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It’s no surprise that consumers are demanding healthier menu options, especially as the new year gets underway. Forty percent of consumers say they are eating more healthfully than they used to, according to Technomic’s October 2013 American Express Market Briefing.
As major quick-service restaurants launch healthy menu items — like Dunkin’ Donuts’ Multigrain Flatbread and Whole Wheat Bagel, and Smoothie King’s Firm and Burn Smoothie — convenience stores must compete by offering healthful options of their own.
Many c-stores have taken advantage of consumers’ New Year’s resolutions to eat healthy by offering nutritious options. 7-Eleven Inc.’s introduction of the 180-calorie Egg White Breakfast Sandwich directly competes with the many healthy breakfast additions at quick-service restaurants, including the Egg White and Turkey Breakfast Sandwich from Jack in the Box and Tim Hortons’ Turkey Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. Also, in preparation for the new year, Holiday Stationstores partnered with Taher Inc. to develop a new foodservice program featuring healthy offerings such as a farmer’s market salad; berry, walnut and chicken salad; and snack cups in grape and cheese, celery and peanut butter, and apple and caramel varieties.
Interestingly, both 7-Eleven and Holiday Stationstores fall at the lower end of the spectrum in Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics: Convenience Stores chart on Availability of Healthy Options. Chains that are currently receiving higher scores from consumers for availability of healthy options, such as Wawa Inc. and Sheetz Inc., should beware of competitive c-stores attempting to boost their healthful options this year.
To capitalize on the healthy food trend, convenience stores must promote better-for-you choices without sacrificing flavor, convenience or quality. For operators, this may mean swapping out indulgent ingredients for lighter options, or revamping their entire foodservice platform. Because health and wellness are top of mind for today’s consumers, c-stores should consider nutrition to be a trend with staying power.