A career in insights and marketing has honed my research and writing skills. I've supported a variety of industries including CPGs, foodservice, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, utilities and fresh foods. I have experience writing proposals, presentations, copy for catalogs and print ads, sell-in materials, reports and site content. My expertise is presenting data and information in engaging, easy-to-understand language.
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Fresh Food-to-Go Delivers Value to Consumers, Drives Dollars and Profits for Convenience Stores
From food-trucks and farmer’s markets to on-line ordering and delivery, consumers’ options for buying food away-from-home continue to expand.
In 2016, food service generated more than half of food industry sales, exceeding grocery by 1.2 percentage points, according to Acosta, Inc., Jacksonville, and Technomic, Inc., Chicago. The National Restaurant Association’s outlook for US Food Service is robust, outpacing inflation with +5% expected gains as consumers face lower food and fuel costs. The need for convenient solutions to eating has also contributed to this growth – consumers look for easy-to-eat, easy-to-prepare foods to fit their lifestyles.
But food away-from-home is about more than convenience. Food value is also defined by freshness and fun. Consumers are demanding less processed foods, and are interested in food adventure through a variety of tastes and formats. A recent report from Mintel shows 79% of sandwich-buying consumers are willing to pay more for premium sandwiches. And 7 in 10 say they want high quality sandwiches made with all-natural ingredients. An equal number are interested in switching up from the traditional sandwich served cold to a toasted option. Hot food offerings are an integral part of convenience store foodservice with nearly 9 in 10 consumers (88%) surveyed in 2016 by Technomic stating they buy hot food items at c-stores, and purchasing is up with 44% claiming to buy hot foods more often than last year.
Many convenience store operators recognized these trends and have developed programs to meet shopper needs. As a result, frequency of visits has broadened, with more than three out of four foodservice consumers (77%) now saying they visit convenience stores at least once a week, according to a Technomic survey. And 30% say they’ve increased their foodservice spending at convenience stores. The average convenience store spend increased +3.4% in 2016, but having food as part of the transaction increases value. A VideoMining study demonstrated food-to-go boosts the average transaction in convenience stores by +14%. Sales increase by +19% for evening/late night baskets.
A successful fresh food-to-go program provides shoppers with an exciting menu that meets their current needs and entices repeat purchasing. Key components of a strong food-to-go program include the following:
Using this best-practice checklist can help c-store operators become a source of great food for their shoppers and capture the growth generated by fresh food-to-go.