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by Dan Malovany
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Nothing quite competes with the hype surrounding the 2013 return of the Twinkie and other Hostess sweet goods — dubbed the “Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.” However, Kansas City, MO-based Hostess Brands LLC is resolved to start the New Year with a fistful of new ways for consumers to start their day.

Beginning Jan. 3, the company will offer nationally four hefty 5-oz Danish pastries in Apple Cinnamon, Berries & Cream Cheese, Cream Cheese, and Chocolate & Bavarian Cream varieties as well as three 5.5-oz Jumbo Muffins in Banana Nut, Blueberry and Chocolate Chip flavors. The new products, including a 3.7-oz Glazed Donettes pack, complement Hostess’ current breakfast line of Donettes, coffee cakes, honey buns and cinnamon rolls.

With the decline in dollar sales of Danish pastries and jumbo muffins during the past year, a number of retailers — specifically, convenience store chains — turned to Hostess Brands to wake up these sleepy sub-segments of the breakfast usage occasions, according to Andy Jacobs, the company’s senior vice-president and chief customer officer.

Mr. Jacobs noted the premium-branded products are made with real fruit or real chocolate. “In our Danish pastries, we have increased the level of filling over and above what you would find in the market today,” he said. “You can instantly tell the difference with the Hostess quality when you take your first bite.”

At the National Association of Convenience Stores exposition this fall, where the products were first displayed to the trade, Mr. Jacobs shared Nielson c-store data that showed Hostess dollar sales are up $59.1 million for the 12 weeks ending Sept. 6. During that period, Hostess products contributed more than 164% total category growth for sweet baked goods in c-stores.

Mr. Jacobs attributed the success in part to the company’s warehouse delivery model. “Our distributor partners have done an excellent job penetrating all of the traditional retail channels, including convenience, but also other key channels like dollar, drug, club and mass merchandisers in ways that we were never able to do in the old, high-cost DSD [direct-store delivery] model,” he said.

Moreover, Mr. Jacobs noted the new “Hostess Partner Program” offers merchandising incentives to c-stores to provide continued and even accelerated category growth. Inside convenience stores, the Danish and Jumbo Muffins should be placed next to or near Hostess Donettes. The new products will be merchandised in the Hostess rack or within the breakfast section of a retailer’s in-line sweet baked goods set. The company is also supporting the launch with in-store dedicated merchandizing shippers.

Initially, the Danish and Jumbo Muffins are available in only single-serve packs meant for immediate consumption.

And there are plans to expand the line if the situation warrants. “We are launching the most popular flavor ­varieties right out of the gate, but we have additional products ready for line extensions when the time is right,” Mr. Jacobs explained.

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