Kitchen Must-Haves

Building a foodservice program from the ground up is a major investment in both time and money. Having the right lineup of equipment to get the job done is a crucial part of that investment.

Tracking Beverage Trends for the New Year

c-store cold vault

If nonalcohol-beverage category manager Samantha Barry had a crystal ball, she imagines it would tell her that ready-to-drink ­RTD‑ coffee and energy drinks will continue to lead sales growth in the new year.

In her two years of overseeing packaged beverages for Mount Olive, N.C.-based E.J. Pope & Sons (­and six years overall working for the chain of 39 Handy Mart c-stores), Barry finds

Grab-and-Go, Go, Go

Convenience stores can’t a­fford to stand still when it comes to innovating their grab-and-go offer.

C-store prepared-foods sales increased 4% in 2016, according to Technomic, and with that growth comes higher consumer expectations around the variety, quality and flavor of retailers’ on-the-go fare.

Last fall, Broomall, Pa.-based drive-thru retailer Swiss Farms expanded the assortment of its Fresh Solutions line of takeaway meals with chef-created, better-for-you options. It even gave the line a new name: Modern Palate.

E-Commerce: Lifeline or Flatline?

Inside the store, customers develop a tight relationship with your products. They touch them, take in their aromas, become inspired by creative displays. They understand how certain products pair with others, guided by plan-o-grams that help them fill their impulse basket.

It’s brick-and-mortar category management 101.

But that science is under pressure due to the disruptive growth of e-commerce, as both iconic and small populist brands capitalize on online selling and the advantages of single-click convenience and quick delivery.

Opinion: Keep Calm And C-Store On

online retailing

This column is starting out like all the others: a blinking line and a blank space. I’ve been staring at the cursor, matching the rhythm of my heart to the flicker on the screen, for about 11 solid minutes. Any minute now, inspiration will hit.

It always does.

The good thing is, I know what I want to write about. The question is, how?

(­Stands up to get a cup of coffee)

I’m not procrastinating. I’m not. I just can’t figure out how to talk about Amazon. I feel as if I’ve talked about it so much already.

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.



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Just When You Think You've Seen It All, It's Show Time Again