Couche-Tard Trials Gourmet Foods in Canada

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Couche-Tard Trials Gourmet Foods in Canada

LAVAL, Quebec -- Alimentation Couche-Tard, operator of more than 5,200 convenience stores in North America, is testing out future food offerings -- including gourmet salads, fresh fruit, hot meals and sushi -- at Mac's convenience stores in Western Canada, reports the Montreal Gazette.

In a similar strategy to its U.S. rival 7-Eleven, Couche-Tard is boosting the sale of fresh foods and adding fresh prepared meals similar to those found in supermarkets, CFO Richard Fortin told the paper.

"This is a must for everyone," he said. "This is the next step for Couche-Tard."

Customers are buying the products all day long, the report stated. "It's doing very well," said Fortin.

If the products continue to see success, they might become widely available, he said. Fresh food makes up 11 percent of Couche-Tard's sales, and the company intends to boost that figure to 15 percent during the next three years, according to Fortin.

In addition to Mac's, the retailer also operates Couche-Tard and Circle K stores in the U.S. and Canada.

7-Eleven held taste tests for employees of its new foodservice products which included papaya-mango fruit cups with chili-lime spice and turkey capicolla wraps with basil spread at its University of 7-Eleven at the Dallas Convention Center, CSNews Online reported in mid-February.

"Fresh food is growing, absolutely, and it continues to grow," John Vaughan, fresh food category manager for 7-Eleven, Inc., told the Dallas Morning News at the time. "It's the customer lifestyle. What we have to offer is convenience."

For the chain, fresh food makes up more than 10 percent of sales, rivaled only by beer and wine, according to Vaughan.

"We really think that fresh food is a huge growth opportunity for 7-Eleven," Margaret Chabris, company spokeswoman, told the newspaper. "We'd like to see it grow to 30 percent."