Despite Popularity, Carbonated Soft Drinks Facing Challenges

Not very long ago, carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) were the rage of a young Baby Boomer generation. Coke and Pepsi ruled the cold door, and life was good for convenience store retailers. But that day has passed, as the category has been flat—or even in decline—for several years, forcing retailers to reset coolers to capitalize


Bottled Water, Sports Drinks Remain Strong

Make no mistake—the move away from carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) to what consumers perceive as healthier beverage options is for real. This includes a shift from diet CSDs as well as full-caloried offerings. And one of the major beneficiaries of this move has been the bottled water category, including flavored and enhanced offerings. According to

Craft, Imports Propel Beer

Beer has long been a staple of convenience stores—a destination stop for adult consumers looking to pick up a 6- or 12-pack on the go. But over the years, consumer trends have changed exactly what they’re picking up. The first change came in the 1970s and early ‘80s, when the Baby Boomer generation matured, and

The 2014 Category Management Outlook

With the industry facing heightened competition and shrinking margins, CSD offers retail insights, expert analysis and emerging trends from more than 30 key in-store categories. A CSD Staff Report While other retail channels have endured sluggish sales and numerous other customer challenges over the past three years, the convenience store and petroleum industry hasn’t missed

C-Stores Bullish on Chicken

When Larry Miller started in the c-store business in the 1960s, he cut up chicken for the store’s meat market section. But most stores were skittish when it came to prepared products. Handling raw chicken and properly cooking presented minefields. No longer. “The supply chain is safer and the equipment makes it easier to prepare,”

Roller Grill Trends Toward Innovation, Made to Order

In 2014, convenience stores are finding they can up their foodservice profile with specialty sausages, a range of breakfast options and different bun types, such as biscuits. “Roller grill offerings have really evolved and expanded in recent years. While hot dogs remain a staple, c-store operators are offering a broader range of items that meet

Sandwiches Made Their Way

In 2014, sandwiches continue to be in high demand among convenience store consumers. Whole grain breads—as well as flatbreads, wraps and all kinds of artisan breads—and specialty cheeses and meats are among options grabbing customer attention. Rutter’s Farm Stores, with 59 locations in York, Pa., has seen success with a number of sandwich items. “Grilled

Building the Bakery Business

Over the past 12 months, sales of packaged sweet baked snacks and desserts came close to the $13 billion mark, according to a report released by market research publisher Packaged Facts. The report, entitled “Packaged Sweet Baked Snacks and Desserts: U.S. Market Trends,” projects that sales will exceed $14 billion in 2017. That growth in

Pizza Fans Split Over Indulgent And Healthier Pies

Still one of the most popular foodservice destinations, pizza is trending in two directions: indulgent and better for you, noted Donna Hood, Crecca, senior director of Technomic. “On the indulgent side, we see items such as the recently-introduced bacon cheeseburger pizza or Buffalo-style pizza. But on the better-for-you side, we’re also seeing pizza chains rolling

E-Cigarettes Expanding At Retail

While FDA regulations remain to be seen, e-cigarette companies are self regulating, and technology continues to evolve. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. In a conference call yesterday with Bonnie Herzog, managing director of beverage and tobacco analyst at Wells Fargo securities, and Andries  Verleur, co-founder at VMR Products, parent company of V2 Cigs, discussed trends

Sweets And Snacks Expo Showcases 2013 Trends

Comfort, spice and little bites dominate candy and snack category trends. The 2013 Sweets and Snacks Expo, presented by the National Confectioners Association (NCA) took place in Chicago at McCormick Place May 21-23. The show brought together more than 15,000 manufacturers, buyers and industry leaders from 70 countries. More than 600 companies debuted treats, and

NACS SOI Summit Reveals Industry Performance, Opportunities

A strong 2012 brought $700.3 billion in sales, but opportunities exist to grow foodservice, and drive customer spending on trips in 2013. The NACS State of the Industry (SOI) Summit took place in Chicago on April 10-11, giving retailers an overview of the economy, industry statistics, and the challenges that are just ahead. Glenn Plumby,

Tracking the Trends in 2013

Despite a weakened economy, the convenience store industry posted healthy sales gains in key in-store categories, such as foodservice, snacks, beverages and tobacco products, raising optimism for an even stronger 2013. For all the concerns about reduced consumer spending over the past 15 months, convenience stores experienced another strong year in 2012. Core categories, such

Meeting the Needs of Today’s C-Store Customers

CSD‘s 2012 Category Management Outlook offers trends and analysis from more than 25 key in-store categories. By John Lofstock and Erin Rigik. Tough economic times and stiff competition across the supply chain are making it critical for convenience store operators to have a solid understanding of their customers, particularly their high-frequency, high-value shoppers. Armed with

Raising the Bar on Breakfast Sales

The first sports and energy bars in the U.S. were marketed primarily to serious athletes, through alternative channels such as health food stores.                      These bars did not have wide appeal or distribution as recently as 1990, but over the past two decades these products have since gained mass appeal and distribution after greatly improving flavor

Healthy Trends Extending to the Cold Vault

New products and core beverages will always drive cold vault sales. So when is the right time—and how often does that right time come—for category managers to reset them? “We do cold vault resets twice a year, which means we’re making fairly minor adjustments all the time,” said Richard Ginther, category manager for Kum &

Car Wash Upgrades on Deck for 2012

Convenience store and petroleum retailers with car washes have faced a challenging 3-4 years in the car wash industry, and as a result have mostly refrained from new development of car wash sites. “We know from our equipment sales reports that there have been low levels of investment, particularly at petroleum c-store car wash sites,”

Product Innovation & Marketing Fuel Dispensed Beverages

The cold frozen dispensed category is undergoing some major changes these days with many c-stores adding milkshakes and even energy slushees to their offerings. The additions continue to make the cold and frozen dispensed category one of the hottest in the convenience store industry. Digging down into the category even more, the fourth annual CSD/Balvor

Sweet Outlook for Candy and Confections

Despite the continued economic doldrums, U.S. confectionery sales have grown at a pace of 4.2% annually and generate $29 billion in total sales, according to SymphonyIRI, a Chicago-based research firm. Jenn Elleck, of the National Confectioners Association (NCA), said the biggest misconception about selling candy is that candy sells itself. “Retailers don’t think they need

Beer Bounces Back

It’s always nice when a general statistical look at an industry can be confirmed locally, and that is the case with convenience store beer sales as 2011 closes. The Beer Institute confirms that the convenience channel is one of the most important for beer. The category accounts for 30% of total U.S. industry volume. A

Solid Growth Projections for Bottled Water and Sports Drinks

Water continues to briskly flow into and out of convenience stores. The key for retailers is to cut through the clutter and put together the most profitable set possible. Bottled water volume overall grew a little over 4% in 2011, according to preliminary tracking figures from the Beverage Marking Corp. (BMC). The single-serve retail PET

High Expectations for Cigarettes

While there are those who would like to see cigarettes go up in smoke, c-store operators can rest assured that this critical category will continue to be ablaze with activity. “Among the trends I see for 2012 is that there is going to be continued or heightened competition among the second tier brands,” said Bonnie

Staying Safe in the Convenience Store

Handling cash is the bread and butter of convenience store operations, and the latest systems developed to make that process faster and safer do just that. But not all quarters of the industry have been quick to embrace them by any means. For many operators, changes still lie in the future, and time-honored standard practices

Emerging Opportunities for HBC

Retailers have come to accept that the health and beauty category (HBC) could never compete with tobacco or foodservice in terms of profits or volume, but it serves an important purpose for convenience store customers. For that reason alone, a diverse offering of cold medicines and personal hygiene products should be a staple on convenience

Strong Year for Meat Snacks

Meat snack manufacturers are targeting new customers with innovative flavors, new packaging and an attractive price point. Leading the charge to meet the changing needs of the consumer is Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, which markets dozens of popular meat snack varieties under the Jack Link’s and MATADOR brands. Overall, meat snack sales soared 10.3% to