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    C-Stores Wake Up to Breakfast Competition

    Channel must improve consumers? perception of its breakfast programs

    Breakfast Purchases at Convenience Stores

    With more quick-service restaurants adding breakfast or ramping up their existing morning menus, convenience stores must strengthen their breakfast programs to attract morning diners.

    According to Technomic?s Breakfast Consumer Trend Report, c-stores are the top breakfast destination during the week for only 5 percent of consumers, compared to 56 percent who said fast-food burger and sandwich restaurants are their primary breakfast destinations. Additionally, 31 percent of patrons said they plan to purchase breakfast from c-stores less often this year, with many citing low-quality options and a desire to eat healthier as their reasoning for the decrease in visits.

    The perception of c-store breakfast fare as being low quality and unhealthy indicates an opportunity for the channel?s operators to highlight more premium, better-for-you breakfast options. One c-store chain rising to the challenge is Wawa Inc., which earlier this summer added an Egg White Omelet Sandwich featuring spinach and tomato and containing fewer than 500 calories. Wawa also gave patrons the option of ordering egg whites in a bowl, hoagie or breakfast burrito. Kwik Trip Inc. is another chain that debuted an egg-white sandwich recently, launching an Egg White, Ham & Cheese English Muffin.

    C-stores are also promoting high-quality coffee options by emphasizing where the beans are sourced. Turkey Hill Minit Markets debuted Kona Classic coffee featuring a blend of Hawaiian and Central American beans, while SuperAmerica LLC added Brazilian Amazon coffee made with Brazilian beans.

    In addition to upscale fare, diners seek portable breakfast options and a diverse breakfast menu. More than 60 percent of patrons cited portability and variety as important factors when visiting a c-store for breakfast. Retailers can offer both variety and portability by adding breakfast handhelds with new meats, cheeses and/or breads.

    In July, Cumberland Farms Inc. introduced an Asiago Bagel Sandwich featuring egg, steak and Muenster cheese on an Asiago bagel. Also in July, Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes expanded its breakfast offering by introducing its first wrap: an Italian Sausage Breakfast Wrap made with Italian sausage, egg, cheese, green peppers and onions.

    C-stores can increase variety by expanding their morning beverage programs, too. For instance, in June, QuikTrip Corp. began offering frapp├ęs at its Tucson, Ariz.-area locations.

    The convenience channel should continue developing creative, premium handhelds and coffees to attract consumers seeking quality, convenient options at breakfast. By offering a variety of both healthy and upscale morning dishes, c-stores can improve consumers? perception of their breakfast programs and will be better able to compete in the breakfast sector.

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