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VIDEO: Delving Into C-store Beverage Retailing

CHICAGO -- Retailers at the inaugural Convenience Store News Beverage Retailing Summit heard encouraging news of opportunity and growth in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. As a group, they reported significant increases in beer sales, as well as growth in energy drinks and other cooler staples.

After a flat few years, beer sales have grown thanks to new product innovation, according to Danny Brager, vice president, group client director, Beverage Alcohol Team at Nielsen. Brager tapped into the latest intelligence about alcoholic beverages in his presentation at the September event, held in Chicago.

C-stores now represent 53 percent of total packaged beer sales (excluding liquor stores), with dollar sales growing nearly 4 percent and volume sales growing 4.4 percent in the 52 weeks as of mid-August for sales and early July for volume. Behind most of this growth are new items. A significant 60 percent of current beer products did not exist five years ago, Brager noted. Indeed, new items account for 10 percent of beer category dollar sales today.

New super premium and premium light items have especially performed well in c-stores compared to all other retail outlets.

Convenience retailers from across the nation gathered for the CSNews Beverage Retailing Summit, the industry's first event to take a holistic view of c-store beverage retailing from packaged and alcoholic beverages to fountain and frozen dispensed drinks. The event included presentations from the Nielsen Beverage Alcohol Team on opportunities for c-store retailers in beer, wine and spirits, and from event sponsor Red Bull North America on the future of energy drinks.

In addition to Red Bull, the Summit was sponsored by Wilbur Curtis Co., Domino Foods Inc. Foodservice, Insight Beverages, New Whey Nutrition, Parish Manufacturing, Scotsman Ice Systems and WhiteWave Foods.

Retailer participants included representatives from 10 of the industry's largest and most innovative chains, including BP ampm, Alimentation Couche-Tard's Circle K Stores unit, RaceTrac Petroleum, Giant Eagle/GetGo, VPS Convenience Group, Thorntons, Tedeschi Food Shops, Wawa, Casey's General Stores and Hill City Oil. Wholesaler Eby-Brown also contributed to the roundtable discussions.

The wide-ranging discussion at the CSNews Beverage Retailing Summit touched upon retailer frustration over the challenge of managing their own space in the cold vault; specialty coffee innovations; and providing consumers with more choice and customization at the fountain area.

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