Chicken is a winning category for convenience stores because it gives ample opportunity to emphasize creativity and daypart expansion with convenient and affordable meals and snacks.
“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s forecast for chicken consumption is 98.9 pounds (per capita), which is 2.9 pounds or 3% ahead of the 96 pounds in 2019,” said Tom Super, senior vice president of communications for the National Chicken Council (NCC). “To achieve the forecast of growth in chicken consumption, companies and retailers will have to continue to do what brought them to the dance — that is, good, consistent taste/flavor/wholesomeness, competitive value and convenience with cooked portions leading the way forward and upward.”
In February 2019, Kwik Trip and Kwik Star, with 700 locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, introduced a made-fresh-in-store chicken program to its Kitchen Cravings brand in half of its stores, and it’s rapidly becoming an integral part of the company’s foodservice program, said Paul Servais, retail food service director, Kwik Trip.
“During lunch, we sell a lot of two-piece boxes and four-piece tenders from our hot display cases,” Servais said. “Eight-piece boxes do well in the afternoon, and easy to grab and go two- and three-piece tenders are increasingly popular as snacks.”
Any leftover chicken is sold from the stores’ cold cases. But Servais said there has been little to no waste.
For customers looking for a non-fried option, and to support the effort to expand the stores’ take-home dinner sales, Kwik Trip is launching a roasted chicken program, Servais said.
Versatile & Affordable
Chicken is a versatile and affordable source of protein, according to research firm Mintel’s December 2019 report on poultry.
In one Mintel survey, almost half of consumers said that breast meat in particular is the healthiest part of the chicken and the best source of protein.
But chicken thighs came out on top with consumers when it comes to being flavorful, followed by drumsticks and breasts.
Consumers who reported eating dark meat cuts were more interested in flavor innovation, particularly Korean and Latin American flavor profiles, than those who reported eating white meat cuts or whole poultry.
The report suggested retailers develop new recipes, including ones that are built around dark meat and feature bolder, international flavors to create excitement in the category.