YORK, Pa. -- Rutter’s Farm Stores has launched a new proprietary foodservice product that has been two years in the making. The convenience-store chain has unveiled its new hot-hold pouch, which was designed to help Rutter’s expand its snacking, breakfast and side-item programs while keeping food quality intact.
Ryan Krebs, Rutter’s foodservice director, spent years conceptualizing a takeout carrier that wouldn’t result in “greasy, sweaty, rubbery chicken wings.” After “seeing everything that doesn’t work,” Krebs and the Rutter’s team worked with a manufacturer to design a pouch that keeps fried foods crispy and maintains food temperature and texture.
The new bag has led to Rutter’s adding 13 items to its hot-hold program; overall, there will now be 83 hot items available for grab-and-go occasions. This rollout is all part of the 62-unit chain's initiative on “attacking snacking.”
“With the push for snacking items and the huge success of our kiosk side items, I've worked with a company that offers state-of-the-art packaging for the hot hold,” said Krebs. “This bag is breathable, microwaveable, has a handle, is Rutter's-branded, holds heat extremely well and can put highly craveable items at the on-the-go customer's fingertips.”
The pouch features several vent holes for releasing steam, which Rutter’s hopes will help maintain the texture of crispy foods such as its french fries, mozzarella sticks and jalapeno bites.
“We'll be offering over a dozen options, including chicken wings and tenders, short ribs, fries, mozzarella sticks, hash browns ... the list goes on. In addition, we'll provide a variety of grab-and-go dipping cups to choose from at no additional cost,” Krebs said. “Not only will this result in tremendous increased sales, it will provide the snacking options our customers seek without the kiosk wait. The design of this product also holds the integrity and quality of products too, something that many packaging options do not provide for hot-hold service.”
Improvements to food quality for hot snacks is particularly crucial for c-store operators to address, considering snacking is the top day-part for hot food purchases at convenience stores. According to Technomic’s recent C-Store MarketBrief on hot-food purchasing trends, three-quarters of c-store consumers (76%) say they purchase hot food snacks at least once a month. Another 62% of c-store consumers say more convenience stores should offer a greater variety of hand-held foods that are ready-made and kept hot for grab and go.