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    C-stores Trail Supermarkets, Walmart in Fresh Food Sales

    Study reveals c-stores control 12 percent of prepared food and ready-to-eat retail market.

    ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Convenience stores account for 12 percent of all retail prepared food and ready-to-eat food sales, according to Prepared Foods and Ready-to-Eat Food at Retail, a new report from Packaged Facts.

    Despite selling about one-eighth of all prepared and ready-to-eat food at retail, c-stores trail Walmart, which accounts for 15 percent of sales, and supermarkets, which hold a dominant share at 60 percent of sales.

    According to Packaged Facts, c-stores are missing out on a golden opportunity. "Most convenience store foodservice platforms…still operate under the assumption that the people buying them do not want to put health concerns first," the report stated. "…[T]his ignores the fact that millions of consumers do want to eat healthier fare -- and many might appreciate a tasty but health option just at the point when impulse and efficiency directs them to a convenience store."

    Overall, prepared food and ready-to-eat food retail sales are projected to reach $32.45 billion in 2012, a 7.5-percent increase compared to 2011, the report revealed.

    Many foods are incorporated under the prepared food and ready-to-eat food banners. Packaged Facts cited rotisserie or fried chicken, hot pizza, hot food bars with Asian-style entrees, sushi bars, deli sandwiches, and soup and salad bars as examples.

    According to the researcher, sales of these foodservice items are increasing because they are cheaper than other options, such as family restaurants, making them available to wider range of household incomes.

    One reason supermarkets have been so successful at selling prepared and ready-to-eat foods is because they integrate "neighborhood" messaging into their strategies, said David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts.

    As for specific retailers with strong prepared food and ready-to-eat food sales, Whole Foods Market Inc. was singled out in the report as being a "trendsetter in educating consumers on health food and diet."

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