“The market is battling competition from restaurants, which most consumers perceive to offer options that are higher in quality than those menued at most convenience stores,” the report reads.
When asked about factors that were important in deciding to make a food or drink purchase, however, health fell lower on the list. Still, 51% of consumers said health was either important or very important. To contrast that, 85% of consumers said taste was important or very important, and 84% reported similarly for freshness.
Although fresh, healthy fruit and vegetable items are more closely associated with other retail or restaurant sectors, consumer viewpoints are shifting, according to the report.
“Promoting freshness is also an effective strategy because it goes hand-in-hand with several other attributes that are important to the purchasing decision, including taste, quality and health,” Weikel said.
Prepared sandwiches, salads, beverages and hot foods were among the most appealing c-store items, according to the report.
“Fruits and vegetables are increasingly on offer as well,” the report reads. “Fresh-cut fruit and vegetable snacks packaged and sold as grab-and-go options are much more commonplace today than ever before.”
Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz backs up its lineup of sandwiches, entree salads, soups, wraps, burgers, fajitas and more with signage that reads, “Fresh food, made to order.” Dallas -based 7-Eleven has its own private-label Fresh to Go salad line and introduces at least 20 new meal offerings in stores each week, according to the report.
Still, only 25% of consumers reported purchasing fruit for breakfast at a convenience store at least once every three months, while 60% reported purchasing donuts. One-third purchased a made-to-order sandwich or wrap in the same time frame, while more than half had purchased a hot dog.
The report took into account responses from more than 1,500 U.S. consumers surveyed during July and data from its MenuMonitor database of menu items at foodservice outlets across the U.S.
This was Technomic’s first c-store trend report, but the company has a C-Store Insights Group and has done an industry report on leading convenience stores, said Sara Monnette, director of consumer research.