Foodservice

To Lure Back Patrons, Go Big or Go Home

C-stores can boost customer numbers with bold flavors, Technomic report says
johnsonville sausages
Photograph courtesy of Johnsonville

CHICAGO Pandemic concerns have created potholes for the roller grill business and squeezed the flow of dispensed beverage sales. But while these two foodservice essentials have been shuttered at many convenience stores, patrons are itching for their return.

Seventy-five percent of consumers said they are highly eager to patronize hot dispensed beverages, 74% said cold dispensed drinks and 71% said the roller grill, according to Technomic’s Industry Insightsreport for the week ending Jan. 18.

Overall, 48% of consumers said that in 2020’s fourth quarter, they were still buying c-store foodservice at the previous month’s rate, but overall, there has been a continued slowdown in c-store visits, the report said.

To get on the road to recovery, apart from concentrated sanitation habits, convenience stores should consider flavors that catch customers’ eyesand ears.

Think big, as they say, and think bold. C-store retailers and suppliers are marking the path to a road more traveled by ramping up robust flavors to entice customers, spur word-of-mouth hype and increase purchases. Hot, spicy and sour flavors are popular, and they are being widely promoted.

Three examples:

  • Johnsonville, Sheboygan Falls, Wis., has rolled out three new sausages to c-stores: Ultimate Queso (an MSG- and gluten-free Tex-Mex entry), Southern Style BBQ (hardwood smoked with a tomato-based BBQ flavor and cayenne and black pepper seasonings) and Smoked Honey BBQ (balanced with a tangy barbeque sauce and also free of gluten and MSG). Over the past four years, Tex-Mex flavor has grown in popularity by 20% and sweet BBQ flavor by 30%.
  • Tres Picosos, Denver, which makes authentic Mexican burritos for c-stores and foodservice operations, has unveiled three new flavors in its grab-and-go lineup: Picadillo Beef includes diced potatoes, green chiles and cheddar; Pork Carnitas, which features cilantro lime rice, seasoned pinto beans verde, tomatillo salsa and Monterey Jack cheese; and Western Breakfast, with scrambled eggs, pork sausage, hash browns, green chiles and cheddar.
  • For the Halloween season, c-store retailer Sheetz, Altoona, Pa., offered cold, colorful slushes including Sour Applez, a blue sour lemonade mixed with caramel and apple.

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