Two Must-Haves to Drive Foodservice Sales

Retailers feed off of consumer preference for freshly made food options

Foodservice sales in convenience stores grew by 9.7% from 2013 to 2014, according to 2014 NACS SOI data, indicating that c-stores are rising to the foodservice occasion and effectively meeting consumer needs.

Fresh food in convenience stores

Consumer perception of convenience-store food offerings are shifting significantly, with nearly two-thirds of c-stores saying they offer fresh-prepared food, according to CSP’s 2015 FARE State of Foodservice Study. This massive shift provides an excellent opportunity for retailers to assess their current foodservice offerings and capabilities in relation to consumer desires.

According to a 2015 study by Technomic, more than half of respondents indicated that higher-quality options would encourage them to buy fresh-prepared food more often from convenience stores, and 50% of respondents said the same about healthier options. Consumers are looking for healthy and high-quality offerings available to them wherever they are—including convenience stores.

But how do convenience stores rise to the occasion when there are such broad differences in consumer demographics, preferences and attitudes? There is no “one-size-fits-all” consumer, according to the 2015 NACS State of the Industry Summit, so a one-size-fits-all foodservice program is not going to offer “convenient, price-sensitive healthy offerings.” A foodservice program that fits each consumer individually needs options that fit two criteria: They must be freshly made, and they must be highly customizable.

Consumers are exercising their desire for healthy and high-quality options by customizing their food orders, which has become easier as retailers implement touch-screen kiosks, according to data from NACS. These types of kiosks make fresh-prepared offerings not an option, but a necessity. The ability to customize is key when taken into consideration that 98% of menus are offering items such as sandwiches, wraps, panini and subs, with numerous ingredients allowing more opportunity for customization and better-for-you choices.

With all of the buzz around technology and customization for today’s health-conscious consumer, it comes as no surprise that 43% of operators plan on investing in new cooking equipment in the year to come. Companies such as Ovention are building innovative products that can “cook a pizza in less than 3 minutes,” says Brian Donoghue, director of foodservice for Weigel’s Stores Inc.

For his fresh-prepared foodservice offerings, Donoghue chose the Matchbox 1718 oven by Ovention—a hoodless and ventless oven that uses Precision Impingement Technology to ensure perfectly cooked food every time. Donoghue loves the quality of product produced by his Ovention oven. “It allows us to compete with a pizzeria, but not have our customers take up a parking spot for 15 minutes,” he said.

Weigel’s locations can prepare pizzas, panini, chicken breasts, desserts and more thanks to this innovative equipment. The elevated culinary capabilities, coupled with its small footprint, allow for superb efficiency and unlimited menu options—all without the use of microwaves.

Innovations such as the revolutionary line of ovens from Ovention offer market-relevant opportunities for an ideal c-store foodservice world, where both consumer and operator needs are met with excellence and efficiency. “Customers can order anything off the menu, shop the store, get a drink, and by the time they reach the counter to pay, their food is ready to go,” said Donoghue.

This post is sponsored by Ovention