Consumers looking for fresh and healthy at c-stores - The Packer

Consumers looking for fresh and healthy at c-stores

09/16/2010 04:26:32 PM
Ashley Bentley

Convenience stores are going fresh and healthy but not quickly enough for consumers, a new research report suggests.

In recent years, convenience stores have been a growing outlet for produce, especially for grab-and-go fruit and vegetable options. Consumers, however, say they’re looking for more healthy food options when they’re buzzing c-store shelves.

Courtesy Technomic Inc.

7-Eleven's Fresh to Go salads are one example of how fresh and healthy food options are becoming more important for convenience stores.

More than half, 52%, of consumers polled for foodservice research and consulting company Technomic Inc.’s Convenience Store Foodservice Consumer Trend Report said they would like to see more healthy food items in the stores. Only 28% said they were satisfied with the healthy options.

The focus on freshness is driven by increased competition between c-stores and restaurants, particularly in fast food, said Kelly Weikel, consumer research manager. Trade down restaurant spending paired with falling revenures for other c-store categories, like gasoline and tobacco, has made foodservice one of the most profitable areas for c-stores, she said.

“In order to capitalize on this, and compete with restaurants, c-stores need to convince consumers that they are a viable foodservice option by offering freshly prepared foods and made-to-order options that consumers associate with restaurants,” Weikel said.

According to Technomic, more than half of consumers purchase a food or beverage at convenience stores each week. Another 10% are visiting c-stores, but not purchasing food or drinks.

It’s going to take high quality food and a strong value proposition to translate that traffic into foodservice purchases, according to the report. Forty-one percent of consumers said they would be encouraged to purchase foodservice items at convenience stores more frequently if there were high-quality food items available. Healthier options were also near the top of the list, with 36% saying healthier options would encourage them to purchase food at c-stores more often.

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