Rutter's New Way to Put Snack Sales in the Bag


YORK, Pa. — Rutter's Farm Stores is rolling out a new strategy of "attacking snacking" with the Jan. 17 introduction of a new grab-and-go pouch for hot fresh-food items.

Developed with a company that offers state-of-the-art packaging, the Rutter's-branded bag is breathable, microwavable and resealable, holds heat well, and has a handle for optimum convenience and freshness.

"I think it's a breakthrough, and I don't say that all the time," Ryan Krebs, director of foodservice for Rutter's, told Convenience Store News. He noted that the difference between what the bag offers vs. what packaging was previously on the market is "worlds apart."

The bag sits in the hot hold kiosk, offering the appeal of freshly cooked items such as chicken wings and mozzarella sticks, but without forcing customers to wait several minutes for their order to be freshly prepared. Along with making foodservice-focused shopping trips easier for consumers, this helps out high-volume stores during busy periods such as dinnertime.

"I've seen so many things people have tried that just don't seem to work," Krebs said of the bag's development process. Many kinds of hot food carryout packaging uses cardboard with a plastic window for integrity, but results in greasy, soggy food due to a lack of ventilation.

Rutter's new bag is "sturdy but incredibly thin" and has ventilation holes to avoid trapping steam inside, keeping the product crispy. The window allows customers to see the product, and the branding serves as a miniature walking billboard.

"I didn't want to minimize Rutter's quality by just selling more product," Krebs said, adding that he wants Rutter's customers to visit the stores for "a hot snack, a quality snack," and not just packaged snacks like candy and potato chips.

The bag functions particularly well with potato-based products, as it prevents starch-heavy items from turning soggy. This allows store employees to more easily upsell items like French fries as a side item to a burger or other entrée.

With the launch of the bag, Rutter's is adding 13 new items to its hot grab-and-go program: mozzarella sticks, BBQ beef short ribs, chicken wings, sweet corn bites, onion rings, fried sweet bologna, jalapeno and cheese bites, French fries, boneless chicken chunks, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese bites, hash browns and fried pickles. This brings the company's total offerings to 83 items. Portion-controlled dip cups with different sauce flavors are placed next to the hot hold kiosk.

The bag, which is the culmination of two years of effort, will be in place at 53 Rutter's stores, or all of its locations with foodservice kiosks.

"This one I am excited about even though it's a bag," Krebs said. "It just screams technology and advancement."

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