Owners of convenience stores head to the NACS show every year to find foods, beverages, candies, tobacco products and other goods. This year, dairy processors showed off their wares among the Slim Jims, Monster energy drinks and prepared sandwiches at the 2011 NACS, staged by the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, Alexandria, Va., Oct. 1-4 in Chicago.

C-stores attract young adult males, who happen to drink a lot of flavored milks. Chip Marks, a marketing associate in Nestlé’s beverage division, says the company’s Nesquik extended shelf-life milks are popular with the 18- to 35-year-old males across all dayparts. In February 2012, the company will begin to ship a smaller, 8-ounce beverage to its customers. The low-fat strawberry and chocolate milks have 170 calories and are sweetened with sucrose. The company will support the brand with national television and digital advertising, as well as an online game.

Upstate Farms also sees young men as a key demographic for its Crave flavored milks, sold in 16-ounce aluminum bottles. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based processor is looking beyond the traditional C-store channel to sporting goods and home improvement stores, says Ken Voelker. It designed a cooler in the shape of a Crave bottle for placement in Home Depot.

Other dairy processors exhibited ice cream pints, novelties, non-dairy beverages and yogurt. But it was the milk shake category that was drawing the attention of C-store operators. Cold Cow Ice Cream, West Mifflin, Pa.; f’real foods, Orinda, Calif.; and Nestlé, Glendale, Calif., exhibited machines and mixes to make milk shakes.

Nestlé’s blenderz is a self-serve blending station where shoppers can make a vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or mint shake and blend in Butterfinger, Nestlé Crunch, Peanut Butter Cup or Oreo pieces. The self-serve f’real blending bar mixes milkshakes, smoothies and frozen coffees.

Ice cream processor and scoop shop operator Cold Cow Ice Cream, Mifflin, Pa., offered four flavors of packaged shakes — vanilla, chocolate, cookies and cream and strawberry — which the shopper then thaws in a low-wattage microwave oven.

WhiteWave, Broomfield, Colo., showed off another beverage concept — the International Delight ice café machine. The 5-gallon countertop dispenser uses the company’s ready-mix refrigerated drink made with skim milk, cream and coffee extract. A company representative claimed the beverage is formulated to create froth as the drink exits the dispenser. WhiteWave showed the unit alongside its Flavor Shots dispensing unit that delivers pre-measured doses of its vanilla, hazelnut, caramel and mocha International Delight coffee flavorings. The units are being tested at the University of Rhode Island and the University of Arizona.
— By Jim Carper, chief editor

The C-Store Shuffle

Among the dairy brands and frozen dessert makers exhibiting at the 2011 NACS show were:

Exhibitor Products
Bang Ice Cream Caffeinated ice cream pints
Borden Dairy
Borden milk, LaLa yogurt smoothies
Chobani Greek yogurt
HP Hood
Hershey’s milkshake, Baileys flavored coffee creamers
J&J Snack Foods
ICEE, Minute Maid frozen desserts
Milky Way chocolate ice cream bars
Nesquik single-serve milk, Aguas Frescas horchata
Philadelphia Water Ice WarHeads frozen beverages
Turkey Hill Teas
Unilever Magnum ice cream bars
Upstate Niagara Single-serve milk
Wells Enterprises
Chef Duff Blue Bunny ice cream pints
International Delight iced coffee beverage and dispenser
YoCrunch Yogurt parfait