2019 sales data collected by information and data firm Nielsen showed 871.8 million pounds of hot dogs were sold at U.S. retail stores, representing over $2.3 billion in sales. Nearly 1.1 billion pounds of dinner sausages accounted for sales exceeding $3.9 billion, and breakfast sausages, more than 316.7 million pounds with sales of $1.21 billion.
The 4% year-over-year sales surge in dinner sausages can be at least partly attributed to consumers’ interest in going beyond the traditional Italian and bratwurst to varieties from other cultures such as andouille (smoked sausage made using pork) and chorizo, reported Eric Mittenthal, president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. As for hot dogs, consumers are looking for “simpler labels and natural ingredients,” he said.
Roller Grill Appeal
Hoping to upsell customers to higher ring sandwich/deli items, B-Quik, the convenience store division of Benny’s Car Wash with three locations in Louisiana, removed its large roller grills and replaced them with hot dog rotisseries, said David Schumaker, general manager, B-Quik. The result was a slight uplift in hot dog sales, but an overall decrease in foodservice sales.
“People think synonymously of a roller grill in convenience stores,” Schumaker explained.
Several weeks ago, B-Quik stores installed two 24-inch roller grills, one for hot dogs and sausages all day and the other for Tornados and other breakfast and lunch items, a bun warmer and plenty of space for a staging area in between where customers can dress up their dogs and other items with condiments. The breakfast/lunch grill is set up at 5 a.m., then changed over for lunch at 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. The grills hold up to 12 items. B-Quik offers three to six varieties of items on each grill at a time.
“We think we may have offered too much product when we had the larger grills and too little when we just had the hot dog rotisseries, so we are hoping that this time we have hit on the right amount,” Schumaker said.
Breakfast is the strongest daypart for roller grill sales at B-Quik. To encourage sales of multiples, the stores price all the roller grill items the same, making mixing and matching easier and more appealing.
“We’re merchandising them that way with the goal of getting at least a $3 ring,” Schumaker said.
Although customers do enjoy seeing new items on the roller grill, “probably 80% have their favorites, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint them by not having them available,” he noted.
A new item, Schumaker said, might spark them to get an auxiliary item to go with their favorite.