1. Cold-brew coffee
There will be a proliferation of cold-brew and nitrogen-dispensed coffee programs. What’s the learning curve for employees? And will sales in this trending category make it worth it?
2. Clean labeling
We will see an increase in manufacturers attempting to address clean labeling. What does clean labeling mean for retailers? What is the threshold that consumers will accept and/or expect from manufacturers and operators in regard to clean labeling?
3. The EMV upgrade opportunity
With the liability shift to fuel retailers quickly approaching in 2017, pump manufacturers will be highlighting all of the ways gas stations can become EMV-compliant while upgrading the fueling experience and driving more customers into the store. Solutions that offer TV, couponing, marketing and ordering food at the pump will be in heavy rotation. Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s Applause TV and media system and Wayne’s Forecourt Media are a couple of the better-known offers in this space. Upgraded outside payment terminals from multiple vendors will also be on display.
4. Midlevel ethanol-ready fueling equipment
Forecasts suggest that higher-octane fuels will grow in share, as auto manufacturers introduce more fuel-efficient, turbocharged engines. E15 is also slowly rolling out, with several big chains announcing the addition of the fuel in the past year. At the show, expect fueling equipment manufacturers to highlight UL-compliant components from dispensers to hoses to gaskets that are compatible with 15% ethanol blends and higher.
5. Protein-enhanced drinks
Beverage makers are stealing meat snack’s thunder by adding and promoting protein in everything from milk and yogurt drinks to bottled water and energy shots. Look for dozens of examples on the trade-show floor.
6. Pushing the better-for-you envelope
PepsiCo is the mainstream mover here, with probiotics, nut milk and more coming under its Naked and Tropicana juice lines. Campbell’s is on board, too, with the Bolthouse Farms brand. Expect other major beverage makers to join the fray and many independent brands to sample their products at the NACS Show.
Snacks and candy
7. Never enough protein
Seems snacks can’t get enough protein, and we’re seeing manufacturers packing new ingredients into bars and bags to pump it up. No doubt we’ll see more protein variety and unusual snack ingredients like Brussels sprouts and crickets on display at the NACS show.
8. Eating up the innovators
Big, traditional snacks company such as Kellogg and General Mills have acquired innovation through the purchase of smaller companies that make “better for you” snacks. We expect that trend to be evident on the trade-show floor.
9. Will energy boost gum sales?
Gum has been losing steam for the past few years, especially with millennials who seem to favor mints over chewing gum. But the same demographic also drives sales of energy drinks and shots. Voila, we expect to be offered a few samples of energy gum at the NACS show.
10. Cloud movement
Opting for cloud solutions, retailers are turning over any number of operational functions to third-party providers via “the cloud.” Houston-based Shell announced a program to offer point-of-sale (POS) in the cloud, while Greenville, S.C.-based The Spinx Cos. has gone with a cloud-based human-resources provider.
11. Data distribution
With major tobacco manufacturers calling for transactional data from retailers, transferring data to third-party sources will be a new challenge for retailers, said Hubert Williams, vice president of technology and development for Maverik, North Salt Lake, Utah. Providers such as PDI, Temple, Texas, and The Pinnacle Corp., Arlington, Texas, recently debuted such features in their software.
12. Fanning e-cig growth
With NJOY’s bankruptcy filing in early fall, the future of electronic cigarettes seems to be in doubt. The major tobacco manufacturers, however, appear to be pouring new promotional dollars and executing pricing strategies to fan the flames.
13. Legal cannabis
Propositions in major states such as California this November could accelerate the legalization of marijuana for recreational use across the United States. But Chris Walsh, editorial director for Denver-based Marijuana Business Daily, says it may be a while before convenience stores will actually get to legally sell pot.