Meeting Consumers’ Foodservice Expectations

C-store consumers have higher expectations for food quality, variety and overall experience than ever before

Burritos
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Brought to you by Ruiz Foods.

Consumers have an expectation that convenience stores deliver on speedy in-and-out visits. But in a competitive market in which many outlets are elevating their foodservice programs, c-stores can’t rely on convenience alone.

C-store retailers, rather, must labor to distinguish their foodservice program and add value to accommodate a wide range of consumer wants and needs. Some consumers look for value in the traditional sense, meaning inexpensive yet quality. Others look at value as getting their money’s worth for more premium items and are willing to pay more. Regardless of their definition, 79% of consumers say that value is important or extremely important when deciding where to dine, according to Technomic’s 2017 Value & Pricing report.

As a result, many retailers have recognized that people have different purchasing motivations and will create opportunities to meet individual needs. And it’s paying off—41% of consumers say they are satisfied with the value offered by c-store RMS (retail meal solutions), according to that same report.

Bigger and bolder menus

Many consumers visit c-stores for breakfast, lunch and dinner to order hand-held items that are easy to eat while on the go and are viewed as a value. As for what makes something a good value, 86% of consumers say that taste and flavor is most important when creating a good value, while 81% say that quality is the most important attribute, according to Technomic’s Value & Pricing report.

One way c-store operators have responded to this is by adding on-trend ethnic offerings to their menus.  Compared to 2016, according to MenuMonitor, the number of Mexican items grew by 15%—especially burritos, which increased by 22%. Ruiz Foods recently launched a line of hand-wrapped burritos under the brand Three Bold Brothers, which delivers value to consumers looking for more high-quality ingredients and a more premium eating experience. The Grilled Chicken burrito includes white meat grilled chicken breast, seasoned cilantro-lime rice, whole black beans and Monterey Jack cheese, wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. The Grilled Steak burrito includes grilled prime rib beef, seasoned cilantro-lime rice and whole black beans, wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. These premium items are a great way to sell more food: 52% of consumers say that it’s easier to justify spending money if it’s a good value, and 46% say they enjoy the experience more if they are getting a good value, according to the Value & Pricing report.

On the other end of the value spectrum, Ruiz Foods also introduced an all new Chicken, Bacon & Cheddar Tornado (selected as a finalist in the Foodservice – Snacks category in CSP’s 2018 Retailer Choice Best New Product Contest) for consumers who don’t want to pay too much, but still want quality and crave flavorful items. This all new item to the Tornados portfolio includes chicken, applewood smoked bacon and cheddar cheese wrapped in a crispy seasoned tortilla.  It joins Ruiz Foods’ lineup of 13Tornados, which can be placed on the roller grill, deep-fried or oven baked. For the two in five consumers (and 63% of younger consumers) who order from dollar and value menus at least once a week, according to Technomic’s report, these lower-cost options are a great way to round out value menus at c-stores.