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Convenience Stores Focus of Foodservice Freshness

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The convenience store sector continues to drive top line sales, bottom-line profits and incremental year over year customer counts garnering new and repeat customer from the grocery store sector, dollar store sector and the restaurant sector according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
With new guidelines and restrictions on restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic, somedays C-store fresh food retailers are moving one step forward others it seems they are taking one step back. However,  their foodservice has become a safe and reliable source of fresh, delicious and convenient meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for all according to new research from Nielsen.
Brian Ferguson, vice president and chief merchant for Pilot Co., stated, “While some guests will gravitate toward grab and go, our freshly prepared hot food is especially popular for professional drivers who are on the road for long periods of time and look forward to a warm meal while away from home,”
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Ferguson continued adding “that Pilot Flying J stores added back self-service options such as roller grills and soup bars in June, offering single-use disposable paper sleeves for guests to use when handling tongs and ladles. Details like this emphasize the company’s focus on “keeping health and safety top priorities,” Ferguson said.” While roller grills are one step back, Johnson noted that hot fresh food from a visceral display roller grill rings true for many seeking comfort foods.
Exploiting new expanding daypart opportunities Pilot Flying J is promoting availability of  bold flavored and new flavored selections with daily, weekly and monthly deals, which are communicated via digital coupons through its app, special prices through its loyalty programs and seasonal limited-time offers (LTOs).
Among the promotions are ‘Thungry’ (buy one snack get one free with purchase of beverage) and the professional driver-oriented ‘Hungry Driver’ (savings on freshly prepared meal bundles including five-piece wings or tenders meal with beverage purchase).  
Get this Flying J is not alone as the Nielsen report noted, during the four-week period beginning in mid-June, food sales “exploded” for Kwik Trip and Kwik Star, according to Paul Servais, the company’s retail food service director. Sales from that period were ahead of those during the same time the year before.
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C-stores are filling a gap by adding technology, for marketing, messaging, and delivery.  Servais continues “new customers were pleasantly surprised to find that the stores’ shelves were always well stocked with basics such as milk, butter and eggs from their own dairy, commissary and bakery” “In many cases, we were the only game in town,” he said. “We also offer home delivery in some areas by partnering with two third-party services.” 
The stores have resumed normal foodservice operations including self-service condiment bars, dispensed beverages and single-serve bakery. In the works are promotions through the company’s loyalty program and the development of take-home family meal offerings.   
Joshua Clark, category manager for fresh foods at Nourianoted “Switching popular self-service foodservice items such as pizza and hot dogs to prepackaged or full-service. Pizza slices and, in some locations, hot dogs on buns are prepackaged in bags. At some stores, roller grills were moved to the back for service by associates. Clark described breakfast as “the canary in the coal mine.” Which regular readers of this blog understand well.  How are you repositioning your brand, products, to garner new customers?
Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter
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