With plenty of new products, challenges and changes, 2018 was a transformative year for convenience stores. Through this transformation, the industry has become more competitive, especially with gas prices back down to a reasonable level. In 2019, customers said they expect c-stores to carry healthy options and offer grab-and-go gourmet fare. Convenience is still king, but if the menu execution is lacking, customers can easily take their business elsewhere.
In this deep dive, we've shared four of this year's top c-store foodservice trends, which can refresh your menu to give consumers what they are looking for and increase profits. We've also outlined the real challenges that come with rising labor costs in the foodservice industry. These trends can help you decide where to spend your money, whether it's to stock more artisanal products or invest in smarter cooking solutions.
Unique Vegan Options
As consumers adopt healthier habits and eat less meat, the demand for vegan menu items continues to grow. Many c-stores have started carrying vegan and vegetarian dishes that can be taken to-go. Some gourmet c-stores have even asked celebrity chefs to craft seasonal grab-and-go menus with all-organic ingredients and creative vegan recipes.
Grab-and-Go Gourmet Fare
Many c-store patrons want a quick meal that they can eat while traveling, and they're happy to spend a bit more for fresh, gourmet food. Today's Vector® Multi-Cook ovens allow c-store operators to cook multiple menu items simultaneously, with independent temperature, cook time, and fan speed controls in each chamber. Meanwhile, heated shelf merchandisers hold food at ideal temperatures evenly and retain more moisture. They keep your grab-and-go items fresh, while also reducing food waste and boosting impulse sales with LED lighting and customizable branding.
Ventless Cooking Solutions
Cooking in a c-store can present unique challenges that restaurants don't have to worry about. If you're trying to make the most of a small floor plan, the new trend is to invest in a ventless oven that doesn't require an exhaust hood. This allows you to install the oven virtually anywhere, including a countertop. Vector H Series ovens are certified ventless and provide an unmatched volume and variety of food at the highest quality in a small space.
Rising Labor Costs
One of the largest issues affecting c-store operators, labor costs have been rising at least 8% a year, and turnover at c-stores is already high. In 2017, the turnover was as much as 115%. With low unemployment and plenty of job openings, c-stores will need to compete for competent cooks and staff members. Cooking solutions with customizable recipes can help carry the burden, but owners will need to get creative and take better care of their employees.
Explore which c-store foodservice trend is worth your money by taking our handy quiz, in partnership with CSP.
For more information on the best foodservice equipment for your c-store, read our latest guide here.