Forecast 2019: The Prognosis for Foodservice
NATIONAL REPORT — With foodservice having grown into one of the most valuable categories in the convenience store industry, it's no surprise that retailers continue to be enthusiastic about its future.
Positive expectations for both dollar sales and unit volume are up, with 83 percent of retailers saying they expect their foodservice dollar sales per store to increase in 2019 (compared to 78 percent a year ago) and 78.7 percent saying they expect their unit volume to increase (compared to 77.4 percent a year ago). A miniscule 4.1 percent believe their foodservice dollar sales will decline and 3.1 percent believe their unit volume will decline, according to the results of the 2019 Convenience Store News Forecast Study.
Retailers surveyed anticipate a healthy net change in foodservice sales, which includes prepared food and hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages. Overall, they expect a 6-percent increase in dollar sales and a 5.9-percent increase in unit volume in 2019.
While c-store operators are largely unified in their sentiment about the foodservice category's future, they did cite a wide variety of trends that they expect to have a sizeable impact this year. Numerous retailers pointed to healthier options and items with clean-label attributes, such as GMO-free. Adding new menu items to cater to consumers' hunger for variety should boost both dollar sales and unit volume, according to some respondents.
The increasing acceptance of c-stores as a food destination and the availability of third-party delivery services are also positive indicators of category growth.
"Increased meal plan sales always equal increased foodservice sales," said one retailer.
The 17th annual CSNews Forecast Study includes a Retailer Forecast and Supplier Forecast, both based on the results of a survey fielded in November 2018. Participants were asked to predict 2019 sales per store for a variety of product categories, as well as to share their opinions on overall business, economic and consumer trends. The Forecast Study also provides dollar and unit volume projections in key c-store product categories.