2021 Category Captain for Prepared Food: Rich Products

Rich's commissioned research to help c-store operators maintain strong baked-goods sales during the pandemic.

Aiming to be a resource for every operator’s foodservice needs, Rich's hosted two c-store virtual roundtables in 2020 that enabled 25 store leaders to share best practices and develop solutions. The supplier and retailers shared challenges, strategies and approaches to new product innovation and new ventures.

To help c-store operators maintain strong baked-goods sales during the pandemic, Rich’s commissioned research on "Reimagining the C-Store Bakery Case." A coronavirus research study by Datassential found that less than half of consumers trust other shoppers at c-stores; therefore, it's no surprise that two out of five consumers consider self-service bakery items to be unsafe and more than 90 percent of consumers think c-stores need to make changes to their current safety measures as a response to the pandemic. Rich's shared this research with c-stores and offered solutions, such as: incorporating visual cues communicating safety and sanitation, more protective packaging, and implementation of a virtual bakery case through apps for curbside pickup or delivery.

Additionally, in June 2020, Rich's conducted a weeklong "Talking Toppings" study to explore the impact of COVID-19 on consumer perceptions, preferences and purchase behaviors around customized beverages in c-stores. The study helped identify a need for c-stores to shift consumers’ view on topped beverages from functional to emotional, and offer enhanced beverage stations with multiple topping options that enable customers to craft custom drinks.

With consumers eating more comfort foods — like pizza — while also seeking healthy and better-for-you foods, Rich's offered products key to a c-store’s foodservice success during the pandemic. Rich's plant-based pizza crusts, for example, allow c-stores to meet both those consumer needs. The supplier recently launched an expanded plant-based pizza and flatbread portfolio, with each product composed of at least 20 percent vegetables.

With the help of Rich's, a Midwest c-store chain grew its pizza by the slice and whole pizza program by 14 percent in same-store sales. Offering Rich’s pizza for hot grab-and-go, online ordering and select drive-thru locations helped achieve this growth.

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