As the grab-and-go trend continues, convenience stores looking to cater to hungry customers are increasingly turning to both made-to-order and direct store delivery sandwich programs.
In 2013, Technomic expects to see better quality deli and grab-and-go sandwich items at c-stores, as customers continue to grow more food and ingredient conscious.
“Meats, condiments, cheeses and bread will all be improved to better position the c-store as a restaurant/sandwich destination,” said Timothy Powell, director of c-store programs at Technomic. “The expansion of fresh food programs has made off-site commissaries more prominent, and c-stores are able to mirror the options that are offered in other channels, such as grab-and-go at limited-service restaurants, such as Starbucks and Corner Bakery. They are not there yet, but we expect quality to only continue.”
In fact, sandwich and wrap sales totaled $2.5 billion in 2012. Cold sandwiches are expected to grow 4.5% from 2012-2015, with hot sandwiches estimated to grow 5%, according to Technomic. Look for increased portability and improved packaging with cold sandwiches and a growing demand for hot sandwiches, leading to increased equipment needs for retailers.
Sales On a Roll
“We see 2013 as a big year of increase in the sandwich category,” said Ian Johnstone, general manager, Cenex Zip Trip stores.
The 68-store chain, owned and operated by CHS Inc., offers numerous types of sandwiches on various styles of bread, but Johnstone pointed out that consumers still gravitate toward classic-style sandwiches, such as those featuring turkey and ham.
Fresh is a concept of increasing importance to customers in 2013. “We offer a variety of sandwiches on the fresh scale. We have sandwiches branded ‘Fresh and Local’ with a six-day shelf live, 21-day shelf life and 28-day shelf life. The longer shelf life sandwiches come frozen, and that’s how many days we have to sell them once they are thawed,” Johnstone said. “Meanwhile, the six-day sandwiches are never frozen. We have seen that the longer life sandwiches have better sales and a lower waste rate.”
Combos are the key to driving sandwich sales today, as customers are accustomed to this value-added proposition found at most QSRs and an increasing number of convenience stores.
Zip Trip, at different times during the year, offers fountain drinks at a substantial discount (79 cents for a 32-ounce cup with the purchase of a sandwich), and adds soup at a select number of stores in a combo with sandwiches during the cooler months.
“We have invested a tremendous amount of capital to upgrade our sandwich cases so we can display the offerings that our customers want to purchase in an appealing way,” Johnstone said. “We feel good about the category.”