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SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- Convenience retailers representing nearly every region of the United States, as well as Canada, gathered yesterday for the 2012 Convenience Store News Foodservice Summit, presented in partnership with Tyson Foods. The event included presentations on the current state of c-store foodservice, future foodservice opportunities for c-stores and what retailers can expect in the way of food inflation, along with group discussions on dispensed beverages and prepared foods.
Representatives from some of the industry's largest chains including Alimentation Couche-Tard's Circle K unit, Wawa, Kwik Trip, Thorntons and E-Z Mart Stores shared what's working and not working for them in the foodservice category, and what initiatives and enhancements they're focusing on this year.
The 2012 CSNews Foodservice Summit was hosted by Tyson Foods at the company's state-of-the-art Discovery Center here in northwest Arkansas.
On the opportunity side, Technomic Inc.'s Matthew Mandletort urged the retailers to throw out the idea of catering to dayparts and instead concentrate on fulfilling consumers' "need states." For instance, the need state from 3 to 4 p.m. may be energy, while at 9 to 10 p.m., it might be more social eating.
Mandletort, senior program associate for Technomic's Convenience Store Practice, also said convenience retailers need to reconsider who their foodservice competition is because it's actually everyone. "Regardless of what channel you're in, everybody is looking at everybody else to see what's working," he said, noting that c-stores should particularly take notice of what's happening in the fast casual segment, which has found a sweet spot between quick-service restaurants and casual dining. "…If you're competing in foodservice, then you're competing against everyone."
On the challenges side, Tyson Foods COO Jim Lochner said retailers should expect to see inflation in the cost of the proteins they use because of declines in supply and increased feed costs. The U.S. chicken flock right now is the lowest it's been since January 1997, he noted, and the calf crop is the lowest it's been in 60 years. This will translate into higher prices this year for both chicken and beef.
"The thing with protein is we consume what we produce," he said.
Tyson is one of the world's largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork, as well as prepared foods.
Stay tuned for more Foodservice Summit coverage in future issues of Convenience Store News.