Days is a great way to gain exposure to and business from the many independent and regional retailers they would not normally have access to. 

“Setting up my digital storefront was extremely easy, and we received a retail order of several cases shortly afterward,” added Styn. 


PepsiCo, Unilever, Mondelēz Pilot Instacart Shoppable Ads

a close up of a sign

Mondelēz International, Unilever, and PepsiCo are among the CPGs signing on for Instacart’s new shoppable video and display ad technology.

The ads seek to shorten the user journey from awareness and product discovery to purchase; fuel brand affinity with rich stories, motion, and audio; and prompt larger basket sizes through an add-to-cart functionality

Several consumer goods companies are piloting the tech, including Unilever’s Dove brand, Mondelēz International, PepsiCo, and S.Pellegrino. Throughout the pilot, Instacart will test and learn alongside the brands to determine best practices and inform what the shoppable video product looks like when it becomes available to all brands in its self-service portal, Ads Manager, later this year.

[See also: Ben & Jerry's, Breyers and More Sign On for Instacart’s New Ad Tech]

Likewise, Instacart’s iterative, shoppable display product features brand imagery coupled with direct add-to-cart functionality, and brands can pin a bundle of items to drive complementary and routine purchases.

More than 40 CPG brands have piloted the shoppable display product, which will be generally available to all brand partners in Ads Manager later this summer.

PepsiCo will trial multiple brands, and Emily Frankel, senior VP, e-commerce marketing head at PepsiCo, said shoppable display has proven to be an effective way to drive first-time purchase of the products via the Instacart platform. “While we're just getting started with shoppable video, we look forward to continuing our work to give consumers a compelling omnichannel experience."

“Online grocery shopping is critical to our long-term growth strategy, and we are excited to create a richer experience for our consumers as they shop for our beloved brands,” added Wesley Saraceni, senior director of marketing digital commerce at Mondelēz.


Bolthouse Farms Acquires Evolution Fresh from Starbucks

bolthouse farms

Bolthouse Farms will acquire the Evolution Fresh brand from Starbucks.

Evolution Fresh is a producer of primarily organic, cold-pressed, premium juice products, and Bolthouse Farms expects to accelerate its growth trajectory. This includes expanding its beverage offerings from plant-based juices and smoothies to include a lineup of primarily organic cold-pressed, premium juices.

Starbucks, in turn, will focus its efforts on the growth of the core Starbucks business and its partner and customer experience, according to a statement, with its U.S. stores continuing to sell Evolution Fresh products.

[See also: Inside Starbucks’ Transformation]

“Evolution Fresh has grown steadily over the last several years as a result of our partners’ hard work and commitment to the brand. We feel there is a great runway and opportunity to take Evolution Fresh to the next level, and Bolthouse Farms’ considerable experience and success in the premium beverage category will allow the brand to continue growing,” said Hans Melotte, Starbucks EVP, global channel development. “Bolthouse Farms shares the same values and commitment to putting people first in everything they do, which affirms for us that we have found the right opportunity for Evolution Fresh.”

Jeff Dunn, chairman and CEO of Bolthouse Farms, called Evolution Fresh a natural extension to its portfolio. “By bringing Evolution Fresh into our portfolio, we will extend our spirit of ingenuity and innovation, sharing resources and passion for high-quality, nutrient-dense juices to pioneer solutions for today’s food system.”

Bolthouse Farms is owned by private-equity firm Butterfly, which also owns such brands as Chosen Foods, MaryRuth Organics, Orgain, and Pete and Gerry’s Organics.

Financial terms of the deal, expected to close later this year, weren’t disclosed.


J&J Snack Foods Picks Up Dippin’ Dots

dippin dots

J&J Snack Foods will acquire Dippin’ Dots for $222 million in a bid to increase its scale.

Dan Fachner, CEO and president of J&J Snack Foods, noted that the ice cream company aligns with its own portfolio of frozen novelty and frozen beverage businesses, which includes such brands as Icee, Slush Puppie, and Luigi’s Real Italian Ice.

“With this acquisition, we can further leverage our combined strength in entertainment and amusement locations, theaters, convenience, and supermarkets to realize added scale, operational and go-to-market synergies and create new selling opportunities among an expanded customer base,” he added.

[See more innovation in the ice cream business.]

Headquartered in Paducah, KY, Dippin’ Dots sells through retail, theme parks, stadium and more, as well as through a franchise network with more than 140 franchisees. The sale will include its main production facility, warehousing, distribution, and administrative offices. The company also leases four additional frozen warehouses in California, Canada, Australia, and China.

J&J, which operates around 20 manufacturing facilities of its own and generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, will also lend its marketing and product innovation capabilities to expand Dippin’ Dots distribution into new markets, as well as implement operating efficiencies.

The deal is expected to close by the end of June.


General Mills Bags TNT Crust

a statue in a park

General Mills is beefing up its away-from-home portfolio with the acquisition of TNT Crust, a manufacturer of frozen pizza crusts for retailers, foodservice distributors, and restaurants.

TNT Crust is currently a portfolio company of Peak Rock Capital, and its products are expected to be complementary to General Mills’ existing frozen baked goods portfolio. Its net sales were around $100 million in 2021.

Shawn O’Grady, group president of North America foodservice at General Mills, said the deal will help the company further scale in a category that’s currently trending with consumers and expected to grow rapidly.

[See also: How General Mills Is Extending its Data & Analytics Prowess]

As part of the acquisition, General Mills will also acquire two manufacturing facilities in Green Bay, WI, and one in St. Charles, MO.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal 2023. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

General Mills is the No. 33 publicly owned consumer goods company. It includes such brands as Cheerios, Nature Valley, Blue Buffalo, Häagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Annie’s, Wanchai Ferry and Yoki in its portfolio.