The US’s 150,000+ c-stores pulled in revenues of $40.1bn in 2013, up 1.9% over the past five years, according to flavor and NPD consultancy group FONA International. It said this retail channel was particularly strong for snack sales.
“Every day 28 million people in the US eat a grab-and-go snack, and these snacks are 50% more likely to be eaten while traveling or in a car. According to the NPD Group, c-stores are five times more likely to be a source for these grab-and-go snacks,” FONA said in its latest report Convenience Store Experience.
It said General Mills and Kellogg had been active players in c-store snack offerings. In January 2014, General Mills introduced new flavors of its Chex Chips and Nature Valley Nut Clusters. Kellogg also introduced Pringles Tortilla Crisps in three flavors.
Early morning c-store stop, fueled by coffee…
However, FONA said there were clear opportunities in the breakfast segment.
“With the ‘snackification’ of America, more and more consumers are eating around the clock. Innovative breakfast items are emerging and are being offered throughout the day and night,” it said.
Quick-serve restaurants (QSRs) were crafting breakfast sandwiches, it said, and consumer packaged goods manufacturers were developing portable, convenient products.
FONA said “c-stores top other types of retail locations for breakfast patronage, and c-stores are the only segment to see a significant increase in this patronage over the past few years, likely driven by coffee purchases”.
Tim Powell, director of research and consulting at Technomics, said in the report that c-store foods need to be propped up with a beverage program. “A prepared foods program without a solid coffee program to anchor it would not be successful.”
Sandwiches top breakfast choice at c-stores
FONA said sandwiches topped the breakfast entrée choice for consumers shopping at c-stores, something several chains had tapped into, including 7-Eleven with its 180 calorie Egg White breakfast sandwich that can be toasted or microwaved in store. Nice N Easy had also introduced breakfast pot pies following the success of its hand-held savory pies launched in November 2013.
“Watch as c-stores continue to gain traction and compete with FDM [food, drug and mass] channels and QSRs as they offer new and improved fresh quick foodservice options including breakfast items, healthier snacks, and innovative portable consumer packaged foods and beverages,” FONA said.