NATIONAL REPORT — From making pandemic-inspired menu changes to utilizing new technology, the nation’s top convenience store retailers have shown remarkable innovation over the past year. Being able to turn on a dime and succeed, during a global pandemic, is the definition of innovation.
Each year, Convenience Store News recognizes c-store retailers that are raising the bar on quality, service and innovation in the foodservice category. Now in its 10th year, the Foodservice Innovators Awards program has been recognizing best-in-class convenience foodservice retailers since 2012. Winners are chosen annually by the CSNews Foodservice Advisory Council, a panel of category experts from the retailer, supplier, wholesaler, research and consulting fields.
The 2021 Foodservice Innovators Awards winners are:
- Foodservice Innovator of the Year: Rutter's
- Prepared Foods Innovator of the Year: The Spinx Co.
- Hot Beverages Innovator of the Year: Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K
- Cold & Frozen Beverages Innovator of the Year: 7-Eleven Inc.
- Foodservice Innovator to Watch: Family Express Corp.
This year, Rutter’s, the York, Pa.-based regional retailer known for being on the cutting-edge, leads the slate of five honorees. Rutter’s has now won the Foodservice Innovator of the Year award a record three times (previously in 2012 and 2018).
Judges on the CSNews Foodservice Advisory Council lauded Rutter’s overall approach to foodservice, from dispensed beverages to fresh prepared foods.
“They’ve always been progressive with prepared foods in general, but I think they really lifted their game in cold dispensed beverages with their Spiked Slushies and Xtreme Shakes,” said one judge. It was also noted how well Rutter’s adjusted its menu due to the pandemic (e.g., new comfort-food offerings). And the company’s approach to marketing its offerings to consumers digitally via social media, geofencing and a new loyalty app did not go unnoticed. All in all, Rutter’s paints a picture of a retailer operating on all cylinders despite the global pandemic.
All of the winners will be honored at CSNews' 2021 Convenience Foodservice Exchange event, which will take place Nov. 9-10 in Charlotte, N.C. Through expert presentations and interactive discussions, convenience foodservice operators and their supplier partners will explore the best ways to optimize sales and profits, and collaborate to develop a blueprint for foodservice success in a post-COVID-19 world.
Registration is free to all convenience retailers. Manufacturers and solution providers can participate as sponsors. For more information, visit csnewscfx.com.