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PepsiCo positions Amp as everyman’s drink, launches Earnhardt campaign

BY Tara Smith

PURCHASE, N.Y. PepsiCo on Monday began a massive ad campaign for Mountain Dew Amp Energy to position the energy drink of the masses. The campaign will feature ads starring Dale Earnhardt Jr., three new flavors, a high-profile summer promotion and slew of packaging variations will aim to spur sales of the No. 5 energy drink.

The company is betting that Amp, which saw sales double in 2007, will become the choice of men ages 18 to 34. “Amp is about bringing your ‘A’ game whether it is going 200 miles per hour on the race track or going to your meeting,” said Maurice Herrera, Amp’s marketing director.

Amp has plenty of competition in the high-margin $5 billion energy category, which was up 35 percent for the first nine months of 2007, according to Beverage Digest. No. 2 Red Bull last week announced it would make its 16.9-ounce can a permanent offering and a sugar-free version will debut this quarter. Monster is No.1 with 27 percent of the category. New competitor All City NRG from AriZona is on the horizon, with the company testing the 16-ounce non-carbonated drink in select markets.

The poster child for this new attitude is Earnhardt, who signed a sponsorship deal with Amp and the National Guard for a reported $25 million per year. At retail, the Dale Jr. Collector series of 12-ounce sleek cans will be available from May through July. The beverage also will sponsor the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega on Oct. 5.

In three months, Amp will launch three new line extensions: Amp Relaunch will better hydrate consumers with an added mix of electrolytes and B vitamins. Amp Elevate can help boost drinkers’ mental capacity with L-Theanine. Amp Traction will present as a sustained energy option.

Pepsi spent $10.2 million on media for Amp for the first 11 months of 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. This year, “we’re going to play big,” said Herrera. “Amp will get a tremendous amount of focus.”

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Kraft Foods expands contract with DHL

BY Tara Smith

PLANTATION, Fla. DHL announced Tuesday that Kraft Foods has renewed and expanded its contract with DHL as its primary U.S. express carrier.

DHL will provide U.S. express shipping services for Kraft Foods. The express carrier has also been chosen by Kraft Foods as a provider for U.S. ground delivery and international express services for Kraft’s letters and small package shipments, including delivery of food product samples, point-of-sale advertising, inter-office documents and payroll, and product-sampling items for Kraft vendors, plants, distribution centers and its corporate offices.

“Kraft has been a valued partner for nearly 20 years,” said Charles Brewer, executive vice president of sales. “We are seeing many of the largest multi-national companies enhance their operations by leveraging DHL’s flexibility, customer-focused commitment and ongoing U.S. network enhancements.”

Founded in San Francisco in 1969, DHL generated worldwide revenues of $80 billion in 2006.

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Giant Eagle invests in own products; reopens former LeNature’s plant

BY Tara Smith

PITTSBURGH Bottled water is being produced again at the former LeNature’s plant in Latrobe, Pa., thanks in part to Giant Eagle—and the new owners expect to add flavored water, iced teas and even soft drinks.

Currently the plant is producing Giant Eagle-labeled “Purified Water,” which is being shipped to area Giant Eagle stores. The plant plans to produce other bottled drinks for Giant Eagle, which comprises ready-made market of 158 corporate, 65 franchises and 138 convenience stores in the Pittsburgh region, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland and owns 1 percent of the operation, before branching out to outside customers.

The beverage plant had closed in November 2006, when LeNature’s was forced into bankruptcy. Giant Eagle bought the plant and its state-of-the-art bottling equipment for $22.3 million in September in a bankruptcy court auction, having outbid Cadbury Schweppes. Manufacturing its own products is a new direction for Giant Eagle, the region’s dominant grocer, moving from a competitive business to a more competitive field.

The 300,000-square-foot plant will make flavored waters by the end of the month, iced tea brewed from tea leaves in mid-February and carbonated soft drinks in March, according to Charley Price, company president. The company has not decided yet which flavors it will produce, Price said.

To bring the plant into full production, the company expects to spend about $4 million for clean-up, repairing and recommissioning the equipment, plus adding a line for soft drinks, Price said. He believes that, with the equipment on hand, running 24 hours per day, seven days a week, the plant could make nine million bottles of beverages per year.

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