Seen on the NACS Show Floor: Foodservice

ATLANTA — More than 23,500 individuals from 69 countries attended the 2019 NACS Show in Atlanta, which delivered four days of learning, insights, networking, and exploring what’s new and exciting for the global convenience and fuel retailing industry.

As always, one of the highlights of NACS Show 2019 was the expo floor, which this year spanned 425,000-plus net square feet and featured more than 1,200 exhibitors, from startups to big brands. The expo floor also included the New Exhibitor Area, 20,000 square feet of dedicated expo space spotlighting more than 200 companies brand-new to the show; and an all-new CBD Pavilion, a partitioned section of the expo that showcased hemp-derived CBD products from 50 industry suppliers. 

The Convenience Store News editorial staff was out in force meeting with suppliers and checking out all the expo floor happenings. Here’s our rundown of the top foodservice takeaways:

On-Trend New Products

Premium products, better-for-you options and items made with clean label ingredients were prevalent among supplier exhibitors in the foodservice section of the expo.

Rich's Foodservice showcased a number of on-trend offerings, such as the Maple Waffle Flatbread, which can be used as an ingredient in both sweet and savory items; Individually Wrapped Specialty Sandwich Cookies, which feature a cleaner label and transparent packaging; Jacqueline’s Vegan Cookie Dough for non-meat eaters; and Ready to Stretch Sheeted Pizza Dough, which delivers labor savings as well as freshness.

Hot and spicy remains a major flavor trend, with multiple companies upping the level of heat among their offerings. Krispy Krunchy Chicken sampled its "Perfectly Cajun" seasoning sprinkle, while Tyson Convenience noted that its 5 Alarm Sausage is suitable for "those looking for a challenge," and it’s expanding its Nashville Hot Chicken variety.

Hunt Brothers Pizza touted the benefits of limited-time offers (LTOs), explaining that consumers are accustomed to items in certain categories rotating by the season, and this primes them to be interested in new and returning LTOs. Hunt Brothers runs LTOs on a quarterly basis, with the pies coming pre-topped to cut down on training and labor expenses. The supplier aims to introduce one brand-new LTO per year, with Chicken Alfredo next up in the spring.

In dispensed beverages, coffee suppliers report cold brew has gained mainstream acceptance, while bean-to-cup is among the hottest equipment trends. Single-origin brews are also in demand, with more suppliers promoting their socially responsible partnerships with farmers.

New coffee innovation on display included functional brews like Ronnoco's Vita Jolt vitamin enhanced coffee; unique flavor variations like S&D Coffee & Tea's Unicorn Cappuccino; and ConvenienceWorks by Hussmann’s Smart Exchange locker that allows easy pickup for mobile orders.

The NACS Show also featured the debut of the newly combined Performance Food Group Co. (PFG) and Eby-Brown Co. LLC. Six months since PFG acquired Eby-Brown, the newly combined organization took the wraps off its first collaborations: a pizza program and a barbecue program.

The new Eby-Brown pizza program features Performance Foodservice branded offerings, including its exclusive Bacio cheese, as well as its Roma, Luigi and Piancone brands.

The new Eby-Brown component barbecue program features Performance Foodservice products from its West Creek and Heritage Ovens brands. The menu includes pulled pork, pulled chicken and beef brisket, available in six different on-trend flavor profiles.

The 2019 NACS Show took place Oct. 1-4 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.