PODCAST: A fresh look at convenience store food
You’ve probably seen a billboard or a commercial on TV recently, touting the fresh food options at your local convenience store. It’s all about getting you to go inside after pumping your gas.
I pay at-the-pump most of the time and often the closest I get to the inside of the gas station is the Redbox machine. But on my last couple of quick stops into c-stores for milk or a quick snack, I’ve realized that gas station food has gone way beyond the roller grill.
Many have a grocery store look-and-feel, featuring some pretty delicious looking food – all the way from fresh fruits to grandmas’s-style baked goods. (Both of which I thoroughly enjoy indulging in).
While I stop at c-stores for gas on a regular basis, I never really thought of them as a place where I could buy quality groceries on the go.
But this summer that changed after I chatted with some leaders in the convenience and food service industry.
John Peterson has worked for Kwik Trip 15 years, and he’s currently the team leader at the Kwik Trip in Eagan, Minnesota.
He has watched foodservice in convenience stores go from cold to hot, literally.
“When I started working at Kwik Trip, we didn’t have hot food. We offered hot dogs on our roller grill,” says Peterson. “We got into hot food and it struggled for the first couple years, but then we added five turbo shelf ovens that cook food faster than a convection oven. It helps us produce items for our guests right here in the store. It’s really taken off. Every year our hot food sales grow, and we’re always looking for new products to offer in our hot spot.”
Not only does Kwik Trip offer hot grab-and-go items, they also they also have their own line of premium coffees and baked goods, plus they make many of their fresh products at their campus in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
General Mills Convenience serves the c-store industry with a range of products, including several developed exclusively for the channel.
For instance, Pillsbury Minis are a c-store exclusive line of bakery-style pastries in a bite-size portion, packaged for eating on-the-go, designed with the c-store shopper’s distinct needs in mind.
Peterson says advertising, word of mouth and daily food deals have helped Kwik Trip become known as a one-stop gas and grocery stop for busy people.
“People don’t have time to go grocery shopping and get a week’s worth of groceries anymore. They have time to pick up groceries for maybe two nights,” he says. “I think c-stores are going to have to continue to evolve into that mini grocery store where you can get what you need for your family.”
For our August “A Taste of General Mills” podcast I talked with Madalena Morgan, a leader at another innovative c-store in the Twin Cities, Bobby & Steve’s Auto World. I also discussed industry trends with Abbie Westra, editor of a well-known convenience and food service magazine.
Among other things, you’ll find out:
-What consumers expect (or don’t expect) from c-stores today
-How c-stores are adapting to align with changing food preferences
-How fast food can also be fresh food
It’s easy to listen to our show when you’re on the go. Just listen on any podcast app on your mobile device (search for A Taste of General Mills) or through iTunes or right here on our blog.
Listen (12 min)
SHOW NOTES – Episode 12: August 31, 2016
Link: Kwik Trip
Link: CSP Magazine
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