Making LTOs Pay Off at Breakfast

Innovation is key to bringing excitement to a routine meal
RaceTrac Breakfast sandwiches
Photograph courtesy of RaceTrac

CHICAGO — Breakfast is a routine for many Americans. But routine or not, it’s important for retailers in the foodservice game to keep excitement high through innovation and limited time offers (LTOs), even as they offer familiarity.

“Guests love the ability to change up their dining options when they know their old standby food item will still be there for them,” said Paul Servais, retail foodservice director of Kwik Trip, LaCrosse, Wis.

In 2020, Kwik Trip introduced the Waffle Breakfast Sandwich as an LTO, and it was so popular, it added the item to the regular menu.

Similarly, Landhope Farms, a three-unit c-store retailer based in Kennett Square, Pa., that offers traditional breakfast items, finds its specialty Giddy-Up breakfast sandwich is one of the most popular. It comes in many different varieties, from bread type—bagel, muffin, biscuit or potato roll—to preferred protein—sausage, bacon or chicken. And to further “set us apart from the competition,” says Director of Operations Dennis McCartney, is the option of scrapple as a protein choice. “It’s a local Dutch favorite and quickly became very popular as word spread we have it,” he says.

Another recent surprise at breakfast is the recent acceptance of fresh fruit, which was introduced in the summer. “We started cutting fruit and preparing it in tamper-proof containers in-store and offering it with both low-fat and Greek yogurt selections for grab and go,” says McCartney, “and our customers seem to like it.”

It’s that sort of innovation that “keeps c-stores relevant,” he says. “Our objective is to be relevant during every daypart and constantly looking at trends, fads and frankly, demands is absolutely essential.” Coming soon, the small chain will start offering breakfast LTOs in 2021, to keep mornings exciting “and keep the customers coming back to see what’s new,” McCartney adds.

Other c-store retailers are increasingly investing in LTOs:

  • Rutter’s in York, Pa. offers a wide variety of breakfast foods from breakfast pizza to breakfast bowls and sandwiches. But “LTO options are a key part in our coffee program, and we’re working to extend into our foodservice program,” says Chad White, foodservice category manager. “Customers are always looking for unique and new items to try out.” LTOs, he says, “keep the program fresh. We also use the LTO programs to test new items.”
  • Atlanta-based RaceTrac’s core breakfast business includes hot items such as breakfast tacos and croissant sandwiches (pictured above), as well as yogurt parfaits and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.The chain also offers LTOs “to engage our guests with new flavor twists on their familiar favorites,” says Jenn Townsend, executive director of food programs and offers. While breakfast “is a very routine-driven occasion, … we all enjoy trying something new every once in a while.”

LTOs, says Aimee Harvey, senior managing editor with CSP sister market-research company Technomic, “will continue to create interest in the breakfast menu, but because menus are generally being downsized, c-store retailers will be very strategic about how to develop and promote LTOs. The ongoing focus will be on items that are easy to execute and fewer LTOs.”

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