CHICAGO — Five convenience store retailers that have made foodservice their top priority are winners in this year’s Convenience Store News Foodservice Innovators Awards program.
Each year, CSNews recognizes c-store retailers that are raising the bar on quality, service and innovation in the foodservice category. Now in its 12th 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 foodservice experts from the retailer, supplier, wholesaler, research and consulting fields.
The 2023 Foodservice Innovators Awards winners are:
- Foodservice Innovator of the Year: Kum & Go LC
- Prepared Foods Innovator of the Year: Dash In Food Stores
- Dispensed Beverages Innovator of the Year: Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K
- Foodservice Innovator to Watch: Curby’s Express Market
- Best Use of Technology in Foodservice Operations: High’s
This year marks the first time that Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go is being honored in the Foodservice Innovators Awards program. Judges praised the retailer’s fresh, inviting and customizable new made-to-order menu, as well as the super creative way in which the company is marketing the new program and thinking outside the box.
“They have totally transformed their foodservice menu,” said one judge. “[They] culled back on traditional items and grab-and-go; have introduced new menu items focused on fresh ingredients, made-to-order, flavor and variety with a good-for-you theme; [and are] going after new customers while maintaining core customers.”
Prepared Foods Innovator of the Year Dash In Food Stores was lauded by the judges for its comprehensive proprietary offer that competes and offers innovation in all dayparts. The La Plata, Md.-based chain was previously awarded the Foodservice Innovator to Watch award in 2018.
“A smashed burger at a c-store? Yes! A French bakery and fresh fried donut operation? Absolutely! Dash In is serious about their food,” one judge remarked.
Dispensed Beverages Innovator of the Year Alimentation Couche-Tard/Circle K is no stranger to the Foodservice Innovators Awards winner’s circle, having been honored for its hot beverage offer in 2021 and 2016, and earning the Foodservice Innovator of the Year title in 2020.
This year, judges praised Circle K’s exclusive launch of Mtn Dew Purple Thunder Polar Pop. Not only has the beverage sparked big buzz across social media, several news outlets and television shows, but it’s also been expanded from Canada to the United States and extended into a line extension for Froster, Circle K’s frozen beverage program.
Foodservice Innovator to Watch Curby’s Express Market in Lubbock, Texas, made its debut in February 2022 and earned the attention of judges for “pushing the envelope when it comes to innovation in the segment,” for going after the drive-thru business, and for its branding, which they described as terrific, memorable, enjoyable and approachable.
Last but not least, High’s is taking home the first-ever award for Best Use of Technology in Foodservice Operations — the company’s first time in the Foodservice Innovators Awards winner’s circle. The convergence of technology and foodservice operations led to the creation of this new award category, as best-in-class convenience foodservice retailers are using technology to better meet customers’ food and drink cravings, where and when they want it.
Judges lauded the Baltimore-based chain’s dual focus on food and technology in its new flagship store, which offers a variety of tech options to make the customer experience seamless and easy.
All of the winners will be honored at CSNews' 2023 Convenience Foodservice Exchange (CFX) event, which will take place May 4-5 in Nashville, Tenn. The theme of this year’s event is "Making Foodservice the Centerpiece of Your Convenience Store Business."
Attendance is by invitation only. Convenience store retailers may request an invite from CSNews Editorial Director Emeritus Don Longo at [email protected].
Sponsorships are available for suppliers, wholesalers and solution providers. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, contact CSNews Vice President and Brand Director Paula Lashinsky at [email protected] or (917) 446-4117.
For more information on CFX 2023, visit events.csnews.com/cfx2023.