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CHICAGO -- Consumers are constantly on-the-go these days and as a result, they prefer that restaurants offer quick and convenient meal and snack options that won't slow them down. However, one foodservice option that is widely ignored by hungry shoppers is the convenience store.
While c-stores position themselves as the ultimate destination for convenience, new Mintel research found that 33 percent of consumers who have never purchased food at a convenience store haven't done so because they believe the food is of low quality.
"When consumers think of convenience stores, food quality isn't the first thing that comes to mind," stated Eric Giandelone, director of foodservice research at Mintel. "Improved quality -- not just for products but for service, location and marketing communications -- is needed to bring in or bring back consumers for whom c-stores aren't top-of-mind choices."
Of those who don't purchase processed food at convenience stores, 64 percent said they never or rarely consider purchasing food from a c-store. Meanwhile, 32 percent said the food was not appealing to them, and 26 percent cited high prices as a deterrent. Thirty-five percent reported that there were better food options nearby.
"Convenience stores are always going to face competition from restaurants, especially fast-food establishments," Giandelone said. "Luckily, convenience store foodservice suffered less than restaurants did during the recession, and we forecast this $22.8 million dollar industry to experience 4.1 percent growth in 2011."
So what foods are consumers purchasing when they visit convenience stores? It seems c-stores are most popular for their beverage options. Fifty-eight percent of consumers said they purchase fountain beverages, 52 percent purchase coffee drinks and 44 percent purchase "slushies" or other frozen beverages, according to the research findings.
When it comes to consumers who purchase c-store food -- hot dogs (38 percent) and pizza (33 percent) are the most popular choices. Additionally, 28 percent go for made-to-order sandwiches, while 26 percent grab nachos and a quarter of shoppers opt for chicken wings or tenders.