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  • Express Checkout #42 - the latest in CPG, Retail, and eComm

Express Checkout #42 - the latest in CPG, Retail, and eComm

Commerce and CPG news from the week of 9/11/2023

Hello hello from San Diego!

Who is going to ExpoEast this week? Excited to catch up with many of you! If you want to walk around the show floor with me please reach out!

🎉 Party time! The Consumer Council (Zehra Naqvi, Johnnie Yu, and myself) are hosting a NYC #TechWeek event on October 16th!

We found a SICK space, got Michelin Star sushi chefs, and a HUGE swag bag of cool CPG products!!

(we still have some sponsorship spots, so please reach out if interested!)

RSVP here

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(If you’re reading this email in gmail it might get clipped! You can always view full issues here.)

🔥 Big News - 10 items or less 🔥

  • Hostess Acquired - J.M. Smucker is acquiring Hostess Brands, known for the apocalypse-proof Twinkies, for a staggering $5.6 billion. Hostess, which has faced bankruptcy twice in the past, will now be part of the leading snacking conglomerate. Smuckers outbid competitors such as PepsiCo, Mondelez International, and General Mills to secure the deal. (source)

  • TikTok Shop Launched - TikTok has officially launched TikTok Shop, allowing users to purchase products directly through the app. The program includes features such as tagging products in-feed and during live videos, a dedicated shop tab, shoppable ads, and an affiliate program. If anyone is going to change how we shop, it’s TikTok. (source)

  • Supply Chain by Amazon - Amazon is introducing a new way for sellers to reduce the complexity of their supply chain logistics by leveraging Amazon's services. This applies to products sold both on and off Amazon's platform. They ingeniously named this new offering, Supply Chain by Amazon. Wow, amazing. Amazon will handle global inventory pickup, cross-border shipping, customs clearance, ground transportation, bulk inventory storage, replenishment management across Amazon and other sales channels, and direct customer delivery. (source)

    • Has anyone reading this used this service? I’d love to learn more from Amazon sellers!

  • Bacardi buys ILEGAL Mezcal - Bacardi Limited has acquired ILEGAL Mezcal, a leading artisanal mezcal brand in the U.S. The transaction follows a partnership between the two companies since 2015. Bacardi aims to accelerate brand growth within the fast-growing super-premium mezcal category, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16% over the next 5 years. (source)

  • Counterfeit goods seized in NY - Police in New York City seized $35 million worth of counterfeit designer goods in Chinatown, resulting in 18 arrests. The raid followed numerous complaints from the community and business owners. (source)

  • The Kellogg Breakup - The board of directors of Kellogg Co. has approved the separation of the company into two independent, publicly traded companies: Kellanova and WK Kellogg Co. The separation is scheduled to be completed on October 2. Kellanova will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "K," while WK Kellogg Co. will begin trading under the ticker symbol "KLG." Net sales projections for Kellanova and WK Kellogg Co. in 2024 are $13.4 billion to $13.6 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively. (source)

  • The Big Brown Bag turns 50 - Bloomingdale's celebrates the 50th anniversary of its iconic Big Brown Bag with a pop-up shop, exclusive collaborations, and events. The bag has become a globally recognized and iconic calling card and an incredible branding tool for Bloomingdale's. (source)

🗞️ News from the week (9/11/23 - 9/17/23)

🛍 Retail News

  • A French grocery chain Carrefour has started labeling products that have recently shrunk in size but increased in price, in an effort to pressure suppliers to reconsider their pricing policy. The "shrinkflation" warning stickers have been added to various products, including Lipton Iced Tea, Pepsi and Lindt chocolates. (source)

  • American Eagle has filed a lawsuit against Westfield San Francisco Centre, accusing the mall of neglect and turning a blind eye to criminal activity. (source)

  • Target Corporation and Kendra Scott have announced a long-term strategic partnership to offer an exclusive collection which will be available on Target.com and select Target stores. (source)

  • Craft retailer Joann has undergone a corporate restructuring, eliminating some positions across various departments. Joann is implementing cost-saving measures and aims to reduce supply chain and corporate costs by $200 million. The company is also facing potential delisting from Nasdaq due to non-compliance with listing requirements. (source)

  • Best Buy Health and Geisinger are expanding their partnership for chronic disease management at home. In 2022, Best Buy Health and Geisinger initiated a program where specially trained Geek Squad Agents are deployed to deliver, install, and activate remote care management devices. (source)

  • Mejuri, a DTC jewelry brand, has launched a new app and loyalty program called Mejuri+. The program offers exclusive product drops, priority sale access, free shipping, and a birthday gift. The brand also plans to open five new brick-and-mortar stores by the end of the year. Mejuri has experienced significant growth since its founding in 2015. (source)

  • Uber Eats has partnered with The Save Mart Companies and The Fresh Market for grocery delivery services. This collaboration allows Uber to serve over 190 Save Mart, Lucky, and FoodMaxx stores in California and Nevada, as well as all 161 locations of The Fresh Market along the East Coast. (source)

  • Grabango, a frictionless checkout provider, has laid off employees across its marketing, engineering, and sales departments. (source)

  • Albertsons has launched its Flash grocery service, allowing customers to receive their DriveUp & Go™ and delivery orders in as little as 30 minutes. (source)

  • Goodwill Industries has partnered with Accelerating Circularity to transform unsellable textile donations into recycling feedstock. The Walmart Foundation has awarded Goodwill a $1.2 million grant to fund the project. (source)

🛒 CPG & Consumer News

  • SOMOS foods is launching in over 1,800 Target locations nationwide with two exclusive Burrito Bowl Kits. In addition to the Burrito Bowl Kits, SOMOS will also offer several other products, including rices, beans, veggie sides, and Salsa Macha. (source)

  • Nguyen Coffee Supply has announced major expansion plans. It will now be available in all 44 states where Whole Foods Market is located, making it the first Vietnamese Ready-to-Drink coffee to be nationally available with a retailer. (source)

  • Canopy Growth, a massive Canadian pot producer, announced that it will seek bankruptcy protection for its sports nutrition products segment, BioSteel, in an effort to reduce costs. (source)

  • Kraft Heinz has introduced a microwavable grilled cheese sandwich called Lunchables Grilled Cheesies. (source)

  • Alt-protein company Pureture has developed a plant-based casein product that aims to replicate animal-based casein's creamy texture and nutritional properties. Unlike its competitors, Pureture's product is non-GMO and sourced from yeast protein. (source)

  • Employees of Anchor Brewing Company have raised over $90,000 to buy back the brewery as an employee-owned co-op. (source)

  • Shoe seller HeyDude has reached a $1.95 million settlement with the FTC over allegations of suppressing negative product reviews and violating online ordering rules. The FTC stated that HeyDude kept more than 80% of reviews with ratings below four stars off its website. The company also allegedly violated the FTC's rules by offering gift cards instead of cash refunds. (source)

  • Dr. Squatch, a men's personal care brand, has entered the razor category with the launch of its first safety razor in partnership with Henson Shaving. (source)

  • Bondi Sands, a growing tanning brand acquired by Kao in August, is expanding its presence by launching its products in Walmart stores and on Walmart.com. (source)

  • Diesel (as in Diesel Jeans) has won an $11.8 million trademark dispute against reality TV stars Dave Sparks and Dave Kiley. (source)

💻️ eCommerce 

  • I made this beautiful QR code using the newly launched Brij Designer QR Code Generator! Congrats Kait and team on the launch! What do you think? Try it out here: brij.to

  • eBay is launching a new consignment service to compete with peer-to-peer marketplaces like ThredUp and The RealReal. (source)

  • Wedding registry platform Zola has launched a new app called Zola Baby that offers a hand-picked selection of baby gear, as well as the ability to register for services and experiences. (source)

  • Walmart Connect is launching sponsored video ads on its retail media network to enhance brand-building and drive in-the-moment purchases. The new format will appear in search results. (source)

  • Yotpo has released its integration with TikTok Shop, becoming the first reviews provider to do so. (source)

🏭 Supply Chain & Distribution News

  • Macy's has joined the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, a cotton sustainability program, as part of its preferred material sourcing strategy. (source)

  • Flexport has launched a self-service, AI-driven global trade solution aimed at democratizing the supply chain for entrepreneurs. The solution provides instant access to financing, freight, fulfillment, and replenishment. Flexport also offers a membership program called Flexport+ that provides additional benefits such as special financing. (source)

  • American Eagle Outfitters has implemented an AI-based tool for inventory management. (source)

  • UPS Capital, the financial services arm of UPS, has introduced a program called DeliveryDefense to help merchants reduce the risk of package theft, pilferage, and damage. (source)

  • SmartKargo expands its next- and two-day delivery options by partnering with Walmart GoLocal. The company provides airlines and small package shippers with a technology platform to leverage the speed of airlines for efficient shipping and delivery. (source)

  • Pacsun has partnered with Cart.com to streamline its U.S. fulfillment operations. Additionally, Pacsun will transfer ownership of its Groveport, Ohio, fulfillment facility to Cart.com, which adds to Cart.com's growing network of omnichannel fulfillment centers. (source)

  • The USDA has raised its forecast for the 2023 corn crop despite a lower yield estimate. (source)

💸 Funding news

  • Just 20 months post-launch, GOODLES, a noodle brand known for its modern line of boxed mac & cheese, has raised $13 million in a Series A funding round led by L Catterton. (source)

  • Proven, a customized beauty company, has raised $12.2 million in a Series A funding round led by NewH2 Ventures. The company operates two brands: Proven Skincare, an AI-powered personalized skincare brand, and Noteworthy, a personalized fragrance line. Proven is on track to generate over $35 million in revenue in 2023. (source)

  • Japanese snack startup Bokksu has announced its acquisition of competitor Japan Crate. Bokksu aims to expand its retail distribution through this acquisition, as Japan Crate sells through over 5,000 locations. (source)

  • Brooklyn Brewery has partnered with and invested in Hoplark, a craft non-alcoholic beverage brand. Brooklyn Brewery will provide warehousing and logistics support. (source)

  • Health-Ade Kombucha has partnered with and received investment from iHeartMedia to bring kombucha to a wider audience in America. This collaboration includes voiceover ads by Ryan Seacrest and the opportunity for lucky winners to attend the iHeartRadio Music Festival. (source)

  • The Estée Lauder Companies has made a minority investment in Chinese beauty startup Code Mint, marking its first investment in a Chinese beauty brand. (source)

  • The Bettering Company, a cannabis edibles brand, has raised $6.7 million in funding from various investors, including RXBAR co-founder Peter Rahal, bringing its total funding to $11 million. (source)

  • Molson Coors is increasing its investment in ZOA Energy, the energy drink co-founded by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. ZOA, reported over $100 million in sales in 2022. (source)

  • Splash Beverage Group, Inc. is acquiring JEM Beverage Management Company, LLC, the owner of Western Son Vodka. The terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. (source)

  • InvestBev, a division of Growth Beverage, has announced a $1 million investment in Ten to One Rum. (source)

  • Parade, a capacity management platform for freight brokers, has raised $17 million in funding led by I Squared Capital with participation from Menlo Ventures, Greenhawk Capital, Jones Capital, The House Fund, Operator Stack, and more. Parade's software platform helps freight brokers manage relationships, increase truckload capacity, and optimize carrier selection. (source)

  • GXO Logistics has acquired PFSweb, a multinational provider of luxury goods fulfillment services, in a $181 million all-cash deal. PFSweb specializes in fulfillment for high-end health and beauty, collectibles, and jewelry brands. (source)

  • Consortium Brand Partners has acquired a 70% majority ownership stake in Draper James, the fashion and lifestyle brand founded by Reese Witherspoon. (source)

  • Italian multinational company Illva Saronno Holding has acquired a majority stake in Sagamore Spirit, a rye whiskey distillery based in Baltimore, Maryland. (source)

  • Toopi Organics, a French startup, has raised $17.2 million for its urine-based (yes, that’s right) biostimulants business for agriculture. The funding will be used to expand the urine collection network, launch new products, and build industrial sites. (source)

  • London-based e-commerce software startup Shop Circle has raised $120 million in Series A funding. Shop Circle offers a suite of tools including everything from referral programs to restock alerts to a mobile app builder. (source)

  • Birkenstock has officially filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, with a potential valuation exceeding $8 billion. The IPO follows a period of impressive revenue growth, with the company disclosing approximately $1.3 billion in revenue in 2022. (source)

🧐 Interesting reads

💡 Data, reports, and trends

😋 Brands and things I’ve tried this week

This week I saw Tally Kids, a CPG brand I invested in through the FirstLook VC syndicate I co-lead with Brian Folmer and Austin Eastman! Tally Kids is delicious plant-based milk made from chickpeas, free from the top 9 allergens, fortified with 21 essential vitamins and minerals, no added sugar, packed with Omega-3, is a good source of fiber, and has been approved as a milk substitute by the USDA. It’s also kids approved, the family I’m staying with have 2 children who loved it!!

(they’re still raising if anyone wants an intro!)

Thanks for reading! If you have any suggestions, feedback, or stories I missed, let me know!

Nate :)

Got news to share? Let me know!

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