Five Takeaways From CDA Marketplace 2024

Consumers are looking for value this year, as well as new products that cater to their dietary and flavor preferences.
Angela Hanson
c-store shopping basket

TAMPA, Fla. — The Convenience Distribution Association's (CDA) 2024 Marketplace show brought together distributors, retailers and suppliers to network, discuss pain points and get ready for a year that promises both challenge and opportunity.

The late February event featured a series of distributor-focused education sessions, CDA's annual awards presentations, and a one-day turnkey trade show that highlighted many of this year's top trending products.

Here are some of Convenience Store News' top takeaways from the event:

1. Value > Price

Inflation may be slowing, but consumers still feel the economic pinch, and some are wary of a potential recession. During the remainder of 2024, retailers and distributors must focus on value and giving consumers what they want. 

[Read more: CDA Marketplace Highlights Teamwork & Added Value]

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Paul Reilly, a sales expert, speaker and writer, noted that if customers view something as a need, they will be more likely to focus on price. Value-added selling can help companies leverage their expertise, reputation, capability, longevity and other attributes for long-term benefit.

2. Fresh, Healthy & Simple Are On the Rise

Less is more. Suppliers are ready to help convenience retailers meet consumers where they are by offering snackable fresh items. Seen on the show floor were Arctic Apples' packaged apple slices, which offer a fresh-cut taste and a multiweek shelf life, and product lines like Bob's Bars, which feature short, simple ingredient lists. C-stores have ample opportunities to cater to both health-minded consumers and spur-of-the-moment snackers.

3. Plant-Based is Still Growing

Similar to healthy snacks, plant-based prepared food items may be niche, but they're still on the menu. Companies such as Conagra Brands are switching up c-store classics with products like its Gardein line of Chick'n Tenders. Retailers should conduct detailed market research, so they know their market inside out and can gauge whether meat alternatives are worth offering.

4. Brand Extensions Are Getting Creative

Candy and snack brands, which drive a majority of impulse purchases at c-stores, are coming up with new ways for consumers to enjoy more of what they already like — with a twist. At the show, Mars Wrigley showcased Skittles Littles, a tinier version of the classic, while its Snickers brand has a new Snickers Pecan variety. A Snickers Hi-Protein Bar is also available for those who want a functional version of their favorite candy bar.

5. Spicy is Still In

No change here — whether it's a Generation Z-driven preference or just a long-running trend, spicy flavors are expected to sell well in 2024 across numerous snack categories. This includes jerky as brands roll out more meat snacks flavored with red pepper, chili and other seasonings that bring the heat.

The 2024 CDA Marketplace took place Feb. 26-28 at the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street in Tampa. 

About the Author

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson is Senior Editor of Convenience Store News. She joined the brand in 2011. Angela spearheads most of CSNews’ industry awards programs and authors numerous special news reports. In 2016, she took over the foodservice beat, a critical category for the c-store industry. 

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