CSP Magazine

Foodservice/Packaged Food: Foodservice Trends 2015

C-Store Foodservice Trends

In January 2015, Product Evaluations conducted an online and telephone-based survey of 150 c-store operators—67 independents with one to 10 stores, and 83 chains with 11 or more units—on behalf of CSP. Each of the interviewees was a purchase decision-maker at the store level, and each offered foodservice items not packaged by a manufacturer.

Eighteen percent of the retailers surveyed have a “limited dedication” to foodservice, meaning they offer four  or fewer food items. Nearly half—or 49%—of the operators have a “moderate dedication” to foodservice, meaning they offer three to nine items, while 33% have a high dedication (10 to 15 items).

What follows are highlights from the 2015 survey, which revealed retailers’ optimism for strong foodservice  sales in the coming year, as well as the items upon which they are hinging hopes for growth.

Most Commonly Offered Food Items

Among the retailers in the CSP Annual Trend Report, nearly 80% of the sample offered a sandwich, sub or wrap, and the same percentage sold breakfast sandwiches. The most common offers varied by a retailer’s dedication to the category. Those who are highly dedicated most commonly sell sandwiches, and those with a limited offer typically sell dispensed beverages and roller-grill items.

Food itemSampleHigh dedicationModerate dedicationLimited dedication
Sandwiches, subs or wraps79%96%85%33%
Breakfast sandwiches79%100%88%15%
Hot dogs, sausages or encased items75%86%78%44%
Hamburger/cheeseburger63%96%62%4%
Handheld ethnic61%78%73%NA
Baked goods/pastries52%80%44%22%
Chicken (fried/broasted/grilled)44%82%34%NA
Appetizers/hot side items40%76%29%4%
Pizza40%78%27%4%
Deli salads39%86%21%4%
Fresh-cut fruit/vegetables35%58%29%115

Source: CSP-Product Evaluations Annual Trend Report


Room to Grow

C-store retailers enjoyed growth in the past year; most expect more sales growth in 2015.

What % change have your foodservice sales experienced in the past year?

Retailer typeSales change
Independent13.6%
Chain16.8%
High dedication18.7%
Moderate dedication17.1%
Limited dedication5.9%
Mean15.4%

Source: CSP-Product Evaluations Annual Trend Report


What percent change do you expect in foodservice sales in the next year?

Retailer typeSales change
Independent16.2%
Chain17.0%
High dedication22.4%
Moderate dedication16.4%
Limited dedication8.0%
Mean16.7%

Source: CSP-Product Evaluations Annual Trend Report


Top Growth Prospects

Among the entire survey sample, the greatest percentage of retailers expect pizza, chicken and deli salad sales to grow in the coming year.

Food item% of retailers expecting increase
Pizza73%
Chicken (fried/roasted/grilled)65%
Deli salads64%
Sandwiches, subs or wraps62%
Breakfast sandwiches, wraps or pockets61%
Baked goods/pastries58%
Appetizers/hot side items58%
Hot dogs, sausages or encased items57%
Hamburgers, cheeseburgers55%
Hand-held ethnic54%

Source: CSP-Product Evaluations Annual Trend Report


Top Focus Areas

Beyond particular food items, the vast majority of retailers will focus on increasing store traffic, according to the CSP Annual Trend Report.

Focus area% of retailers emphasizing
Increasing in-store traffic96%
Customer needs for quality items93%
Profitability (food/labor costs)91%
Offering new/more food options90%
Perceptions of c-store foodservice88%
Customer needs for healthy options87%
Food prep safety/feasibility86%
In-store atmosphere/decor86%
Marketing/merchandising86%
Staffing concerns85%

Source: CSP-Product Evaluations Annual Trend Report

CONTINUED: Menu Trends &Snacking

C-Store Menu Trends

Technomic’s MenuMonitor c-store database features menus from 40 U.S. retailers. Below is a snapshot of their foodservice offerings in 2014.

“Penetration” measures the “reach” of a product on a menu or of operators offering an item. Sandwiches accounted for 21.2% of all items on the menus at retailers in the MenuMonitor database; 42.4% of all c-store foodservice items in the database were sandwiches.

Food at C-Stores

Hot dogs were the most popular meal entree on the menu in second-quarter 2014, with 90% of the retailers in Technomic’s MenuMonitor sample offering the item.

Product categoryMenu incidenceTotal menu penetrationSnack menu distributionOperators offeringOperator penetration
Sandwich52821.2%42.4%3587.5%
Breakfast sandwich1475.9%11.8%2767.5%
Pizza1104.4%8.8%1845.0%
Hot dogs983.9%7.9%3690.0%
Burgers753.0%6.0%2460.0%
Chicken dish652.6%5.2%1640.0%
Burrito/chimichanga522.1%4.2%1537.5%
Salad (main dish)481.9%3.9%1332.5%
Soup421.7%3.4%820.0%
Taco/taquito401.6%3.2%1742.5%
Mexican401.6%3.2%1640.0%

Source: Technomic Inc., MenuMonitor, Q2 2014


Snacks at C-Stores

The most common snack items on the menus of c-store retailers in Technomic’s MenuMonitor sample in second-quarter 2014 were doughnuts, muffins and pastries.

Product categoryMenu incidenceTotal menu penetrationSnack menu distributionOperators offeringOperator penetration
Doughnuts481.9%25.8%2152.5%
Muffin301.2%16.1%2357.5%
Pastry261.0%14.0%1742.5%
Bagel/English muffin/toast150.6%8.1%922.5%
Hash browns120.5%6.5%1127.5%
Dessert bread120.5%6.5%615.0%
Chicken strips/nuggets110.4%5.9%922.5%
Cheese sticks/fried cheese110.4%5.9%1127.5%
Fruit110.4%5.9%922.5%
Chili100.4%5.4%820.0%

Source: Technomic Inc., MenuMonitor, Q2 2014


Foodservice Sales Growth by Channel

Technomic expects c-store proprietary foodservice sales to have grown 2.5% in 2014*, on pace with casual dining.

Channel2014 growth of foodservice sales
Fast casual9.0%
Supermarket foodservice6.0%
Quick-service restaurant3.0%
Casual dining2.5%
C-store foodservice**2.5%

Source: Technomic

* Projected

** Proprietary only


Customer in Focus

According to a March 2014 Mintel survey of more than 1,600 Internet users who visited a c-store in the past three months, a majority—or 58%—did so to buy food and/or drink items. For another 20%, visiting a restaurant or foodservice offer within the c-store was one of the primary reasons for their stop.

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