1. Cold-brew coffee

There will be a proliferation of cold-brew and nitrogen-dispensed coffee programs. What’s the learning curve for employees? And will sales in this trending category make it worth it?

2. Clean labeling

We will see an increase in manufacturers attempting to address clean labeling. What does clean labeling mean for retailers? What is the threshold that consumers will accept and/or expect from manufacturers and operators in regard to clean labeling?

5. Protein-enhanced drinks

Beverage makers are stealing meat snack’s thunder by adding and promoting protein in everything from milk and yogurt drinks to bottled water and energy shots. Look for dozens of examples soon.

6. Pushing the better-for-you envelope

PepsiCo is the mainstream mover here, with probiotics, nut milk and more coming under its Naked and Tropicana juice lines. Campbell’s is on board, too, with the Bolthouse Farms brand. Expect other major beverage makers to join the fray and many independent brands as well.

7. Never enough protein

Seems snacks can’t get enough protein, and we’re seeing manufacturers packing new ingredients into bars and bags to pump it up. No doubt we’ll see more protein variety and unusual snack ingredients like Brussels sprouts and crickets.

8. Eating up the innovators

Big, traditional snacks company such as Kellogg and General Mills have acquired innovation through the purchase of smaller companies that make “better for you” snacks.

9. Will energy boost gum sales?

Gum has been losing steam for the past few years, especially with millennials who seem to favor mints over chewing gum. But the same demographic also drives sales of energy drinks and shots. We expect to see more energy gum in the near term.

10. Cloud movement

Opting for cloud solutions, retailers are turning over any number of operational functions to third-party providers via “the cloud.” Houston-based Shell announced a program to offer point-of-sale (POS) in the cloud, while Greenville, S.C.-based The Spinx Cos. has gone with a cloud-based human-resources provider.

11. Data distribution

With major tobacco manufacturers calling for transactional data from retailers, transferring data to third-party sources will be a new challenge for retailers, said Hubert Williams, vice president of technology and development for Maverik, North Salt Lake, Utah. Providers such as PDI, Temple, Texas, and The Pinnacle Corp., Arlington, Texas, recently debuted such features in their software.

12. Fanning e-cig growth

With NJOY’s bankruptcy filing in early fall, the future of electronic cigarettes seems to be in doubt. The major tobacco manufacturers, however, appear to be pouring new promotional dollars and executing pricing strategies to fan the flames.

13. Legal cannabis

Propositions in major states such as California this November could accelerate the legalization of marijuana for recreational use across the United States. But  it may be a while before convenience stores will actually get to legally sell pot.

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