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NATIONAL REPORT — Convenience store foodservice operators that aim to become snack-occasion leaders should consider this five-point action plan offered by Maurice Minno, principal of MPM Consulting Group and member of the Convenience Store News How To Crew.
Step One. Study each of your competitors, including operators outside the convenience channel, and understand what is on trend in terms of fresh food snack products, ingredients and flavors. Operators worth visiting include Starbucks to assess and sample their snack offering.
Two other retailers worthy of a benchmarking visit are Trader Joe’s and Target. While Trader Joe’s does not have warm fresh snacks, they are expanding their chilled case to include a range of ethnic and healthy-oriented, grab-and-go products such as Trader Joe’s Middle East Feast (hummus, tabouli, falafel, pita bread and tahini); and Trader Joe’s Squash & Quinoa, Country Italian and Southwest Salads.
Meanwhile, Target is expanding the range and depth of its grab-and-go fresh food offer, including fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon and papaya spears in clear plastic cups and On-The-Go Boxes that include a variety of snacks such as nuts, deli meats, cheeses, eggs, crackers, chocolate, etc.
Step Two. Assess your distribution supply chain capabilities to accommodate a more dynamic fresh-food snack offering. Take appropriate steps to update your supply chain.
Step Three. Study how your customers navigate through and shop in your stores and adjust your merchandising accordingly. Evaluate your current hot and chilled food display equipment and the location of these displays in relation to how your customers use your stores.
Maximize the impulse presence of your chilled and hot food snack offers, while leveraging appropriate associated product displays for bundled product purchases.
Step Four. Innovate your menu with an emphasis on the use of fresh and on-trend product ingredients to include ambient, chilled and hot snacks — either prepared to order or as grab-and-go.
Step Five. Rethink, refresh and innovate your fresh-food snack offer’s packaging, display case graphics, signage and promotional messaging to make it “come alive” and prompt impulse purchases. Provide appropriate key messages via the labeling on products (i.e., organic, Fair Trade, all-natural, gluten free, etc.).
“In all that you do to refresh your fresh-food snack menu, ‘walk the talk’ and show your customers that your offer is fresh, innovative, in tune with today’s trends and in line with what they crave,” Minno concluded.
Editor's note: Check out the May issue of Convenience Store News for our full report on the most successful menu offerings for the snacking daypart, including special tips for beginner, intermediate and advanced operators. A digital edition of the issue can be accessed by clicking here.