Consumers Go Veggie or Go Home

potato chips

Snacks owe their growth in part to consumer sensibilities. Consumers want more options, and they want to eat them more often.

The category is such big business that tried-and-true convenience-store favorites ­potato chips, pretzels, popcorn and jerky‑ aren't even the biggest movers in the category. Healthy alternatives, such as chips made with vegetables, are enjoying considerable growth and revitalizing the category as a whole, according to Packaged Facts' report, Snack Food Nutrition Trends: Pulses, Vegetables and Grains in Salty Snacks and Crackers.

Tobacco Embraces 'Natural'

Natural American Spirits cigarettes

It’s working in other categories in the c-store. Why not in tobacco, too?

Products positioned as “natural” is an attractive subcategory for convenience retailers to consider in the premium-tobacco space. And Illinois retailer Mark Gil is doing just that.

Natural cigarettes are a winner in his single store, he says, because they conjure up a perception of organic, Mother Earthiness—and he considers it well worth the premium price point the subcategory commands.

Equipment to Conserve Energy and Budgets

At this year’s NAFEM foodservice-equipment show in Orlando, Fla., some operators sought upgrades to their tried-and-true kitchen equipment. Others had radical ambitions. But both groups were focused on the same themes: advanced technology and energy-saving features.

Opinion: Spring Cleaning

For a while I just stood back and stared at it.

Its reedy tentacles reached up to the cold Chicago clouds. Its woody roots dug deep into the ground, under the fence, under the garage, under the cement in the alley.

The trumpet vine—aka Campsis radicans, aka trumpet creeper, aka huge pain in the a$$—was pulling my fence apart. It eased a piece of siding off my garage to wind itself around an old bike trailer inside and swallow up an old basketball pump discarded next to the wall.

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How E-Z Stop Foodmarts Is Doing More With Less

mobile technology

Donna Perkins, pricebook manager for 23-store chain E-Z Stop Foodmarts, Maryville, Tenn., is dedicated to making work easier and more efficient for all of her colleagues, from those on the store floor to corporate headquarters.

Q: What will be some of the biggest changes in the back office this year?

Cashing In on Grocery and Dairy


Patsy Varpula, pricebook manager for eight-store chain Fabulous Freddy’s, Las Vegas, knows that the economy and the weather can upset a manager’s best-laid plans.

But another, rather unlikely factor recently reshaped the chain’s approach to the general merchandise category, as more stringent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations forced Varpula to reduce her grocery and dairy product mix. She tells Convenience Store Products how it affected sales, as well as her forecast for the category in the year to come.

Racetrac Sweetens Set With Private Label


Hilary Freeman, senior category manager for confection for RaceTrac, Atlanta, develops the candy set for the retailer’s 430 stores by studying the category across all channels. This strategy has helped the company stay ahead of the trends, even allowing it to create its own private-label confection brand.

Q: How do you approach new confection products?

Healthy Snacks to Dominate in 2017

healthy snacks

As he juggles multiple categories for more than­ 100 Terrible Herbst stores in and around Las Vegas, Mark Walters, the chain’s vice president of sales and marketing, says the snacks category remains a key revenue and profit driver. And in this new year, Walters anticipates growing the category with even stronger sales made possible by quality vendor and distributor partnerships, and an increasing focus on promotions.

Here are some of Walters’ thoughts on what lies ahead for the snack set.



clif energy granola blueberry crisp

 Snack mix, granola, pickles and more


New innovations across packaged and foodservice

jelly belly candy cones

Sour treats are trending in the confection world