According to the Convenience Store News 2014 Foodservice Study, 81% of convenience store operators are predicting an increase in their foodservice sales with 63.5% sustaining year-over-year growth. This makes it no surprise that convenience store operators are looking for ways to differentiate their foodservice programs to compete with other foodservice segments, in an effort to keep customers coming back.
Convenience store foodservice has several areas of growth opportunity available including beverages, breakfast, snacking and dinner. Determining which potential growth category to take advantage of can be a daunting task for even the most experienced c-store operator. These four emerging focus areas will allow c-store operators to provide consumers with a nontraditional foodservice experience.
Breakfast The breakfast category is estimated to grow 6 % in 2014 and 6.7% in 2015, making it a leading focus for c-stores, QSR's and Fast Casual Restaurants according to CSP Magazine. Today's consumers demand a breakfast that offers unique items and delivers healthy, fresh, fast and innovative products to tantalize their taste buds. Offering a combination of these items will entice customers to return more frequently, drive brand affinity, profits and an opportunity to deliver on additional dayparts.
Beverages According to the 2013 NACS State of the Industry Report data, dispensed beverages contribute to more than 30% of foodservice sales and an average of 57% of the gross margin. Consumers are demanding more from beverage programs in all segments including new flavor profiles, customization, healthy add-ins and blended beverages. Offering an exclusive and competitive selection will appeal to multiple targets providing a competitive advantage with increased repeat visits and greater profits.
Snacking According to CSP Magazine, millennials' are driving the snack category for convenience stores with 47% reporting that they prefer to purchase a snack at a c-store versus a grocery store. Foodservice Director reports millennials' are snacking throughout various parts of the day depending on their age group (younger, middle or older). But beware; they are not your traditional snackers. They prefer global bold flavors, experimentation and variety. Offering this group smaller portions, which are healthy in nature and are tailored in unique combinations, will increase the likelihood they will part with their disposable income at your operation.
Ready-To-Eat Evening meals are a unique opportunity for c-stores and one traditionally thought to have belonged exclusively to full service restaurants. Since consumers are more pressed for time than ever, they are looking for quicker ways to reduce the number of stops on their way home along with the convenience of picking up ready-to-eat meals. Grocers, convenience stores and restaurants are competing with one another for this share of the prepared food packaging market resulting in a more level playing field between those segments. Pizza can be that point of differentiation with ready-to-eat foods affording consumers the choice they are looking for and c-stores a chance to prove the quality of their offerings for a very low cost of entry for the customer.
Focusing on one, or all four of these high profit areas can mean a substantial increase in profits and the perception of c-stores as a valued foodservice outlet with high quality, and fresh offerings.
For more information on how Manitowoc Foodservice can help you take advantage of profit-building foodservice trends, visit us at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show booth #5054.