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IRM and Trackmax Solutions Form Strategic Partnership

BY Tara Smith

DALLAS Information technology leaders in the food and beverage industry IRM Corporation and Trackmax Solutions on Wednesday announced the formation of a strategic partnership—bringing together the leading software systems of both organizations to create new solutions to optimize the value of purchase and sales transactions, as well as deliver unique sales and profit analysis capabilities for foodservice manufacturer and distributor communities.

IRM, whose clients include Nestle and Frito-Lay, is a leading innovator in business intelligence, forecasting, promotion management and analytics while Trackmax Solutions, which partners with—among others—Frosty Acres and the Federated Group, is the leading transaction-based tracking, forecasting, analytics and profit optimization software developer.

The companies will integrate IRM’s Discover System, currently used by nearly 200 Food and Beverage manufacturers and distributors, with Trackmax Solutions’ Earned Income Profit Optimizer to deliver unmatched capabilities in analysis and reporting. The integration of Trackmax Solutions’ newly developed Trade Spend Optimizer product and IRM’s established Discovery and PromoAssist solutions will provide foodservice manufacturers with the most comprehensive analytical toolset for assessing trade promotion activities.

Trackmax Solutions’ Trade Spend Optimizer is a centralized tracking system that captures all “at-invoice” and “after-invoice” trade spend dollars, giving accountability to an organization’s trade and promotions spending. Aligned with Discovery System’s ability to quickly identify hidden opportunities within disparate business data and PromoAssist’s customizable trade spend workflow engine, manufacturers will realize unmatched tracking and reporting benefits from this full-featured, fully integrated trade spend management system.

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Coca-Cola announces partnership with ExerciseTV

BY Tara Smith

ATLANTA Coca-Cola North America on Friday announced it entered into a two-year agreement with ExerciseTV—the first on-demand network dedicated to 24-hour fitness programming—that highlights Coca-Cola’s broad beverage portfolio. The sponsorship relationship went into effect Tuesday.

“For more than 100 years, Coca-Cola has been working with a variety of organizations to encourage physical activity, fitness and overall well-being,” said Greg Downey, Group Director of Entertainment Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “Our partnership with ExerciseTV is ideal because it clearly demonstrates how our broad portfolio of brands fits naturally into a balanced and active lifestyle.”

Coca-Cola and ExerciseTV will co-create original programming and integrate beverage brand messages, as well as include exclusive content for MyCokeRewards.com. Among the co-created programming is the Enviga Calorie Burn Series that will start this spring.

ExerciseTV currently offers video-on-demand workouts in such categories as pilates, yoga, cardio and dancing

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Growth of spirits industry appears to be slowing

BY Tara Smith

NEW YORK The spirits industry growth slowed in 2007, due in part to a slowing economy and increased consumer interest in craft beers.

Although final year-end data has yet to be released, Eric Shepard, executive editor of trade magazine Beverage Marketers Insight, said growth in the number of spirits sent to sellers slowed in 2007 while beer shipments remained about the same. According to ACNielsen monthly retail sales data, beer outperformed spirits from September to November.

In a conference call with investors in November, Brown-Forman Chief Executive Paul Varga said wine and beer companies have benefited from slower growth in spirits, particularly in a weaker economy. Consumers faced with fewer discretionary dollars to spend due to increasing food and gas costs and declining home values—also are drinking more at home, Varga said.

Heightened interest in craft beers also may account for some of the slowdown, Shepard said. Crafts currently are one of the fastest growing beer categories and domestic brewers have been trying to get in on the success by buying smaller craft brewers and by developing brands like Blue Moon—made by Molson Coors Brewing Co.

Not everyone, though, thinks that the popularity of spirits is slowing down. John McDonnell, chief operating officer of tequila-maker Patron Spirits Co., said sales seemed to have picked up in the past week and believes growth will continue in 2008 as new drinkers enter the market with less money to spend on larger luxury items. “The cocktail culture is getting stronger,” he said, adding that liquor represents “an affordable luxury.”

Final year-end shipment and sales data is expected to be released January 11.

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