Cooking with Flash

As foodservice garners a greater focus in c-stores, new equipment upgrades are making the category hotter. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor When Parker’s recently renovated Parker’s Market Urban Gourmet, its flagship store in downtown Savannah, Ga., one of the primary objectives was to create the space to showcase its expanding foodservice offerings. “We listened

E-Tobacco: What’s Next?

C-stores remain cautious with regards to what direction the e-cigarette and vaping industry is headed this year. By Anne Baye Ericksen Between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deeming regulations finally released last year and a bevy of new state taxes and regulations restricting who can sell or purchase tobacco and other-tobacco products, 2016

Smoke and Mirrors?

Can ongoing price increases on cigarettes continue to compensate for dropping unit sales? By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor In early November 2016, Philip Morris USA, owned by Altria Group Inc., Reynolds American Inc., and several other tobacco companies added eight cents to the per-pack wholesale price of their top cigarette brands. ITG Brands upped

Do Meat Bars Match Up?

Meat bars forge a unique position in the meat snacks category. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Every once in a while, a new type of product enters the marketplace that doesn’t neatly fit into an existing category. Meat bars is one of the latest examples of this phenomenon. Although they contain many of the

Ramping Up Regulation

Even as cities and states invoke new legislation, cigarette sales remain steady. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor On Election Day this year, voters in North Dakota will decide on who will be the next president and whether to approve a proposed tax hike on cigarettes. Since 1993, the state tax has held at a

E-Cigs See Market Lift

As vaping and e-cigarette manufacturers adjust to FDA regulations, c-stores experience a reactionary marketplace. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor When the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released its final deeming regulations officially classifying electronic nicotine delivery systems as tobacco products, it granted manufacturers and retailers a 90-day grace period before the new restrictions

Savory & Super Trendy, Meat Snacks Soar

Meat snacks maintain their firm grasp as a top-selling segment. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor “This is not your grandfather’s jerky,” said Norman Deschamps, an independent market analyst working with Packaged Facts, a market research publisher. Indeed, between people’s desire for protein, healthier snacks and premium products, the meat snacks category is undergoing a

Tapping a Trend

Healthier sales of bottled water bode well for c-stores as packaged beverages continue to drive profits. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Flint, Mich., has been the epicenter of contaminated tap water. For more than 24 months, residents have battled authorities over how to clean up the lead-tainted water running through the city’s aging pipes.

Water, Tea and Gen Z

Younger consumers are redefining top sellers among packaged beverages. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Earlier this year, John Archer noticed the display for LaCroix sparkling water in his local grocery store kept growing in size and prominence. He wondered what would happen if he elevated the brand’s real estate in his convenience store As

Cigars Still Burn Brightly

Despite changes in tobacco regulations, convenience stores continue to cash in on this popular consumer product.     By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor For convenience stores, tobacco products remain the top sales driver despite significant alterations and protective measures tacked on to national, state and local regulations. While cigarettes have almost always been the target of

Discovering New Energy

As summer gets underway, energy drink producers, as well as convenience stores, hope consumers will embrace new energy selections. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor The Beverage Buzz Memorial Day Retailer Survey by Wells Fargo Securities reported recently that beverage sales notched upward 5.5%, which is a slight improvement over the 4.9% recorded during last

Vape Rules Released — Now What?

After much anticipation, the FDA has released deeming regulations that will change how the vapor industry does business from now on. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its draft of proposed regulations of various tobacco products that previously were not covered by the Family Smoking

Stirring Up E-Cig Sales

Could the e-cigarette segment rebound now that federal regulations are finalized? By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor On May 5, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its deeming regulations, concluding that e-cigarettes fall within the same purview as other regulated tobacco products. Also of note, recent research results out of the United Kingdom

ACA Reporting Requirements

With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in effect, most convenience stores are ready to follow suit. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor After years of political posturing, court battles and postponements, the Shared Responsibility Employer Mandate aspect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is now in full effect. For individuals,

Defying Expectations

In a year in which consumers generated strong other-than-tobacco numbers, smokeless tobacco outperformed industry forecasts in 2015. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor While the number of U.S. smokers still lags that of years past and legislators continue to debate  how to legislate the vapor and e-cigarette markets, other tobacco products (OTPs) such as chewing

How to Survive the Flavored Tobacco Controversy

Despite banking on cigar sales, more and more convenience stores face the fallout of local ordinances restricting consumer use. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Last fall, Cleveland officials introduced proposed regulations to ban all flavored tobacco products throughout the city except at tobacco shops. Officials also wanted to raise the minimum purchasing age to

How to Entice with E-Cigarettes in 2016

Despite lagging industry-wide sales in 2015, some e-cigarette brands are primed to post impressive numbers this year. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Year-end figures confirmed what many convenience store operators have guessed for some time: the allure of non-combustible tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaporizers, has been burning lower than a few years ago.

How To Excel in the Vapor Market

From corporate acquisitions and collaborations to local and state regulatory enforcement, it’s been an eventful year for e-tobacco products. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Nearing the end of 2013, sales of e-cigarettes and vapors/tanks/mods (VTMs) were riding high for convenience stores and other tobacco retailers. As reported by Wells Fargo, unit growth of e-cigarettes for

Kwik Trip Leads By Example

Kwik Trip’s Steve Loehr has embraced the ideals of health and freshness, helping usher in a new era for the c-store industry. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor In the 25 years since Steve Loehr joined Kwik Trip Inc., the La Crosse, Wis.-based convenience retailer has experienced extraordinary growth, reaching numerous corporate milestones. Today, Loehr,

How to Add Space for E-Cigarettes

After years of stellar growth, the vapor products category responds to changing marketplace dynamics. With one eye on the market, convenience retailers constantly weigh how much shelf space to allot e-cigarettes. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor When industry analysts announce in July that a product category is on track for a growth rate of

How to Brew Coffee Profits

Variety and customization help coffee sales to continue to grow. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Whether it’s the desire for a jolt of caffeine in the morning or craving a specialty hot beverage as an afternoon pick-me-up, coffee remains a top beverage choice for consumers. The 2014 National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) survey, produced by

How To Boost Beverage Sales

As more consumers shun carbonated soda, teas and juices are at the ready to quench c-stores’ thirst for category profits. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Of the top 10 merchandise categories in 2014 that demonstrated monthly strength in sales and margin percentage per the average store, tobacco was tops, followed by packaged beverages. According to

Seasonal Swings Sway Sales

Summer temps aren’t the only weather occurrences affecting car wash sales this year. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor What a difference a few thousand miles makes. While Californians face strict water restrictions, residents throughout the South and Midwest are cleaning up after record-breaking spring and summer flooding. Ironically, these divergent weather conditions are stirring

High Protein, High Profit

Can meat snacks continue to serve up healthy sales for c-stores? By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor “High in protein.” “Natural ingredients.” “Low sugar.” Analysts insist these are some of the top buzz descriptors that today’s consumers look for when contemplating snacking options. Even popular workout programs like P90X push high-protein meal plans and trending

Salty Snacks Still Tops

Even as better-for-you products gain popularity, chips and salty snacks remain top-sellers. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Between media reports and industry data, it’s clear that today’s consumers want better-for-you (BFY) choices when it comes to snacking. More and more, Americans are looking to replace sugar and fat with protein and all-natural ingredients. On