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.
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