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


Poultry Booming in C-Stores Despite Supply Concerns

The Washington, DC-based National Chicken Council forecasts that while production of this convenience store menu mainstay will drop by 1.7%, prices will be going up. “This is only the fourth time in five decades that production has gone down,” said Bill Roenigk, senior vice president and chief economist for the National Chicken Council. We are

Forecasting Bakery Trends

Ready to hear some good economic news? Bakery is one category showing improved sales this year. Supermarket in-store bakery sales reached $10.4 billion for the 52-weeks ended December, 2011, a 2.2% increase over the same period last year, according to the Perishables Group. The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) recently released this data and other in-store

Prepaid Provides Incremental Sales Opportunities

Mercator Advisory Group’s Prepaid Market Forecast 2011-2014 expects prepaid market growth to slow over the next four years as regulatory and economic issues, as well as saturation in segments including unemployment, impact the market. Open-loop loads are expected to total $281.7 billion in 2013, down $139.4 billion from last year’s forecast of $421.1 billion. “I

Coffee Driving Foodservice Sales

Convenience stores are expanding their brew programs and condiment offerings, allowing guests to customize each cup. Most c-stores have embraced the consumer’s desire for customization by offering broad coffee and condiment selections and stations for customers to prep their cups the way they like. C-stores are improving coffee quality in line with greater demand for

E-Cigarettes Are Here to Stay

Until recently, e-cigs have been sold through traditional tobacco stores that normally expect a keystone or 100% markup on items other than cigarettes. Though it is hard to determine the number of e-cig users in the U.S., the National Vapers Club estimated that about a million people used e-cigs last year, so it certainly is

Energy Shot Sales Expect to Grow in 2012

Energy shots showed remarkable growth in 2011 and are on the same meteoric rise that energy drinks experienced four years ago, but they appeal to a different demographic. That was the uplifting news in a 2011 report on energy shots from Chicago-based research firm Mintel International. For example, the largest consumer group of 5-hour Energy,

Customers Energized About Energy Drinks

The energy drink market has been on an upward growth trajectory since 2010 and with the improvement in the economy is expected to continue on this positive growth path, according to Chicago-based research firm Mintel International. Energy drink sales were up about 16% in 2011 in convenience stores, as well as up about 16% across

Customers Crave Premium and Value-Priced Teas

As customers seek more healthful beverages options, look for robust tea sales in 2012 and beyond. Packaged Facts projected that the retail tea market is set to grow from approximately 6.6% in 2012 to 8.7% in 2014, reaching $8.3 billion in that year. Tea was up 5.1% in 2011, according to Chicago-based research firm Mintel

Building a Better Back Office

Back-office systems will continue to serve c-store operators better in 2012 and beyond. “The quality of point-of-sale (POS) software that is available now, and at lower prices, is changing the market,” said Rick Yost, operations manager for Dead River Co. in Bangor, Maine. “There are some great products out there moving into the clouds, where

Navigating OTP’s Legal Battleground

The prospects for OTP throughout 2012 are good, as growth remains strong. But a swelling number of revenue-strapped state legislatures continue to hungrily eye the category. “I think the category will continue to expand,” predicted Matt Hieb, category manager for Gate Petroleum, which operates 225 convenience stores in six Southeastern states.“The growth of the brands

Milk Starts its Rebound at Retail

Look for a rise in consumer demand for milk, and an increased interest in flavored products in 2012. “We see flavors, particularly chocolate milk, as a key opportunity at convenience stores in 2012,” said Vivien Godfrey, CEO, MilkPEP. “Convenience stores are really over indexed in terms of flavored milk, so of all milk sold in

Pizza Gets Personal

C-store retailers can expect to see continued growth in the pizza category in 2012. “Pizza has good hold times, is a consumer favorite and is relatively easy to prepare. Sales will be up in 2012,” said Tim Powell, director for Chicago-based research firm Technomic. Trends to watch in 2012 include an increase in take-and-bake pizzas,

Turning a Profit at the Roller Grill

One of the most maligned pieces of equipment in all of foodservice—the roller grill—remains the backbone of many c-store foodservice programs, offering an inexpensive, labor-friendly way for   operators to expand their fresh-food offering at a time when other nonfoodservice categories are declining. Roller grill sales are estimated to account for roughly 10-15% of convenience foodservice

New Products, Variety Enhancing Salty Snacks

Salty snack sales are a surging category and retailers should be going along for the ride. “All chip segments have become accepted mainstream food and that’s not going to change in 2012, said Amer Hawatmeh, president of St. George Oil in St. Louis, operator of six Coast to Coast convenience stores. Part of the attraction

Ethnic, Local Themes Among Emerging Deli Trends

International fare and regionally produced ingredients are the hottest trends in deli department foods, according to “What’s in Store 2012,” the recently released annual trends publication of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA). Eighty-two percent of consumers enjoy visiting supermarket delis that feature newer and trendier items, regardless of whether they regularly purchase these items. Delis

Lighting Your Way to Profitability

When sold responsibly, lighters are a dependable source of revenue, even as the number of smokers declines. Lighters are a much-needed tool for the home grill and candles. Another trend helping push lighter sales in c-stores is flavored cigars, which continues to grow at an impressive rate. “Tobacco accessories are alive and well, evolving with

Capturing Hispanic Customers

Offering quality customer service with bilingual employees and traditional foods can drive retail loyalty among the growing Hispanic population. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Today, Hispanic food is mainstream and attractive to a wide array of demographics seeking spicier flavors, but the secret to keeping your Hispanic customers’ repeat business lies in more than just

C-Store Count Grows 1.2%

Today there is approximately one c-store per 2,100 U.S. residents. The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 148,126 stores as of Dec. 31, 2011, a 1.2% increase (1,785 stores) from the year prior, according to the latest NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count. The convenience retailing industry has seen remarkable growth over the last

Thorntons Earns Top Chain Honors

Kentucky operator presented the industry’s most prestigious retail award at a gala in Chicago. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Convenience Store Decisions honored Louisville, Ky.-based Thorntons Inc. as its 22nd annual Convenience Store Chain of the Year at an exclusive dinner at Café Spiaggia in Chicago last month during the NACS Show. More than 200

Dissecting Private Label Trends

Private label performance is mixed across CPG channels; club and mass/super channels seeing strongest share growth. SymphonyIRI Group’s latest Times & Trends Report, “Private Label: Brand Positioning in the New World Order,” explores current and emerging trends around private label, as well as national brand efforts to protect and grow their position in the CPG

Tracking the Trends in Convenience Retailing

Despite the global recession, convenience stores have thrived thanks to their ability to provide fast service, quality products and great value in strategic locations. As service and location remain the industry’s primary competitive advantage over supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, many of whom are moving into the fuel and fresh food business, convenience stores

Family Mart On Wheels Heads to Disaster Areas

A new mobile c-store concept rolls into areas in Japan that are left without c-store access after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, as well as other food deserts in the country. Family Mart, a major c-store chain in Japan is launching a new fleet of mobile convenience store trucks to provide services to tsunami

Love’s Introduces Cardless Fueling

Love’s to install RFID technology nationwide, offering greater control over fuel theft and speedier transactions for customers. Love’s Travel Stops is set to install RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology at all of its locations nationwide. When combined with a RFID tag in the cab of the truck, this technology will enable fuel transactions without a

Coinstar Inc. Provides Q2 Results

Coinstar Inc. says goodbye to one of its executive leaders as it releases its second quarter results for fiscal 2011. Coinstar Inc., a provider in automated retail, has announced a leadership transition for the company’s redbox business, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coinstar. Mitch Lowe has resigned as president of redbox to pursue entrepreneurial and other