Learn how C-Store foodservice is adapting to our changing culture. 

Jerald Barrett, Principal Consultant with Impact 21, shares his insights on the evolving foodservice role within the convenience store channel.

In what ways is the foodservice landscape is changing rapidly. How, and in what ways?

Today’s consumer is more knowledgeable about food than ever before. This knowledge can come from exposure to foods from around the world, the countless cooking shows, or the gamut of unique food concepts dotting the landscape with distinct flavor profiles. Each of these impact the consumer’s knowledge. There is also a much deeper understanding and awareness of ingredients and nutritional values. Millennials drive a good part of this trend with their desire for products they perceive as healthier. Non-GMO, grass-fed, free-range and gluten-free are all current buzz words. Simply put, there is a more educated, sophisticated consumer and new norms.

There is also a dramatic change in eating patterns. People are eating smaller meals, more frequently and looking to do so as part of a busy lifestyle. The typical millennial, for example, may eat four to five meals per day and at non-traditional times. Breakfast all day has significant momentum and eggs are now considered an option throughout the day. 

Advanced technology has also changed the foodservice landscape. It now drives the manufacturing process as well as foodservice management. There have been significant advances in manufacturing processes that allow for delivery of high quality prepared foods including sauces, proteins, entrees and sides. This greatly expands the options for retailers as to their offerings without overburdening the labor component or requiring a highly skilled culinarian.

On the foodservice management front, technological advances allow for a more sophisticated kitchen management solution and full integration into retail automation. Today’s technology has streamlined numerous processes within foodservice, including building recipes, forecasting demand, setting production requirements, cost analysis, inventory control, food safety and profit management. Subsequently, the ability to drive and gain insights into the results helps increase overall success of foodservice operations.

 

C-Store foodservice has reached 22% of in-store sales. What’s the reason for this? How do consumer lifestyles play a part? Is this related to economics? Is it generational?

The changes in foodservice landscape has created new opportunities for C-Stores. This is true because of changing lifestyles, and demand for high quality, diverse foods in a ready-to-eat form. Teens, millennials, service workers and soccer moms have now joined the traditional c-store customer in accepting c-stores as a viable foodservice option. 

Our growing economy is also a catalyst for demand due to emerging markets, new construction and a demand for more service workers. Other channels have to face the facts. Millennials see our channel differently than the “oil and gas” of the past. 

We are “fast and fresh” and more often than other channels, offer mobile apps and loyalty programs to meet their fast-paced lifestyles. 

Many c-stores have capitalized on these opportunities by presenting more robust, diverse, and comprehensive foodservice offerings. Being able to readily deliver these products more consistently, with higher quality and without overburdening the labor budget has resulted in increases in the c-store’s ability to effectively compete in the foodservice arena. Successful stores have been able to effectively offer and communicate a high-quality foodservice offer with a great value proposition.

 

What types of C-Stores need foodservice assessments? Is this based on chain size or can any size chain benefit? 

Assessments are beneficial to any size chain as a fresh, objective look can often identify opportunities for improvement. There are often significant gaps between foodservice expectations and what is achieved. It is easy to become “foodservice blind” with the many competing priorities and demands within each store.

A trained expert can take an objective, focused look at foodservice operations and identify opportunities to more effectively manage food safety, improve quality, reduce costs and drive profitability. The goal of the assessment is to not only identify the opportunities but to provide a roadmap to prioritize and address these opportunities.

 

What need do C-Store leaders express as a reason for wanting a foodservice assessment?

C-store leaders want an objective, unbiased look at their operation with an identification of gaps and a plan to address them. There is a desire for peace of mind around food safety and knowing there are not any glaring issues. They want to see what is missing to better engage customers and beat the competition. 

Defining what success means should be part of a good assessment. It may be simply more profit, or a desire to elevate the
offering or a comprehensive foodservice strategy.

 

Which roles are most interested in foodservice assessments?

Foodservice assessments include components that touch every area of the organization

To excel in foodservice requires a comprehensive foodservice strategy.

That strategy includes: 

  • Product and menu development 
  • Concept and program design 
  • Distribution and supply chain 
  • Merchandising and marketing 
  • Management and execution standards 
  • Training and food safety 
  • Reporting and accountability

An effective foodservice assessment identifies the key opportunities for each area of the organization and how each role contributes to the overall success of the foodservice program. This can elevate the entire organization beyond foodservice as the roles are refined, reporting processes are set, gaps are closed and a focused streamlined organization emerges. The C-suite cares about foodservice being a competitive advantage and how it drives bottom line results. KPI’s should be monitored on weekly or monthly basis. That empowers executives to make right decisions about the foodservice program. When foodservice becomes a key component of the business, food safety becomes a concern.

Operations is concerned with planogram compliance, out of stocks, shrink, actual versus theoretical cost, and profit against budget. Other components of the balanced scorecard will include customer analytics, training and safety compliance, and standards adherence.

Coming soon- Jerald addresses detailed info on assessments, common retailer oversights, customer perceptions, and more in Part 2 of Hungry for Improvement in Your Foodservice Business. Stayed tuned or download the full article below.