Category Management Handbook

Foodservice: Menu Trends 2016

C-store Menu Trends

Technomic's Menu Monitor c-store database features menus from 40 retailers in the United States. What follows is a snapshot of their foodservice offerings in 2015. 

As shown in the chart below, sandwiches were the most popular entree, featured on more than half of hte mneus in Technomic's database in the last quarter of 2015 and offered by nearly 95 percenet of operators. The average price of a sandwich was $3.49.

Based on the previous year, the number of sandwiches available on menus rose 14.6%, but the number of retailers offering them remained flat. Mexican food's menu incidence was up by 15 percent. Burritos provided much of that momentum, with a nearly 22 percent increase.

The number of pizza items rose 20.9 percent, and the number of operators offering them grew more than 11 percent. 

Entrées at C-Stores

Product categoryMenu incidenceEntree distributionOperators offeringOperator penetrationAverage price
Sandwich78351.6%3794.9%$3.49
Mexican15310.1%3076.9%$2.54
Pizza1338.8%2051.3%$8.21
Hot dogs1157.6%3692.3%$1.87
Burgers805.3%2564.1%$3.07
Chicken dish674.4%1743.6%$3.91
Salad main dish533.5%1641.0%$5.12
Combo plates422.8%2153.8%$3.19
Pork dish251.6%1641.0%$2.03
Breakfast starch221.5%1538.5%$1.84
Pasta/noodles140.9%512.8%$3.62
Other29N/AN/AN/AN/A
Total1,516N/A39N/AN/A

Source: Technomic Inc., MenuMonitor Q4 2015 | * Forecast | ** Respondents could select more than one option


Snacks at C-Stores

Soft pretzels, included under the "breads" segment of snacks, grew in both number of items available on c-store menus and the number of retailers offering them. The most common snack item was soup, featured on more than one-fourth of menus in the Technomic database. 

Product categoryMenu incidenceSnack distributionOperators offeringOperators penetrationAverage price
Soup4326.1%824.2%$3.13
Breaded protein2615.8%1854.5%$1.94
Mexican1911.5%1648.5%$1.64
Breaded vegetables148.5%1030.3%$2.60
Breads137.9%1133.3%$2.10
Breaded other127.3%1133.3%$2.41
Salad95.5%824.2%$3.81
Wings84.8%618.2%$5.56
Fries74.2%412.1%$3.85
Other14N/AN/AN/AN/A
Total165N/A33N/A$2.70

Source: Technomic Inc., MenuMonitor Q4 2015


Foodservice Sales By Channel

Technomic forecasts a 3.3 percent increase in c-store foodservice sales in 2016, a slightly lower growth rate than in 2015.

ChannelRetail sales 2015 ($ Billions)Nominal growth 2015Nominal growth 2016*
Quick-service restaurants$212.04.1%3.8%
Fast casual$43.211.3%10.3%
Supermarket foodservice$28.28.6%9.3%
C-store$19.53.9%3.3%
All other retailers$12.34.4%3.8%

Source: Technomic Inc., MenuMonitor Q4 2015 | * Forecast


Foodservice Purchases by Source**

Calendar year 2015

In a survey of customers of two dozen c-store chains, Technomic found that about two-thirds of their foodservice purchases came from three areas: the bakery case, a made-to-order program and the roller grill.

Source: Technomic Inc., MenuMonitor Q4 2015 | ** Respondents could select more than one option

Continued: Consumer Attitudes on Prepared Foods

Consumer Prepared-Food Attitudes

Calendar Year 2015

Retailer meal solutions is Technomic's term for ready-to-eat or heat prepared foods at retail stores. These may include refrigerated items, but not frozen. Examples include items such as sandwiches, pizza, soups and rotisserie chicken, and baked goods such as muffins.

According to its 2015 Consumer Trend Report, Technomic found that the number of consumers purchasing an RMS from c-stores rose 10 points in the past five years to hit 62 percent. 

Have you ever purchased an RMS from: 

Channel201020122015
Traditional supermarkets88%92%90%
Mass merchandisers77%77%72%
Warehouse clubs58%58%57%
C-stores52%57%62%
Specialty food stores36%37%43%
Upscale/fresh-format supermarkets29%28%33%
Drug storesN/AN/A19%

The percentage of consumers who purchased an RMS from c-stores more than once a week rose from 32% in a 2012 survey to an average of 37% in a 2015 survey. The channel was especially popular with millennials.


How often do you purchase a retailer meal solution from:

Channel18-34 years old35+ years old
C-stores48%31%
Mass merchandisers47%29%
Traditional supermarkets46%33%
Drug stores45%42%
Specialty food/upscale supermarkets37%23%
Warehouse clubs30%17%

C-stores' emphasis on coffee and the availabilit of portable offerings make the channel the most popular spot for breakfast RMS purchases. 


Where do you purchase an RMS for breakfast? 

Channel18-34 years old35+ years old
C-stores55%56%
Mass merchandisers24%11%
Traditional supermarkets22%12%
Drug stores21%12%
Specialty food/upscale supermarkets20%13%
Warehouse clubs16%9%

C-stores were the least popular choice for dinner RMS purchases among the channels, likely, because consumers have more time in the evening to shop, making convenience a less critical factor in picking a retail location. 


Where do you purchase an RMS for lunch and dinner? 

ChannelLunchDinner
Mass merchandisers55%69%
Traditional supermarkets54%72%
Specialty food/upscale supermarkets53%68%
C-stores50%19%
Warehouse clubs47%69%
Drug stores39%26%

C-stores rank as the second most popular location for consumers to purchase an RMS as a snack. 


Where do you purchase an RMS for snacks? 

Channel18-34 years old35+ years old
Drug stores61%58%
C-stores55%52%
Mass merchandisers52%35%
Traditional supermarkets39%26%
Warehouse clubs37%24%
Specialty food/upscale supermarkets29%24%

Source: Technomic Inc.


Cross-Category Opportunity

According to an analysis of retail point-of-sale data by Management Science Associates, the following products were most often included in a foodservice market basket: 

  1. Perishable grocery/salads
  2. Potato chips
  3. Ready-to-eat meals
  4. Tortilla/corn chips
  5. Flavored milk
  6. Juice/juice drinks
  7. RTD iced tea
  8. Other salty snacks
  9. Enhanced water
  10. Puffed cheese

$19.5 billion – C-store foodservice sales in 2015, according to Technomic


Foodservice: What to Watch

Frozen/Refrigerated

Shelf Stable

CMOY: Andre Benoit

View the full 2016 Category Management Handbook

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