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How many c-stores and gas stations offer foodservice and what do those programs look like?

If you roll back five years, a presentation by Darren Tristano, then the President of Technomic, Inc., presented some interesting information about the maturity of c-store foodservice programs at a NACS event. He reported that:

  • 90% of gas stations and c-stores offered foodservice, but that most of their programs were pretty basic, selling traditional hot/cold beverages, a limited selection of roller grill, grab-and-go, and managing it with limited merchandising and signage
  • 7% of those selling foodservice had more advanced programs such as some made-to-order with on-site prep and only 3% were leaders with full made-to-order/on-site prep programs, including the use of fresh ingredients.

What do these programs look like today? 

NACS Foodservice Classification

Before delving into the latest stats, knowing a bit about how NACS classifies foodservice might help. The stats include five main foodservice categories:

  • Commissary (packaged sandwiches and other food)
  • Foodservice Prepared On-site (prepared sandwiches, etc.)
    • Further segmented into Franchised/Licensed, Proprietary/Control Brand, Manufacturer Brand
  • Hot Dispensed Beverages (coffee, etc.)
  • Cold Dispensed Beverages (fountain drinks, etc.)
  • Frozen Dispensed Beverages (slush, etc.)

The Franchise Influence

I’ll also point out that many travel centers and c-stores offer foodservice prepared on-site through franchised QSRs. In fact, some of the biggest multi-unit franchisees are travel stops and c-stores. These appeared in the 2021 99 Top Multi-Unit Franchisees report:

  • Pilot Travel Centers (Subway, Cinnabon, Dunkin’, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, DQ Treat, Pizza Hut, Moe’s Southwest Grill, KFC, Hot Stuff Pizza, Ihop, Carvel, Auntie Anne’s, Burger King, Denny’s, Chester’s, Mcdonald’s)
  • Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores (Subway, Godfather’s Pizza, Chester’s, Hardee’s, Taco John’s, IHop, Dunkin’, Arby’s, DQ Treat)
  • Speedway (Dunkin’, Subway, Wendy’s)  
  • TA Operating (Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Taco Bell, Subway, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dunkin’, Arby’s, Fuddruckers, Charleys Philly Steaks, Fazoli’s, A&W, Wendy’s, Black Bear Diner, KFC, Carl’s Jr., Tacotime, Hot Stuff Pizza, IHop, Baskin- Robbins, Super 8 By Wyndham, Noble Roman’s)  
  • Circle K Stores (Subway, Blimpie, Hot Stuff Pizza, Church’s Chicken, Hardee’s, DQ Treat, DQ Grill & Chill, Noble Roman’s, Huddle House, Chevron, Texaco)  

NACS 2021 Stats (2020 Data)

It isn’t a surprise that some foodservice categories decreased during the pandemic, including freshly prepared food and hot dispensed beverages. You can see, however, that foodservice seems to generally be on the increase.

  • Foodservice accounted for 8.7% of sales and 19% of gross margin
  • % of C-Stores Sell
    • Prepared Food = 91.3% of C-Stores (mainly sandwiches and accounted for most foodservice sales)
    • Commissary = 97.2% of C-Stores (primarily sandwiches)
    • Hot Dispensed Beverages = 98.9% of C-Stores (mostly coffee)
    • Cold Dispensed Beverages = 98.1% of C-Stores
    • Frozen Dispensed Beverages = 94.9% of C-Stores

Foodservice inventory has a shorter shelf life than other categories and therefore subject to higher spoilage rates, shorter inventory turns and should be managed differently than other categories.

Learn about the foodservice inventory management and in-store ordering technology from Petrosoft.

References:

Prospering in Foodservice: Why are the big guys struggling and what can we learn from it? Darren Tristano, President, Technomic, Inc., presentation delivered at the NACS Convenience Summit Europe 2017

https://issuu.com/franchiseupdate/docs/mu21_q1

https://www.convenience.org/Research/NACS-Category-Definitions-Number-Guide/Category-Definitions-8.pdf

https://www.convenience.org/Solutions/Store/Products/NACS-SOI-Report-of-2020-Data