Convenience Stores To Focus on Food in 2012

January 12, 2012

CHICAGO—Convenience stores (c-stores) are not typically recognized for their food selections, but as tobacco and gas prices rise, fewer people are spending money on these items and other c-store staples. In the January 2012 issue of Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Digital Editor Kelly Hensel writes that c-stores are beginning to shift their attention to growing their food/beverage and foodservice segments in order to compete with quick service restaurant chains.

According to data from Symphony IRI Group, the c-store channel is expected to see a growth rate of about 3 percent between 2010 and 2012, and one of the key drivers of this expansion are foodservice items. Technomic Director Tim Powell says that recently convenience stores are increasingly falling into the same consideration set as fast food restaurants. As technology and food innovation continue, c-stores will continue to capitalize on the opportunity to present consumers with better quality products with do-it-yourself customization.

C-stores are well known for their coffee bars that offer customers a way to make their coffee the way they like it. Some chains switched to a thermal dispensing system last year in order to keep coffee fresh tasting. In addition some c-stores offer hot tea reaching the previously untapped demographic of female consumers and those 50 years and older. It’s the hope that by getting consumers in the door with beverages, they will also end up choosing one of their many new food items such as breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs, made-to-order sandwiches, soups, etc.

Snacking is also becoming a key driver for all c-stores. According to a survey by Snack Factory more Americans would prefer to reach for snacks throughout the day instead of having three solid meals. Pairing foods with beverages is also a popular way c-stores can drive profits. Also due to the shifting paradigm of what is considered a snack, for example a hot dog or pizza slice as a snack instead of a meal can increase traffic at c-stores throughout the day.

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About IFT
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT's mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.

For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit ift.org.

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