C-Stores Become Food Destinations as Consumers Seek Convenience

Published on: 04/15/2018 in C-Store


Americans’ busy, on-the go lifestyles are having a profound impact on eating behavior1 in this country. As consumers struggle to balance their demanding schedules, food that offers on-the- go convenience will have increased appeal. This is evident as more people turn to snacks in place of meals, seek out grab-and- go foods and look to convenience stores as food destinations.

Convenience stores set a record last year with $233 billion worth of in-store sales with foodservice accounting for 22%, or $52 billion, of those sales.2 Freshly prepared food and packaged sandwiches account for $35 billion of that total. There is huge opportunity for convenience store operators to leverage these foodservice trends and drive sales.3

Many c-stores have already transitioned to a food forward operation to include a variety of fresh foods such as sandwiches, wraps, salads and cut fruit, as well as ethnic, vegetarian and gluten-free foods.2 It’s time to tap into the profit potential of foodservice.


Today, 80% of consumers snack at least once a day and 37% believe any food can be considered a snack if the portion size is small.4 According to Datassential, consumers, on average, eat about four to five snack foods a day.1 And while they may think they are consuming healthy foods like fruit, nuts, yogurt and veggies, they are actually eating more salty and crunchy snacks.1 Interestingly enough, high-protein snacks like artisanal jerky and meat and cheese snack packs are becoming popular as they align with consumers’ demand for more protein5 and offer satisfying flavor with healthier attributes.

While c-stores will always be a go-to stop for convenient grab-and- go snacks, more people are turning to convenience stores as a full-on foodservice destination. The line between c- store foodservice, QSR and fast casual operations is blurring. In fact, c-store foodservice is now the primary driver for consumers’ in-store purchases in the past 12 months.6

Research shows that the frequency of consumers purchasing a meal at a c-store has increased by 13.2 % since 2012.6 When selecting a c-store to purchase a meal, consumers cite price, quality, speed and variety as their top decision drivers.6 Whether preparing on-site or having food delivered from off-site proprietary kitchens, food should offer on-trend appeal, quality ingredients and convenience.

Menu items like main dish salads and ethnic cuisine, especially Asian and Mexican fare gained sales, as did breaded chicken items like chicken nuggets, chicken strips and chicken sandwiches.7 Like restaurants, c-stores are seeing a boost in bowl meals, up more than 3% since Q2 2017.8 Bowl meals offer a flavorful, filling and portable solution for consumers seeking grab-and- go meals throughout the day.

The world’s largest c-store chain, 7-Eleven, recently started offering a variety of new bowls including Chipotle Chicken, Asian style Beef & Broccoli and Early Riser Scrambler Bowls. GetGo, a Pittsburgh-based c-store chain, has also introduced bowls like Chicken & Vegetable Fried Rice and Spicy Red Thai Chicken Curry—all available in it’s Great to Go case.


Much like the rest of the industry, better-for- you has become a key motivator for consumer purchase.6 Consumers will seek out transparency in c-stores, just as they do in restaurants and grocery stores. To stay competitive, operators will need to demonstrate their commitment to serving quality proteins and fresh, healthy produce.

Set yourself apart by offering elevated menu items with PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® chicken and turkey, which contain NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER, no animal by-products and are raised on a 100% vegetarian diet. This portfolio of wholesome proteins can help differentiates your operation and meet consumers’ ever-growing demand.

If you’re looking to offer a range of price points that still satisfy consumer demand, consider CLUX DELUX® from Perdue Foodservice. Top quality and great value come together in the form of Perdue Foodservice’s CLUX DELUX® line. You can choose from a variety of grilled, original, and hot & spicy breaded chicken filets, breast chunks and tenders. Plus, recognizable branded sandwich bags and cartons make it easy to lure customers to your grab-and- go chicken offerings.

Today’s c-stores have become go-to food destinations for busy Americans seeking satisfying snacks and on-the- go meals. With the demand for convenience growing everyday, there is huge potential in c-store foodservice. Now’s the time to take advantage of the fact that c-store foodservice has become a prime category for capturing new customers and driving sales growth.

1 Food Dive, “Consumers Eat More When Food is a ‘Snack,’ but will Brands Change Their Marketing,” 11/10/17, https://www.fooddive.com/news/grocery--consumers-eat-more-when-food-is-a-snack-but-will-brands-change-their-market/510103/
2 Food Dive, “C-Stores are Selling More Snacks, Drinks and Prepared Foods than Ever,” 4/10/17, https://www.fooddive.com/news/grocery--c-stores-are-selling-more-snacks-drinks-and-prepared-foods-than-ever/440105/
3 Convenience Store News, “Six Ways Today’s C-stores are Redefining ‘Convenience,’” 10/5/17, https://csnews.com/six-ways-todays-c-stores-are-redefining-convenience
4 Technomic, “Snacks Increasingly Replacing Meals for Consumers,” 3/6/18, https://www.technomic.com/snacks-increasingly-replacing-meals-consumers
5 Mintel, “5 Trends Spotted at NACS Show 2017,” 10/26/17, http://www.mintel.com/blog/foodservice-market-news/5-trends-spotted-at-nacs-show-2017
6 Convenience Store Decisions, “Dazzling Customers Across All Dayparts,” 11/22/17, https://www.cstoredecisions.com/2017/11/22/dazzling-customers-across-dayparts/
7 IFMA, “Foodservice Fundamentals: Fast Track Seminar,” February 2018
8 CSP, “Menu Trend to Watch: Bowl Meals,” 2017, http://www.cspdailynews.com/category-news/foodservice/articles/menu-trend-watch-bowl-meals