C-Stores Profit with Prepared Food Items

foodAn increase in the variety of fresh prepared food items has led to growth in foodservice profitability.

According to a new report from Datassential, foodservice is the top driver of profitability for convenience store operators. In fact, 77% of convenience stores claim that their foodservice offerings are “very profitable.”

Foodservice is ranked very profitable by more c-stores than bottled and canned beverages (69%), beer and alcohol (56%) and even gasoline (37%). Datassential released these findings in its new report on c-stores, which features data and analysis from over 150 operators and 1,000 consumers.

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“They’re listening. C-store operators are paying attention to what consumers are interested in and are updating their offerings to provide a fresh variety of dining choices to customers,” said Ann Golladay, senior project director at Datassential. “Foodservice is a powerful area for these stores to grow their bottom line and so they are motivated to pay attention to the latest food trends and to compete with the local fast food option.”

According to the report, the top planned food menu additions are based on consumer interest. Operators plan to add more fresh fruit and veggies, green salads, fresh brewed iced teas and smoothies to their prepared offerings.

“41% of consumers are buying more c-store prepared items than two years ago and one-third of those consumers say that is because c-stores are providing a higher-quality experience and more variety,” Golladay said. “The biggest increases in offered items since 2012 are ethnic foods such as egg rolls, empanadas and sushi, and there is a lot of room for growth with fresh and better-for-you items.”

The report also shares items that have high consumer interest but are less often menued in c-stores like Asian rice bowls, hot soup and salad bars. Additionally, impulse purchases are frequent at c-stores. 43% of c-store visitors buy something that they hadn’t planned on, usually a snack. Packaging has an important and growing impact on attracting impulse purchases and should not be overlooked in efforts to increase prepared item impulse buys.

The report highlights how important breakfast is for c-stores. 74% of operators have seen an increase in their breakfast foodservice sales thanks to offerings of hot breakfast sandwiches, which nears the top of the list for food items with the greatest sales growth according to operators–second only to pizza.

Loaded with over 200 pages of detailed analysis, Datassential’s 2016 C-Store Keynote Report provides in-depth data about c-stores for operators and their suppliers, including prepared food and beverage offerings, what drives operator choices, a closer look at c-store consumers, a competitive analysis, and more.

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