In With The New, In With The Old

NY-Header-2012“Out with the old and in with the new” is a common phrase this time of year, but while 2014 is bringing many new things to Stockton Graham & Co., we are continuing with what we know best… helping our customers offer exceptional specialty coffees and hand crafted drinks to build your business.

The biggest news in 2014 will be around some important upcoming anniversaries. Stockton Graham & Co. will celebrate our 20th anniversary providing great coffees to our customers!  Our sister company, Dilworth Coffee is celebrating their 25th anniversary as the original Charlotte coffeehouse.  At Stockton Graham & Co., several team members will also celebrate anniversaries with the company, with 5 of our team members celebrating over 10 years and two celebrating 6 to 9 years with us.

Last year, we introduced Modern Oats, a certified gluten-free and GMO free on demand oatmeal product for the coffee shop and café. We have been pleased with this product and are excited about the new point of sale materials they have introduced to help you increase your sales in 2014.

Some other continuations of the old into 2014 are two programs introduced during the waning weeks of 2013.  These include our revised Everyday Savings Program with volume based savings so the more you order, the more you save.  To also help you measure your savings or potential savings, our sales and customer care team can work with you on an individual customized savings assessment and pricing grid.

Café Essentials from Dr. Smoothie with their authentic flavors offered a sampling program and money back guarantee that was so well received we are going to extend it through February 28!

We also have learned that the Torani Peppermint Bark Sauce has proven to be a winner in coffeehouses and cafes across the US and will be back for the 2014 holiday season.  For many of our customers that offered it in 2013, it has proven so successful that they wish to continue selling through Valentine’s Day in Winter feature drinks with a different twist!  Torani and Stockton Graham & Co. have some decadent recipes to try, and we have been able to secure a limited number of cases to help our customers continue to offer a truly outstanding flavor phenomenon.

Thom Swain, our SE Business Development Manager and Katie Barnes, one of our Customer Care Associates will be generating build your business ideas and thoughts for our blog and email newsletters including how you can take the time of year, seasonal themes and specials to attract new customers, increase frequency or increase the ticket average to assist you in keeping your menu fresh and enticing your customers with great coffees, drinks and service.

With all that and more, it looks like an exciting new year is upon us!

“Blend This!” Event Recap – Frozen Drink Sales Growing Fast!

Blend This!In June, Kerry Foods and Stockton Graham & Co. co-hosted two “Blend This!” seminars in Charlotte, NC and Greenville/Spartanburg, SC. The events featured Jill Zimmerman, Kerry Foods Southeast Regional Food and Beverage Manager and Thom Swain, Stockton Graham & Co. Southeast Business Development Associate. Both Thom and Jill provided attendees with updates and detailed market data on one of the fastest growing food and beverage segments in the US with personal experience, industry statistics and samples.

What started as summertime treat, blended ice coffee and other frozen drinks are now among the fastest growing segments in the specialty beverage industry with estimated 2012 US sales of over $4 billion. This number is continuing to grow each year, with smoothie sales alone estimated to grow worldwide to over $9 billion in 2015.

During the events, Thom and Jill reviewed the current trends in these categories, ideas on how to capitalize on them, and the profitability of frozen drinks.

Beverage Trends
One consumer trend that has emerged in the hectic schedules of American daily life is the idea of eating several small meals throughout the day, with 38% of consumers claiming to do this. Also, 46% of women and 36% of men say they eat healthy most of the time, but indulge in a daily “guilty pleasure.”

In our industry, frappe sales are bigger than ever and growing at 25% over last year with a strong focus on indulgent frozen or ice blended options, especially in coffee shops, donut shops and even traditional food service restaurants. The frozen drink trend has gone mainstream with 20% increase seen in smoothies on Quick Service Restaurant menus from 2009 through 2012.

In terms of our own customer base, throughout this year frozen and ice blended coffee sales are equal to or greater than the number of specialty coffee prepared drinks utilizing the espresso machine.

How to Capitalize on these Trends
There are many ways that you can take advantage of this sales trends to drive additional gross profits for your store. The first step is to benchmark your store. Do you offer a selection of blended ice drinks, including coffee, creams and fruit options? Do you have the proper ingredients, equipment and serving options for them? You don’t need an extensive menu, but you should offer multiple choices to customers. Finally, you need to decide how these menu items will complement your mainline espresso and coffee offerings.

In reviewing the menu trends, consumers are looking for that reward treat, or “guilty pleasure.” While the basic ice blend café mocha is a mainstay, incorporating some different options such as cookies and cream, caramel swirl and blueberry-pomegranate will tempt customers to indulge themselves at your store. To keep the menu fresh and appealing, we learned that market surveys indicate that 41% of consumers like to try new beverages, so offering LTO’s (limited time offerings) that rotate regularly, as well as the opportunity to try new flavors will help build repeat visits as well as sales. Seasonal or holiday-themed food and drinks also help to create a sense of urgency with a “get it while it’s here” immediacy.

As a specialty coffee shop, you and your staff can also express creativity that appeals to the consumers’ sense of flavor adventure and thirst for innovation by offering unique combinations, customizations and garnishes all served with expertise and awesome service. This will help you  stay on top of new trends and flavor options each season.

To further capitalize on the profitability of frozen blended drinks, utilize your staff’s knowledge, customer input and national trends to create unique signature drinks for your store. Work with your ingredient distributor and manufacturers to get tips on how to market and promote them in your store using a variety of tactics from vendor-provided POS to sampling programs for new LTO introductions.

How Profitable are Frozen Drinks?
Like their espresso-based counterparts, frozen drinks have sales prices that range from $3.00 per drink (smaller sizes) to over $5.00 per drink for the more indulgent, elaborate and larger sizes. The cost of goods on these drinks typically should average 25% of their sales price, thus generating gross profit of $2.25 to $3.75 per drink. With even 30 sales a day that represents an additional gross profit contribution to your store’s profits of $90 per day, or $2700 per month!

Ice blended coffee and blended drinks may not fit every specialty coffee bar or program, but they are an important and growing part of many a retailers’ operation whose sales are growing rapidly each year. This segment has been a mainstay for many of the larger chains such as Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and it has recently attracted restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and others.

Stockton Graham & Co. associates can help you review your offerings, incorporate new drinks onto your menu and blend specialty coffee knowledge with successful business practices. Contact us today at 800.835.5943 or send email to