In 2016, foodservice (including pre-prepared and commissary food, and hot/cold dispensed beverages) accounted for 21.7% of all in-store sales in all convenience stores across the US according to NACS Daily.
That is a 5.6% increase over 2015 and out of all non-tobacco categories, this 21.7% was the largest piece of the pie. It comes as no surprise to find that 2017’s numbers are projected to increase even more dramatically.
On-Site Preparation vs. Pre-Packaged
While it wasn’t long ago that beverages were king, foodservice is certainly taking over. Many C-Stores have made a name for themselves with freshly prepared offerings. In some places, you can now buy anything including full pizzas, breakfast sandwiches, hotdogs, chicken tenders, nachos, soft pretzels, and even crisp green salads.
The great debate comes down to freshly prepared vs. pre-packaged. Given the trend, it should come as no surprise that “Food Prepared On-Site” leads the overall foodservice category, accounting for more than 62% of sales.
Although pre-packaged food items are still definitely worth stocking in your coolers, they didn’t fare as well in 2016 as they have in years past. The decline in sales are being attributed to oversaturation of products (too many options) and consumer’s yearning desires for “healthier options.”
It’s important to note that non-packaged beverages are part of that 21.7% foodservice category. If your C-store isn’t equipped to whip up fresh salads or artisanal sandwiches, you’re undoubtedly offering drinks from your beverage bar.
On the hot side, it’s no surprise that coffee wins out over all others. In 2016, coffee made up 77% of all sales from the hot beverage bar, with teas, cappuccinos, hot chocolate, or lattes accounting for the other 23%.
Over on the cold beverage side, soda is still king, though many C-store are responding to a demand for healthy alternatives by offering selections with lower sugar and calories, or made with natural ingredients. Unsweetened teas, fresh juices, and healthy smoothies round out this category. Some retailers are even starting to create their own offerings with a proprietary soda fountain programs to help maximize their profit margins.
Another interesting trend that is taking hold has little to do with the actual beverage, and everything to do with what keeps it cold. Many retailers report success by offering “soft ice,” sometimes called “chewy ice.” The reasoning? Ice may make up to 50% of purchased fountain beverages, and customers enjoy chewing on it once the liquid is gone.
Where fresh foods, coffees, and other such items are concerned, keeping track of everything can be a challenge. Especially without the benefit of a manufacturer barcode, case counts, etc. You can manage items effectively from your POS system, and track them efficiently through the cloud with CStorePro so you’re always accurate with your counts.
With price book management, you may also easily set promotions and combinations for in-store offerings. Why not pair a freshly baked muffin with a hot cup of coffee for the morning crowd? Or a freshly prepared salad and a glass of iced tea for the lunch rush? Don’t forget to make your packaging work for you!
Do you have an all-in-one back office for your C-store? today to discover how CStorePro is the best solution for you.