Featured Manufacturers

Westrock Coffee to Buy S&D Coffee & Tea from Cott

Late last week Westrock Coffee entered into an agreement to purchase North Carolina-based S&D Coffee & Tea from Cott Corporation. The transaction is expected to close within the next several weeks and will create the leading integrated coffee company serving the needs of the retail, restaurant, convenience store, and hospitality industries. 

“This strategic combination will create the nation’s premier coffee, tea, and extract supplier that is capable of serving the most complex and demanding customers across the country and around the world. We intend to use the scale of the new company to offer the most innovative beverage solutions with competitive pricing to our global clients while simultaneously providing a premium price to our farmer partners at origin. Our unmatched commitment to customer service, product quality, and our industry-leading sustainability and transparent sourcing practices will remain a cornerstone of our business,” said Scott Ford, Westrock Coffee Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Our combined organization will seek to lead the industry with our sustainability program and to accelerate the development of a broadening array of innovative products.”

The companies will continue to serve customers under their respective brand names for the foreseeable future. Westrock Coffee will remain headquartered in Arkansas, with its recently enlarged roasting and packaging plant in North Little Rock already earmarked for further expansion. Likewise, the S&D organization in Concord, NC will continue as a major center of operations with plans to continue expansion of these facilities.

The new company will employ approximately 1,700 people globally and can roast, grind, and package more than 220 million pounds of coffee annually. The company will also continue to be one of the largest tea suppliers in the US and the leading premium extract supplier to global foodservice and consumer product companies.

Ford added, “We are very pleased that following the closing of the transaction, S&D President and CEO Ron Hinson will remain as an advisor to the new, combined organization as Chairman Emeritus. We value Ron’s extensive industry knowledge and deep relationships amassed over his 41 years at S&D. We admire how S&D has grown and evolved during his tenure as President and CEO.”

“Participating in S&D’s growth and success during the past four decades has been incredible. We achieved industry leadership by innovating to serve our customers. We invested in job and career growth for employees and our community, and I look forward to working with Scott and the newly combined leadership team to see these achievements go even further. The highly complementary product and customer focus S&D brings to Westrock Coffee makes this a terrific event for our business, our employees, and especially our customers,” Hinson said.

Featured Manufacturers

FTC Opposes Post’s Acquisition of Treehouse Private Brand Cereal Business

Late last week the Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint challenging Post Holdings, Inc.’s proposed acquisition of TreeHouse Foods, Inc.’s private label ready-to-eat cereal business. Post and TreeHouse are two of only three significant manufacturers and distributors of private label ready-to-eat cereal in the United States. The acquisition would give Post more than a 60% share of an already highly concentrated market and eliminate the vigorous competition between them to serve grocers across the country. The proposed merger would remove the competitive pressure that has driven higher quality and lower priced cereals for American families.

Ready-to-eat cereals are a staple of American breakfasts. These cereals do not require any preparation before consumption. Nearly every grocer offers a selection of ready-to-eat cereals in their stores. In addition to carrying national brands of ready-to-eat cereals, many stores offer private label ready-to-eat cereals, with the retailer’s own trade name.

“Households nationwide benefit from the robust competition between Post and TreeHouse, and a merger between these companies would likely lead to higher prices and reduced quality of the store-brand cereals that consumers enjoy today,” said Ian Conner, Deputy Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

The Commission also authorized FTC staff to seek a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction in federal court, if necessary, to prevent the parties from consummating the merger, and to maintain the status quo pending the conclusion of the administrative proceeding.

The Commission votes to issue the administrative complaint and to authorize staff to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction were both 5-0.  The administrative trial is scheduled to begin on May 27, 2020.

Christopher Durham Featured PLMA

Store Brands Now Lead in Package Design – PLMALive!

My latest piece for the Private Label Manufacturers Association\’s online video magazine PLMALive.

Store Brands Now Lead in Package Design

What are the trends that made retailers and store brands the leaders in package design in 2019?  Christopher Durham explains how private label is winning the battle over what consumers buy when they shop.


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PLMA Chicago Show Opens

\"\"This year’s edition of the PLMA 2019 Private Label Trade Show began Monday morning with an opening breakfast keynoted by Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Gottlieb, who served as commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration from 2017-2019, delivered a thoughtful presentation to the enthusiastic private brand crowd.

\"\"The trade show floor then opened with the more than 5,000 visitors rushing to discover the new and exciting products that fill the 2500 booths. This year’s show hosts national pavilions from more than 25 countries, presenting exhibitors and products from Europe, South America, and Asia.

This year the show also features two dedicated areas.

  • CBD: More than a dozen CBD suppliers from across the U.S. and Canada in a dedicated section on the show floor. They include recognized industry leaders like Mile High Labs, Contract Pharmacal, Shikai, Blue Sky Hemp Ventures, Elixinol, and others.
  • Plant-Based Foods: The area features exhibitors of plant-based meat products, ranging from burgers, sausages, and sliders, to meatballs, meatloaf, breaded and non-breaded chicken-less tenders and more.\"\"
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Let\’s Connect At PLMA!

\"\"Next week PLMA’s 2019 Private Label Trade Show will be held at the Rosemont Convention Center, and I will be walking the floor, looking for what’s new and meeting the industry.

If you would like to connect please let me know. I have a few slots left in my schedule.

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