Foodservice is an increasingly strategic business for c-stores across the U.S.

Prepared and commissary food, plus hot, cold and dispensed beverages, generated 21.7% of the channel’s in-store sales and 35.2% of gross profit dollars in 2016, according to a Shelby Report account of National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) State of the Industry data.  

Foodservice was second only to tobacco as a performer during 2016, a year in which c-stores posted record in-store sales of $233.0 billion. Tobacco rang up 36% of sales, and packaged beverages (not beer) were 15% of sales, the data show.

In April, when NACS issued its latest quarterly Retailer Sentiment Survey, it highlighted that “a growing percentage of retailers are optimistic about food sales….57% say sandwiches and meals will grow, 35% cite healthy packaged snacks, and 28% cite fruits and vegetables.”

A sign that this Trénd will endure: “Consumers are increasingly selecting locations to fuel based on the quality of the food inside the store,” NACS said, citing findings of its own separate consumer survey.  In response, Landhope Farms, Kennett Square, PA, has added fresh fruit smoothies and salads on demand; Kwik Trip, LaCrosse, WI, expects strong growth from its new cold-brew coffees and smoothies in 2017.

And Sheetz, Altoona, PA, continues to ramp up its college town casual dining concept launched in 2015 in Morgantown, WV, in a building where 1,000 U. of West Virginia students live.  FRG detailed its first such effort

Since then, it has opened near other universities in its headquarters state of Pennsylvania.  Ryan Sheetz, Assistant Vice President - Brand Strategies, told FRG at the time:  “Sheetz connects well with Millennials, who comprise two-thirds of our 17,000+ workforce. We also survey Millennials before we open a new store.”