Fueling Foodservice

7-Eleven aims to almost double fresh-food sales over next two years
ST. CHARLES, Ill. -- What's driving 7-Eleven's growing interest in fresh foods? Some very basic statistics, most notably the fact the average customer buying fresh food spends almost $8 per sale, while the average merchandise sale totals only $5.

"Stores that have a larger fresh-food offer have higher earnings, they have higher merchandise rings, they have higher beverage sales, and they have higher gross profits," said CEO Joe DePinto during last week's 7-Eleven Franchise Owners Association of Chicagoland Trade Show.

To that end, Dallas-based 7-Eleven will be growing [image-nocss] its fresh foodservice offer in coming months with the goal of driving sales. Currently, the span of fresh-food revenue in 7-Eleven stores extends from $170 per day on the low end to $730 per day on the high end, with an average $430 per day. "We want to grow that average to $711 per day by the end of 2011," DePinto said.

That's a tall order in the Chicago market, where the average 7-Eleven store sells $267 per day in fresh food. Reaching that new goal will be helped along with the introduction of several new productsincluding hot foodsand targeted promotions.

Among products to be added to the chain's Fresh To Go product line in the coming months:
12-inch turkey sub. Roast beef sandwich. Chicken ranch snack wrap. Orange muffins. Dulce de leche caramel stick. Blueberry fritters. Lemon muffins. The chain, which is testing five hot-food items, will expand that program, including products such as Oscar Mayer mesquite frankfurter and smoked pork sausage, among others.

"[Around the world], people are selling fresh foods in their stores, the difference is [in other countries], they're making it work with hot foods," said DePinto. "The timing is perfect [for 7-Eleven]. It's selling in QSRs while fine dining and full-service restaurants are dropping."

Also this summer, the chain will promote its proprietary products as a bundle to its fresh foods. The offer suggests "add 7-Select chips and a 32-oz. Big Gulp for $1 with the purchase of any fresh sandwich."

The bundled offer should further develop company statistics that show:
80% of fresh-food customers also purchase a beverage. 53% of bakery customers also purchase a hot beverage. 20% of fresh-food customers also purchase chips. Also pushing the idea of value, the chain will highlight that 50% of its fresh-food sandwiches retail for less than $3.

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