A Healthy Opportunity

Consumers want healthier food options at convenience stores, says Technomic

CHICAGO -- Convenience stores score solid marks for providing a variety of tasty, high-quality items, but there is room for improvement in the area of healthy foods, say consumers. A new report from foodservice consultant Technomic finds that just 28% of consumers think c-stores do well at offering healthy options; however, 52% would like to see more healthy food items there, and 47% would like to see a wider variety of healthy beverages.

"Today, major convenience chains are actively developing healthier, higher-quality food offerings in order to benefit from trade-down [image-nocss] restaurant spending and to compete more effectively with limited-service restaurants," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic.

Other findings of the Convenience Store Foodservice Consumer Trend Report include: Nearly two-thirds of consumers (63%) say they visit a c-store at least once a week, but only about half (53%) purchase food or a beverage. C-stores' strongest competitors for food purchases are fast-food restaurants. Nearly half of consumers (49%) said fast-food restaurants were their alternative for breakfast, 47% for lunch, and 32% for dinner. Consumers found made-to-order offerings highly appealing, especially sandwiches (57%), salads (50%), beverages (48%) and hot foods (46%).

The Convenience Store Foodservice Consumer Trend Report was developed by Technomic to help c-store operators and suppliers recognize trends, gain consumer insights and identify opportunities for growth in foodservice. It provides analysis of consumer purchase behavior, attitudes and preferences of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers surveyed in July 2010. Menu and concept trends at leading chains are analyzed using Technomic's exclusive MenuMonitor database. Appendices include consumer demographics and concept and menu profiles of 15 innovative and emerging chains.

Chicago-based Technomic offers proprietary studies, ongoing research and consulting support for clients on all aspects of the food industry.