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    C-stores Are the It Place for Grab-and-Go Snacks

    Research shows consumers are more likely to eat between-meal items while traveling or in a car.

    CHICAGO – Every day, 28 million people in the United States eat a grab-and-go snack, and those buy-and-eat-within-an-hour items are 50 percent more likely to be eaten while traveling or in a car, making convenience stores a primary source for them, according to new research from The NPD Group.

    C-stores represent five times their fair share when it comes to grab-and-go snacking occasions, ahead of both grocery stores and discount stores.

    NPD's SnackTrack, which tracks daily snack food consumption in the U.S., finds that grab-and-go snacks represent 12 percent of all snack-oriented convenience foods, and that consumers typically eat them between meals rather than use them to replace meals. This on-the-go snacking typically occurs during the morning or midday, and least often in the evening. Young adults aged 18 to 24 are most inclined to act upon the instant gratification that these snacks offer, according to SnackTrack.

    Consumers also choose a sweet grab-and-go snack twice as often as a salty snack. Chocolate candy/candy bars, gum, doughnuts, potato chips and chewy candy are among the items most frequently consumed. Consumers also drink a beverage with their snack 61 percent of the time, most frequently carbonated soft drinks or water.

    "Grab-and-go snacking represents a sizable opportunity, and manufacturers and retailers can capture a larger share of this 'buy and consume' behavior by understanding the consumer dynamics that drive these purchases," said Darren Seifer, NPD's food and beverage industry analyst.

    Manufacturers need to incorporate grab-and-go snacking as part of their go-to-market strategy, particularly when developing plans for the convenience channel, he said. Retailers should consider rotating the types of items stocked near the entrance or checkout to align with grab-and-go snackers' needs by time of day.

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