Kegger at the Coffee Bar

starbucks cold brew

The trend has been bubbling for a few years. But it took a beverage behemoth and a foodservice equipment leader to get the attention of the industry.

By the end of the summer, more than 500 Starbucks locations will clear counter space for nitrogen-infused
cold-brew coffee taps, the company announced in May.

Simultaneously, New Port Richey Fla.-based Manitowoc Foodservice unveiled its Multiplex N2Fusion Beverage System at the NRA Show in Chicago.

Nashville Heat Wave Creeps North

Talk to any Nashville, Tenn., resident and they will say, “What took you so long?” Hot chicken is just now gaining the reverence it deserves outside of the Music City. And with millennial and Gen Z c-store customers after hotter, spicier and more eclectic fare, this fiery riff on fried chicken seems ready-made for a turn in c-store foodservice.

High Schoolers Smoking Less, Vaping More

vaping and cigarettes

The youth smoking rate is at a historic 25-year low.

As of 2015, 10.8% of high school students smoked, marking a 31% decline from figures from the 2013 survey
and a 41% decline from the 2011 survey. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this latest data from its National Youth Risk Behavior Survey in early June.

As reported by Business Insider, this 10.8% figure was the lowest smoking rate in the CDC survey’s 25-year history.

Gummies May Be Soft, But Sales Aren’t

bummy bears

Gummies were the candy of the ’­80s—even sparking the creation of the children’s TV show “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears,” one of the only, if not the only, type of candy to hit the small screen, according to the National Confectioners Association.

But gummies are also the candy of today. Shipments of gummy fruit snacks grew 11.1% in 2015 vs. the prior year, according to distributor data from McLane Co., Temple, Texas.

2016 Retailer Survey

second annual Convenience Store Products retailer survey

This time last year, I was in my Subaru with the crushed Cheerios and half-drunk sippy cups, family in tow, driving five hours north of my Chicago home base to my hometown in Wisconsin. I was struck by how the changing geography brought with it changing retail strategies, how the regional dynamics in Wisconsin somehow differentiated those retailers from their Chicago-based comrades.

My Answer Is ‘No’

no

Q: I have been running convenience stores for many years and understand the importance of cash flow and inventory. But seriously, aren’t there some items that we just have to carry because we are a convenience store? You know, part of the customer-service experience?

A: No!

That might sound harsh, but in Meghan Trainor’s song “No,” she is correct: “You need to let it go” if you want to grow and maintain a pro­ table business with a healthy cash flow.

Blog: Hot Products in the Summertime

Goose Island sample bus

I­ find products everywhere. Call it a hazard of the job; I have a knack.

I was at an outdoor music festival recently in Chicago. This particular festival attracts all ages. The music is eclectic, the people-watching fascinating and the temperature usually 100 degrees.

But this year it was balmy. It even rained a bit, calming the dust from the ­fields that usually play host to Chicago 16-inch softball games and family barbecues.

So Long, Sriracha?

sriracha

Rare is the food trend that’s actually new—just ask those in Southeast Asia who have been dousing their food in Sriracha for generations. In fact, unless we begin discovering entirely new plants and animals, the latest food trends will always be found by exploring the underexposed or long-forgotten.

The latest Flavor Forecast from McCormick & Co. identifies among its big menu trends of the year familiar ingredients used in new ways, untapped ethnic ideas and better-for-you bene­fits.

Foodservice Equipment: Choosing the Best

Vollrath Co. Stoelting AutoVend System

Every year, the National Restaurant Association (­NRA) announces the 25 recipients

of its Kitchen Innovations ­(KI) Awards, which honor groundbreaking equipment and technologies that have the capacity to vastly improve foodservice operations.

“KI Award recipients exemplify the advancements from foodservice industry professionals that solve the complex challenges of day-to-day back-of-house operations,” says Lisa Ingram, president and CEO of White Castle System Inc. and NRA convention chair.

Blog: From Ear Worm to Gummy Worm

Albanese Confection

I have to admit to something: I have any one of five songs stuck in my head all the time. One is “Bunny Hop,” one is “Yakety Sax,” two others are too embarrassing to mention, and the other is this lovely song I learned at Girl Scouts camp.

“Make new friends, but keep the old …”

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