Express Checkout #9

Commerce news from the week of 1/16/2023


This past week was really busy for some of you! I hope my retail friends had a good time at NRF 2023 in New York. It was great seeing some of you at the Archetypes Journal pop-up by Future Commerce x Industry West!

And I hope my CPG friends had an amazing time at Winter Fancy Food show in Vegas! I heard there were some interesting treats and innovation happening there 👀

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Oh, before I forget, make sure you enter to win Mountain Dew's new Baja Blast Hot Sauce...and yes you read that right!

🔥 Big News of the week 🔥

  • Amazon is shutting down its philanthropic Smile program after running it for a decade. (source)

  • Flo Rida has been awarded $82 million from his lawsuit against Celsius energy drink over owed money from a past endorsement deal. (source)

  • Party City has officially filed for bankruptcy and has also secured $150 million in financing to keep operations running for the time being. (source)

  • Diageo is acquiring Don Papa Rum for around $250 million. (source)

  • Nest Co-founder, Matt Rogers, has just launched his new startup called Mill. They make a smart trash can that reduces food waste into basically dirt. The company charges $33/mo and will take the scraps and reuse it as animal feed. All a bit excessive and expensive if you ask me…but glad people are trying to tackle food waste reduction (source)

  • Fat Tire has introduced new branding and a new formulation for the three decade old beer. Which one do you like the best? (source)

🗞️ News from the week (1/16 - 1/22)

🛍 Retail

  • Wakefern Food Corp (who owns grocers like ShopRite) opened a convenience store at its NJ campus to test out Trigo's frictionless checkout tech. They are the first US company to use the tech; it's already in use across Europe and the UK at retailers like Tesco. Last year, Trigo raised $100M in funding. (source)

  • Sephora has partnered with skin-care brand Proven to bring personalization to its customers across its brick-and-mortar and digital experiences. (source)

  • Nutrafol is now available at 80 Sephora locations. The hair care brand was acquired by Unilever in late 2022 for an undisclosed amount. (source)

  • Danish distiller, Empirical, is set to open its first US distillery in summer 2023 in Brooklyn! It will also serve as their new HQ and they will close down their Copenhagen site in June 2023. (source)

  • Google Cloud is rolling out AI technology that will allow retailers to use images to track inventory on shelf. (source)

  • In a big step towards moving the Kroger x Albertsons merger forward, Washington State’s Supreme Court will allow Albertsons to pay a $4 billion dividend. (source)

🛒 CPG & Consumer

  • EatJust is starting to scale up production of its new cultured meat products as they gained regulatory approval from the Singapore Food Agency. (source)

  • A rabbi in Israel has ruled that Aleph Farms cultivated steaks and meats can be kosher. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau wrote up an 11-page ruling after he visited Aleph Farms facilities in Rehovot, Israel. Note that this is not a certification but lays the groundwork for one. (source)

  • Tilray Brands, a public pharmaceutical, cannabis and beverage producer, is seeking to expand further into beer and spirits as they don't see cannabis legalization taking hold in the US any time soon. For example, in Nov '22, Tilray acquired Montauk Brewing. (source)

  • John Legend released Loved01, a unisex skincare line designed with Dr. Naana Boakye for melanin-rich skin. They worked with A-Frame, an LA based company that helps celebrities develop personal care brands. (source)

  • Alamance Foods has released a new dairy-free whipped cream alternative called Whipt. They have three varieties with three different bases - Oat, Almond, and Coconut. (source)

  • The Agriculture Department has issued new requirements for foods labeled organic. The rule strengthens the enforcement of the USDA’s new stricter definition of organic. (source)

  • Madhappy has partnered with UGG to release mini boots in 5 colorways. (source)

  • Thinx has reached a settlement in its class action lawsuit against them. The company claimed that their products were “organic, sustainable, and non-toxic” yet third-party testing alleged they actually contained PFAS. The settlement website is now live. (source)

  • Plant-based menus are on the rise. LinkedIn, in partnership with their foodservice provider Sodexo, has shifted to a 65% plant-based menu in its SF offices to support their goal of cutting carbon emissions. (source)

  • Alland & Robert, experts in natural gums, have released a new vegan texturing agent called Syndeo® Gelling. This will be a great substitute for any brands using animal-based gelatin in the production of candy, gummies, marshmallows, and other similar products. Supposedly this new innovation is a big deal because it mimics the texture and elasticity of traditional animal-based gelatin. (source)

  • Jason Momoa has created a new vodka brand called Meili Vodka with co-founder Blaine Halvorson, founder of Junk Food Clothing. Momoa is not new to the beverage space - he is also the founder of Mananalu bottled water. (source)

  • Spirits giant, Sazerac, has filed a lawsuit against its former distributor RNDC for $38.6M in unpaid invoices. Sazerac recently made the transition from RNDC to several regional beer wholesalers. (source)

🏭 Supply Chain

  • Amazon has just announced a new FBA capacity management system, with 4 new features (source)

    • A single, month-long FBA capacity limit

    • Estimated capacity limits to help sellers plan three months in advance

    • The opportunity to request a higher limit

  • Breakthru Beverage Group has announced that is acquiring Wine Warehouse to majorly expand their west coast distribution footprint. (source)

  • Walmart is expanding its Fleet Development program, enabling more associates in stores, distribution, and fulfillment centers to become licensed commercial drivers for their private fleet. The program trains associates over a 12-week period and pays them. (source)

  • Supply Chain Dive has broken down key supply chain conferences to attend in 2023 (source)

💻 eCommerce

  • Another legacy clothing retailer launches resale on their site. J. Crew has partnered with ThreadUp to launch their first resale program! (source)

  • Retextion has rebranded to Stay Ai as they look beyond subscription enablement to offer a full array of retention marketing tools. Brands like Aura Bora, Momofuku, Vita Coco, and Olipop use Stay Ai. (source)

💸 Funding, Exits, M&A, and VC

  • Guayakí, producer of yerba mate products, has raised $75 million in funding. (source)

  • Sensible Hot Dogs raised around $12 million to take on Hebrew National with its new plant-based hot dog. (source)

  • Thirteen lune has announced an $8 million seed-plus investment round with participation from The BrainTrust Fund to continue driving omnichannel expansion. The brand plans to expand into 600 JCPenny locations throughout 2023. (source)

  • Makeup By Mario has closed a $40 million minority growth investment from Provenance and Silas Capital with plans to expand its DTC business as well as its push into Sephora nationwide as it approaches $100M in sales this year. (source)

  • Astara Capital Partners has made an investment in Wyandot Snacks, a 85 year old Ohio-based co-manufacturer of snacks, cereals, and other better-for you food. (source)

  • Sophia Amoruso, creator of Nasty Gal and Girlboss, has launched her own venture firm called “Trust Fund” (honestly a really funny name). She’s launching with a $5 million target and will write checks between $50K and $150k. Notable investors like Paris Hilton, Ryan Hoover, Marc Andreessen have put in checks. (source)

  • JPG Resources, a Brooklyn-based food and beverage innovation firm, has acquired the R&D arm of RodeoCPG, a CPG service agency for supporting brands at retail. (source)

  • Evigence has raised a $18 million Series B round led by Cleveland Avenue. The foodtech company makes sensors to monitor and analyze perishable food to maintain freshness in real time. (source)

  • A new Combos competitor is entering the market. Rivalz, a new snack startup, has just closed an undisclosed amount of fresh funding from The March Group and other private investors. (source)

  • Hella Cocktail co has received investment from Pronghorn, a Diageo-backed incubator and accelerator which backs Black-owned spirits brands. (source)

🧐 Interesting reads

💡 Reports, research, and trends

🐦 Interesting Tweets

Thanks for reading! I'll be back next week with more commerce news straight to your inbox. If you have any suggestions, feedback, or stories or posts I missed, let me know!

Nate :)

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