Racetrac Sweetens Set With Private Label

candy

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.

Millennial Values Reshape the Tobacco Set

In taking what she calls a “customer-centric” approach to the tobacco category, Chelsey Capps says identifying the wants and needs of emerging demographics—specifically millennials—and responding with new merchandising tactics is critical for keeping the segment vibrant and profitable.

To that end, Capps, merchandise manager for American Retail Services, better known as ARS, Oceanside, Calif., has made significant changes with contracts and store sets. So far, the yearlong gamble is paying off for the eight-state, 144-store chain.

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

bakery

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

pasta

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.

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