C-store Retailers Exchange Ideas on Present & Future Foodservice Trends

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C-store Retailers Exchange Ideas on Present & Future Foodservice Trends


DALLAS — The theme for the 2019 Convenience Store News Convenience Foodservice Exchange was “Today’s Challenges; Tomorrow’s Opportunities.” The event, held June 19-20 in Dallas, addressed the challenges that c-store retailers face today as they evolve their operations to take advantage of growth opportunities in foodservice. At the same time, the event looked ahead to help retailers envision what the future might look like — both from a consumer and operator perspective.

Beth Brickel, senior research director of the EnsembleIQ Insights & Innovation team, opened the conference by sharing the results of a national consumer survey undertaken expressly for this conference. The survey provided insights around such important questions as:

  • How is convenience perceived as a prepared food solution relative to other options, such as QSR, grocery and home delivery?
  • What opportunities exist for c-stores to convert or gain share from fast-food and grocery consumers?

More research was presented by Mark DiDomenico, director of customer solutions at Datassential. He outlined essential food and ingredient trends that are impacting foodservice operators’ menus.

Four “Foodservice on the Move” sessions covered key topics to improve c-stores’ business. These included a special joint presentation by Erica Flint of Kwik Trip Inc. and Amy Slechta of the Partnership for a Healthier America on the important work they are doing to fight child obesity.

Other “Foodservice on the Move” sessions included:

  • Tim Powell of Q1 Consulting, who examined the plant-based food trend;
  • John Matthews of Gray Cat Enterprises, who helped retailers evaluate the pros and cons of a branded vs. proprietary foodservice program; and
  • Howland Blackiston of King-Casey on optimizing your menu and menu communications.

A highlight of the 2019 Convenience Foodservice Exchange was a panel of four c-store retailers who are redefining the convenience shopping experience. Ryan Riggs of Alltown Fresh, Ed Burcher of FriendShip Food Stores, Joe Hamza of Nouria Energy Corp. and Rachel Krupa of The Goods Mart provided in-depth looks at how their new store concepts are changing the way consumers view convenience stores, especially in the area of fresh food.

New this year was three “Innovation Zone” sessions designed to help retailers design a blueprint for the future of convenience foodservice. Experts from Dawn Foods, Avery Dennison and Paytronix Systems led interactive discussions around key trends in baked goods, how new technology can enhance food safety and sustainability, loyalty programs and mobile payment.

Also new this year was lunch table topic discussions. The event’s sponsors provided intriguing topics to inspire great conversation among attendees while enjoying their meal.

This year’s program also featured one of the favorite segments from the past two years: one-on-one interactive business development meetings. These structured networking meetings allow attendees to explore the topics that are most important to them.

During the conference, CSNews Editorial Director and conference emcee Don Longo teamed up with Mike Lawshe, CEO of design firm Paragon Solutions, to lead a workshop on future c-store and travel center design trends, with a particular focus on foodservice.

And after the event’s opening cocktail reception, Longo presented the CSNews Foodservice Leader of the Year award. This year’s winner was Paul Servais, foodservice director at La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip, which operates more than 600 stores in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Kwik Trip has been a leading innovator in foodservice for many years, especially with its vertically integrated supply chain, central commissary and bakery production facility.

The CSNews Convenience Foodservice Exchange was attended by c-store retailers from across the foodservice expertise spectrum, from Wawa Inc. to Circle K to numerous midsize up-and-comers.

The event’s sponsors included:  

  • Applied Data Corp.
  • Autofry/MTI
  • Convenience Works by Hussmann
  • Blimpie Americas
  • King & Prince Seafood
  • Rich Products
  • Avery Dennison
  • Dawn Food Products
  • Paytronix Systems
  • Kressner Strategy Group
  • Seda International Packaging Group