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Turkey Takes Off


It’s time to talk turkey. According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor database, turkey mentions in entrées on convenience store menus increased 11.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

Turkey dishes are popular among consumers for their perceived healthfulness. Technomic found in its 2015 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report that 61 percent of respondents consider turkey to be healthier than beef or pork, and 30 percent think it’s healthier than chicken.

Despite turkey’s better-for-you perception, frequency of consumption is low. Only 51 percent of customers eat turkey at least occasionally compared to 88 percent for chicken, 82 percent for beef and 62 percent for pork. The reason: turkey is not offered at the restaurants they visit. MenuMonitor data shows only 47.8 percent of restaurants offer turkey.

While not menued at all restaurants, turkey is offered at the majority of convenience stores (60 percent). The most commonly menued turkey option at c-stores is sandwiches, likely due to the item’s portability and popularity at lunchtime.

Several c-store operators have added turkey sandwiches in the last few months. RaceTrac debuted two turkey sandwiches in March: a Southwest Turkey Ciabatta Sandwich and a Turkey Club Pretzel Sandwich. Tedeschi Food Shops also introduced two turkey handhelds recently: a Blackened Turkey Pepper Sandwich and a Bold Blackened Turkey Caesar Wrap.

Turkey-based substitutes are also appearing on c-store menus. Earlier this year, GetGo debuted flatbread sandwiches with fewer than 300 calories, available with proteins such as turkey and turkey sausage.

Many customers want turkey: The Poultry Consumer Trend Report found that about a third of customers would order turkey-based substitutes for lunch and dinner, and 28 percent believe restaurants should offer turkey-based substitutes for breakfast.

C-store operators should capitalize on restaurants’ lack of turkey options by menuing turkey dishes to attract turkey-seeking and health-minded customers. An original turkey item or substituting heavier protein options with turkey can ramp up the options and the health perception of convenience store foodservice offerings.

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