C-stores Grab for a Bigger Slice of the Pizza Market


Many convenience store operators today are featuring upscale and high-quality flatbreads and pizzas, and moving away from the traditional varieties served from rotating heating racks on c-store counters. This shift signals an overall trend of upgrading foodservice offerings to better meet the changing expectations of on-the-go consumers and compete with quick-serve concepts.

Pizza is a growing foodservice category for c-stores. According to Technomic?s MenuMonitor data, appearances of pizzas on convenience store menus have grown 17 percent, from 94 listings to 110 listings, in the latest year-over-year period.

This growth indicates significant opportunity for operators to test new varieties and preparations, such as pies topped with some of the fastest-growing ingredients on c-store pizza menus, including olives and beef. These toppings are also trending at restaurants, where about 50 percent of consumers consider ordering ground beef as a topping on pizzas, while 45 percent consider ordering black olives. Both of these ingredients are often featured as a topping option on create-your-own pizzas and on specialty pizza varieties like taco and hamburger.

Several c-store chains have recently debuted more upscale pizza options. This quarter, Casey?s General Stores Inc. introduced flatbread pizzas systemwide. Customers can now order any of Casey?s large single-topping or specialty pizzas on the new flatbread crust. The chain originally tested the flatbread option at its inaugural Casey?s Pizza Express location, a pizza-only concept that opened last year.

Also this quarter, Speedway LLC reformulated its pizza slices, making them 33 percent bigger with new pizzeria-style crust and 100-percent mozzarella cheese. In addition, Maverik Inc. started getting creative with its pizza toppings, launching the BonFire BBQ Chicken Ciabatta Pizza, a small-format pizza made with barbecue sauce, chicken pieces and a blend of cheeses on a ciabatta roll-style crust.

As consumers continue to seek out more convenient foodservice options, c-stores have an opportunity to make their pizza offerings more appealing. By upgrading their toppings, introducing creative varieties and revamping existing pizza recipes, convenience stores can better establish their offerings as a true competitor to quick-serve pizza concepts.

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