Convenience store operator7-Eleven Inc ., Dallas, said it will present its "2008 Retailer Initiative Award" toKraft Foods Inc.during the retail chain's annual business partners dinner Sept. 9 in Dallas.

Kevin Elliott, 7-Eleven's senior vice president of merchandising, said Kraft demonstrated a "high level of partnership throughout 2008 and for developing programs that increased sales at 7-Eleven® stores in a challenging economic period." He cited a successful year of “team merchandising” that included inventive product development to build store traffic throughout the day, exclusive new offerings based on consumer insights, and significant promotional support both inside and outside the store.

Added Joe DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven, “We consider the people at Kraft who work on our account to be valued partners because they go above and beyond what many manufacturers do in providing us with support and innovative ideas. They treat our business with the same energy, enthusiasm and respect they give their own company.”

7-Eleven bestowed the annual honor to its top suppliers and partners who excel in assisting the company meet its customers’ changing needs through supply chain solutions, category management and creativity in advertising and promotional programs.

Among Kraft’s most recognized 7-Eleven product is the proprietary Big Bite® all-beef Oscar Mayer hot dog, a perennial top-seller on 7-Eleven store grills, and the food giant has worked with 7-Eleven to increase sales across several food and beverage categories.

“Kraft has a dedicated sales team that includes product development experts and analysts who play a significant role on our fresh foods business systems team,” Elliott said. “In 2008, they were instrumental in helping us grow the morning day-part of our grill business with a successful coffee and Breakfast Bite® promotion. Special Big Bite and snack promotions also contributed considerable growth to both of our businesses. Working together toward a common goal, we realized even greater benefits.”

7-Eleven said other companies receiving honorable mention recognition in the Retailer Initiative Award competition were Kellogg’s and Technimark. Candidates were nominated by 7-Eleven’s merchandising and operations personnel and judged on 2008 business activities. The award recipients were chosen by the 7-Eleven Awards Committee, composed of senior executives.