Why Kwik Trip Is Foodservice Innovator of the Year

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Why Kwik Trip Is Foodservice Innovator of the Year

By Don Longo, Convenience Store News - 12/18/2015

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Kwik Trip Inc.’s strength in all aspects of the foodservice category was proven by how it was ranked by this year’s Convenience Store News Foodservice Innovators Awards judges among the top retailers in almost every award category, from Best Prepared Foods Innovator, to Best Cold & Frozen Beverages Innovator, to Best Foodservice Promotion.

Presented in partnership with Tyson Convenience, the fourth-annual CSNews Foodservice Innovators Awards recognize convenience retail chains who are raising the bar on quality, service and innovation in this fast-growing and critically important product category for c-stores.

La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip, which earned the esteemed title of Foodservice Innovator of Year, led the pack of this year’s winners — chosen by CSNews’ How To Crew panel of foodservice experts from the retailer, supplier, research and consulting fields.  

The chain with 14,000-plus coworkers serving guests in more than 475 Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Tobacco Outlet Plus stores and Hearty Platter restaurants in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. In the past half-century, Kwik Trip has become one of the c-store industry leaders in foodservice — noted for owning and operating its own food commissary, dairy, bakery and other food manufacturing facilities, as well as its own trucking fleet. The retailer also has a stellar reputation for its extreme focus on food safety and its aggressive limited-time offers.

This vertically-integrated retailer is lauded for its Kafe Karuba coffee bar, fresh display case of endcaps or islands (depending on store size), European-style bakery cases for its Kwikery Bake Shop proprietary baked goods, robust fountain area, grocery and snacking aisles, a produce department (selling millions of pounds of bananas a year), and even a fresh meat case.

Kwik Trip also offers a wide range of grab-and-go foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, most of which are produced and delivered from its own bakery and Kwik Trip Kitchen commissary. Breakfast offerings include bacon croissants, Western English muffins and sausage-and-egg sticks. The bakery supplies Kwik Trip’s signature Glazer doughnuts (think Krispy Kreme), muffins, cookies, Danish, bagels, bars and breads. For lunch and dinner, Kwik Trip sells a variety of takeaway items from its cold case, including packaged salads (in compartmentalized packages that keep the fresh salad separate from all toppings and other ingredients), sandwiches, cheese snacks and wraps. Kwik Trip also makes its own pizzas in its Kwik Trip Kitchen.

Kwik Trip’s hot dispensed beverages include a wide range of coffees, cappuccinos, lattes, steamers and hot cocoa, and the stores feature a huge selection of cold fountain drinks as well.

Kwik Trip has also been a leader in bringing healthier foods to the c-store consumer. It was one of the first c-store retailers to introduce a low-calorie, healthy menu and last year was the first c-store chain to join the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), implementing a new EATSmart program and other policies to promote healthy eating habits. Since then, other c-store retailers have followed Kwik Trip’s example and joined PHA. CSNews’ How To Crew judges lauded Kwik Trip’s effort to develop healthier-for-you foods, citing its use of whole-grain breads for its sandwiches.

On the promotion front, Kwik Trip celebrated its 50th anniversary this year by giving back to customers in the form of drink discounts and a major giveaway. During the summer, all stores offered soda and coffee for just 50 cents. In addition, customers could entered the Kwik Trip 50th Anniversary Sweepstakes by texting the word “FIFTY” to a number or by mailing a postcard and be eligible for approximately 160 prizes, representing a total value of more than $50,000.

Having been awarded the silver medal for Best Prepared Foods Innovator in 2014, Kwik Trip clearly deserves its place as this year’s Foodservice Innovator of the Year.

For more on Kwik Trip and the other 2015 Foodservice Innovator Awards winners, check out our specially created Foodservice Innovators Awards microsite at http://foodserviceinnovators.csnews.com.