A New Sweet Spot in Snacking


While a protein-packed cinnamon roll might seem unusual, it’s simply part of a new sweet-snack evolution that marries function with fun. With an eye on that healthy halo, consumers are mandating suppliers steer new-product innovation more toward real ingredients, natural sweetening agents, protein and portion control—all in core convenience o­fferings such as breads, biscuits, cookies, cakes, pastries, rolls and pies.

Noodles 101


Spaghetti, ramen, pho, chow mein, chicken noodle soup, mac and cheese: Noodles have a place in nearly every cuisine, from the exotic to the hyper-familiar.

Easy and economical to prepare, noodles meet consumers’ needs on several fronts, including robust ­flavor, health and, often, customizability. There’s also the lure of ethnic in­fluences, as evidenced by Asian-style noodle bowls, which have been trending for the past few years. In fact, MenuMonitor data from Technomic shows that Asian bowl meals are up 10% on restaurant menus since 2011.

Want to Sell More Vape?

Vaping man

While there is no magic bullet when it comes to selling vape and e-cigarette products in c-stores, the industry has matured to the point that experts can help retailers and suppliers learn from their mistakes, and continue to ride the category’s history of innovation.

Cynthia Cabrera, consultant with Miami-based Cating Group, spoke with Convenience Store Products on the e­ffect of NJOY’s bankruptcy, the role of brick-and-mortar retail and what operators should consider if they want to sell more vaping-related products.

Filling In With Frozen

Frozen food aisle

A typical grocery store has a lot of square footage devoted to frozen food—space that isn’t as readily available in c-stores. But don’t write off­ frozen completely.

“We are seeing a lot more just-in-time shopping, and this is causing shoppers to spread their dollars across more channels and retailers,” says Susan Viamari, vice president of thought leadership for Chicago-based IRI.

The Hot 100

Lighting a match

It’s been only about 400 days since we launched CStoreProductsOnline.com, and we’ve already amassed seven times that number in hot new products available to the industry.

In a little more than a year, we’ve put together a database of nearly 2,800 products. The site has become a go-to for retailers interested in finding new-product trends before they become, well, trends. It’s a new-product repository, a time stamp of consumer demands, and a catalogue of the core products that still make up 80% of your sales.

Defeating the Easy Button

Amazon Dash Red Bull button

Button, button—who’s got the Amazon Dash Button?

Unfortunately, brands in your store. Hershey, for one, established an Ice Breakers dash button in 2015. Other candy and snack brands participating are Mondelez, Wrigley (Orbit gum), Clif Bar, Frito-Lay (Doritos) and Perfetti Van Melle (Mentos).

Is Your Refrigerator Running?

running refrigerator

Three words c-store foodservice operators never want to hear: The machine’s down. But as foodservice programs grow more sophisticated, best practices for equipment maintenance, repair and staffing are critical.

Steve Every, vice president of managed service and international for The ICEE Co., Ontario, Calif., likens buying equipment without preventive maintenance to “buying a car with the ‘check engine’ light on.”

Drinking Outside the Box

Wine in a Tetra Pak? Ready-to-drink cocktails and shots in a pouch? Brillant … if you’re a consumer. But for the convenience-store operator, these packaging innovations can be a head-scratcher.

Alternative packaging for alcohol arguably originated decades ago with wine in a box. While consumer perception of boxed wine hasn’t always been favorable, that’s no longer the case.

“Many consumers are now accepting of the ‘box wine’ proposition and appreciate the

Catch the Meal-Kit Craze

Blue Apron

Ready-to-cook meal kits are all about convenience. At least that’s what Erik Thoresen, principal with Chicago-based Technomic, thought.

But it turns out there’s more to it than that.

According to Technomic’s research, convenience is just one of the reasons behind the growing trend. Health and, interestingly, entertainment value were attractive features that showed up signi­ficantly in consumer surveys.

Rutter's Cleans Up

Rutters Farm Store convenience store

This was Rutter’s Farm Stores’ first year in the CSP/Service Intelligence Mystery Shop, and it’s off to a sparkling start.

The York, Pa.-based chain of more than 60 stores ranked ­fifth in the mystery shop overall. Helping it place high was its strong cleaning game, beginning with the exterior.

“Cleanliness is built into the culture of this company,” says Jere Matthews, vice president of operations for Rutter’s Farm Stores. “It’s been here since day one.”



Sheetz, State College, PA

Ninety-two percent of urban residents travel fewer than 15 minutes for routine purchases. What do they need from your store?

Topo Chico

The top-selling new products in the United States this quarter


What do consumers want today? Healthy, portion-controlled and loaded with protein and premium ingredients

convenience store products Nov-Dec 2016 issue

Hot 100: The most clicked c-store products of the year