Elevating Foodservice

Today's consumers are demanding more and c-stores are rising to the challenge

Convenience store foodservice has evolved to the point where it's not enough for retailers just to have some kind of offering to fill the niche. Now that consumers are more trusting of foodservice in c-stores, their standards are much higher and the stakes have been raised.

Several industry chains are rising to the challenge by elevating their foodservice programs. In this special Cover Story package, we begin by taking an individual look at three such chains — Tedeschi Food Shops Inc., the Army Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and Rutter's Farm Stores — that have existing foodservice programs, but are now amping them up.

Tedeschi is doing so by placing a focus on health and wellness through its recently launched "400 Calories or Less" menu. Meanwhile, AAFES is investigating ways to better match its foodservice offerings with the needs of its on-the-go customers, starting with the rollout of an island cooler that's chock full of enticing grab-and-go options. Finally, Rutter's has jumped into the specialty end of dispensed beverages with a new high-end coffee bar that allows customers to add different flavorings, syrups, sauces and toppings to both hot and iced drinks.

While these three chains are just a snapshot of the rise of convenience store foodservice, savvy c-store operators are well aware that competing retail channels — drugstores, for instance — are watching this evolution with interest as they, too, step into the food fight. That's why our Cover Story package includes a competitive watch on Walgreen Co.'s Up Market foodservice concept. If you haven't already seen it, you're likely to soon as the chain brings it to more stores.

To fend off the current competition, as well as new competitors that are sure to pop up, it's becoming vital for the convenience store industry as a whole to identify and share best practices in foodservice. The Convenience Store News 2013 Foodservice Summit, presented in partnership with Tyson Foods, brought leading retailers together for this very purpose. In-depth coverage of the Summit and the insights that emerged from it can be found in the following pages.

As a final point, because so many c-stores are elevating foodservice, the channel is attracting the attention of branded foodservice providers, particularly sandwich chain franchisors. Well-known brands such as Blimpie, Subway and Quiznos are all targeting the convenience channel for expansion. The final story in our Cover Story package examines what's driving this trend.

We hope these stories get the wheels turning on how you, too, can bring your foodservice program to the next level. As always, CSNews will strive to keep you ahead of what's next.

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