5 Healthiest C-Store Chains

By 
Jill Failla, Editor, Technomic

Healthy sandwich

CHICAGO -- Healthy resolutions are top of mind in the New Year, but customers still want their food to be convenient and fast. As such, the convenience stores offering the healthiest prepared food options may have a leg up this quarter.

Consumers recently surveyed for Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics (CBM) program reveal their top five picks for the healthiest c-stores.

All five of the chains on this list offer a selection of fresh, made-to-order food items. Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report finds that consumers increasingly associate fresh and housemade claims with health, pointing to a strong correlation between health perception and fresh preparation.

CBM scores are based on the percentage of recent customers who said a chain does a “very good” job of offering healthy options. Here are the top five healthiest c-store chains, ranked from fifth to first … 

5. Ricker’s

Ricker’s

Score: 42.3%

Over two-fifths of recent customers say Ricker’s does a very good job with its availability of healthy menu items, placing this chain in the fifth spot overall. Last June, Ricker’s began expanding its food offerings to include a variety of fresh, made-to-order breakfast, lunch and dinner options, including deli sandwiches and salads.

4. Wawa

Wawa

Score: 43.5%

Wawa is another chain offering fresh, built-to-order fare. This past year, the chain launched a kale and quinoa salad to keep pace with the demand for fresh and trendy ingredients, according to Michael Sherlock, vice president of fresh food and beverage.

The chain’s availability of healthy options at breakfast boosts its overall customer health ranking, as 44.6% of recent customers who stopped in for breakfast say the chain does a very good job offering healthy items.

3. Fas Mart

Fas Mart

Score: 44.4%

This brand is known for its fresh, never-frozen fried chicken, but it expanded its foodservice program back in 2013 to include healthier options, including salads, sandwiches, made-to-order panini and yogurt parfaits made on-site.

Women helped put Fas Mart on the top five list—with 54.4% of ladies giving the chain a very good rating for healthy choices. Nearly half of young consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 (47.8%) say the same. Slightly more consumers who visited for lunch than those who visited for other dayparts describe Fas Mart’s menu selection as healthy.

2. Family Express

Family Express

Score: 47.8%

Family Express earned the number two spot due in large part to its healthy lunch options. About two-thirds of consumers (65%) who recently visited for lunch say that this chain does a very good job of offering healthy options. Younger consumers are slightly more likely than their older counterparts to rate Family Express as healthy, with 49.1% of 18- to 34-year-olds saying the chain does a very good job of offering healthy options.

This chain unveiled a made-to-order foodservice program featuring hot food options last fall, and began giving away free fruit to children last summer. Kids under 12 can now receive a free apple, banana or pear in any Family Express convenience store.

1. Rutter's Farm Stores

Rutter's Farm Stores

Score: 47.9%

Rutter’s Farm Stores narrowly topped Family Express as the healthiest c-store chain, according to consumers. Rutter’s foodservice program offers fully customizable wraps and sandwiches, in addition to fruit parfaits and handmade salads. The chain launched a made-to-order pizza program last summer.

Similar to other chains in the top five, Rutter’s lunch program also resonates as healthy with consumers. Over half of recent customers (54.7%) who visited for lunch say it does a very good job of offering healthy options. Women (51.1%) and millennials (56.9%) are driving up this c-store chain’s overall health score as well.