Which Foodservice Trends Stole the 2019 NACS Show?

The 2019 NACS Show affirmed that premium foodservice is one of today’s hottest convenience-store trends. The lines to snag plates of fried chicken and pizza, among other samples, stretched across the show floor, and it took some attendees nearly 30 minutes to get much sought-after dishes.

Click through for some foodservice trends that attracted attention at this year’s NACS Show in Atlanta …

Photographs by Convenience Store Products staff

Fried-chicken madness

Fried chicken was ubiquitous on the show floor. Brands including Chester’s International, Broaster, Milford Valley, Quik n’ Crispy and McCain Foods showcased deep-fried chicken in bone-in, boneless and sandwich forms. Some also offered Southern-inspired sides along with the chicken, including mashed potatoes with gravy, biscuits, boudin, potato wedges and macaroni and cheese. Krispy Krunchy Chicken, for instance, debuted its brand-new Krispy Krunchy Crispitos and State Fair Corn Dogs.

Pizza variations

Several exhibitors presented pizza in new and unique formats. Rich’s Foodservice debuted its new Ready to Stretch Sheeted Pizza dough, which comes in cheese, pepperoni, cheeseburger, chipotle chicken bacon ranch, breakfast, Detroit-style and Lot-zza Tot-zza varieties. Hunt Brothers Pizza displayed its new Chicken Alfredo Pizza, as well as its Classic Pepperoni Trio and Chicken Bacon Ranch varieties. And the McLane Co. showcased its new Buffalo Chicken Pizza.


The smoky scent of barbecue couldn’t be ignored on the show floor. The Eby-Brown Co. debuted its new Barbeque Pulled Pork sliders and barbecue sauces, which come in Moonshine, Jala-Mango, Carolina, Original, Smokey and Sweet flavors, while Smithfield Foods showcased its new pulled pork and beef brisket tacos.

Breakfast for dinner

Breakfast flavors for lunch and dinner items were a fresh addition to the show. Products included:

  • Johnsonville’s Italian Breakfast Panini, which contains Italian sausage, eggs, peppers, onions and provolone cheese grilled on sourdough bread.
  • Rich’s Foodservice’s Maple Waffle Flatbread, which is made with maple chips and maple flavoring and is meant to be the bun to a chicken or sausage sandwich.
  • Tyson’s new Jimmy Dean Breakfast Burritos, which come in two varieties: sausage, egg and cheese; and bacon, sausage, egg and cheese.

Effective packaging

Packaging manufacturers brought new and improved solutions to the floor. For instance, Fisher Paper Products unveiled its new Pizza Slice Sleeve and Sandwich Wrap & Basket Liner. The Pizza Slice Sleeve has an adjoining opening and is made with grease-resistant paper to reduce oil breakthrough. The Sandwich Wrap & Basket Liner is made from dry wax newspaper print and, like the Pizza Sleeve, aims to decrease grease breakthrough. The wrap and liner also provide moisture retention, making it a sustainable alternative to paperboard and plastic containers, the company said.

Coffee flavors

Coffee remains a staple at convenience stores, and suppliers at the show weren’t shy about it. Manufacturers included S&D Coffee & Tea, Red Diamond Coffee & Tea, Community Coffee Co., Franke Coffee Systems and Ronnoco Beverage Solutions, all of which debuted new flavors and varieties on a classic cup of joe. Keurig Dr Pepper showcased its new Green Mountain Coffee Roasters flavors, including Sumatra Reserve Dark Roast, Colombia Select Medium Roast, Kenya Highlands Medium Roast and Costa Rica Paraiso Medium Roast.

High-tech equipment

Foodservice equipment ranging from air fryers and roller grills to Slurpee dispensers and bean-to-cup coffee machines made their mark at the show. One included Wilbur Curtis’s GemX Commercial Coffee Brewing System, which is equipped with the company’s IntelliFresh and FreshTrac technologies that ensure coffee temperatures and streamline labor. Users of this system can also monitor freshness and temperature via touchscreens and the LED lighting system that flashes when attention is needed.