Convenience Focus on Fresh Prepared Foods Wins Consumers

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Convenience Focus on Fresh Prepared Foods Wins Consumers


CHICAGO -- More convenience stores are concentrating on offering a greater variety of fresh, high-quality foods, leading to increased competition as stores seek to go up against fast-food restaurants, according to Technomic Inc.'s Convenience Store Market Intelligence Report, which examines how c-stores fit into the overall foodservice picture. The $10.9 billion c-store foodservice industry is a key area of opportunity for c-stores across the United States.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers say they have purchased prepared foods from c-stores, while approximately one-third of consumers who visit c-stores for fresh-food items purchase them at least once a week from these stores.

More c-stores are also leveraging branded restaurants. Subway and McDonald's have locations built into some c-stores to capitalize on convenience and foot traffic, but more progressive c-store chains are developing and integrating their own branded restaurants transforming the perception of purchasing prepared food at a convenience store, according to the report.

"Prepared food is a growth opportunity for convenience stores willing to raise the bar on quality and key attributes sought by today's consumers," said Technomic Senior Director Donna Hood Crecca. "Consumers say they would visit convenience stores more often for prepared foods if those foodservice areas were improved upon. Customizing their offerings and a more appealing decor and atmosphere could enhance the experience."

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Three-fourths of consumers (76 percent) who purchase prepared foods from convenience stores report that these locations provide a convenient option.
  • Two-fifths of consumers say they would visit convenience stores for prepared foods more often if freshness and quality were improved.
  • C-stores top other types of retail locations for breakfast patronage, and c-stores are the only segment to see a significant increase in this patronage over the past few years, likely driven by coffee purchases.
  • Entrees make up more than half of c-store items, with their share of the menu expanding significantly to 51 percent during the second quarter of 2013, up from 47 percent a year earlier. Sandwiches remain the top breakfast entree.