The 2016 Forecast for Foodservice

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The 2016 Forecast for Foodservice

By Angela Hanson, Convenience Store News - 01/15/2016

NATIONAL REPORT — Convenience store operators continue to view foodservice as a growth category that represents a major point of opportunity in the year ahead.

A total of 82.4 percent of retailers polled by Convenience Store News as part of the 14th annual Industry Forecast Study believe their foodservice sales, which include prepared food and hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages, will increase in 2016. This marks a slight uptick from the 81.3 percent who predicted the same one year ago, showing an increased level of optimism.

Even c-store operators that do not expect to see foodservice growth have an overall positive sentiment, as 17.6 percent of respondents expect sales to stay the same. Zero respondents said they expect their foodservice sales to decrease.

"[Foodservice] will only grow for those who do it right," one retailer commented.

Although larger c-store chains have more resources to commit to a foodservice program, retailers of all sizes view the category positively. In fact, more single-store owners expect to see increased foodservice sales than chain stores, at 87.5 percent vs. 80.8 percent respectively.

This positive view of foodservice stems from improving consumer perceptions coupled with execution, according to survey respondents. Customers increasingly view c-stores as a valid meal destination, increasing the demand for quality prepared food and beverages, which in turn validates their perspective.

Foodservice has a "big upside if performed correctly," said another retailer.

Some c-stores are approaching the category cautiously, testing items and adding foodservice only to certain stores rather than a full-scale rollout. Others anticipate a high rate of growth and in fact have created new management positions to spearhead the category.

Retailers point to ethnic food as a potential big trend in 2016.

For full results of our 14th annual Forecast Study, including dollar and unit projections in other key c-store product categories, look in the January issue of Convenience Store News.