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ROCKLAND, Mass. -- Americans want healthier food options. Just ask Tedeschi Food Shops Inc., which is meeting this customer demand with the recent introduction of its "400 Calories or Less" menu.
With 25 meals and snacks to choose from that range from 50 to 400 calories each, the Rockland, Mass.-based convenience store retailer is elevating foodservice with menu options it says are "big on taste, but light on the waist."
The new menu debuted on March 7 and since then, feedback from the c-store chain's store managers and customers has been tremendous, Tedeschi's Vice President of Sales and Marketing Joe Hamza told CSNews Online.
"Our healthy food initiatives started several years ago," he explained. "It started because we saw that lifestyles were changing and people were getting healthier and more fit. So, we wanted to make sure we had the right products for our customers."
Tedeschi did have one concern, however, when it introduced its new light menu. "There is always a fear about whether the new menu will cannibalize other products within the store, but it has not been the case. We've seen organic growth since introducing the new menu," he stated.
Most notably, the executive revealed that sales are rising because new consumers are walking through Tedeschi's doors. "[For example], we've been told more women are buying sandwiches," he mentioned. "Historically, males have dominated in terms of c-store visits. We are also seeing younger people than before entering our stores and buying these products."
Items on Tedeschi's 400 Calories or Less menu cater to all dayparts. Options include:
- Two English muffin breakfast sandwiches;
- Three hearty sandwich varieties: Gourmet Turkey, Cajun Turkey and Buffalo Chicken on 12-grain wheat bread;
- Caesar, garden and pasta salads;
- Flavorful chicken and rice combinations such as Chicken Tikka Masala & Saffron and Chicken Vindaloo & Lemon Rice;
- Saag Panner, an Indian dish made with spinach and cheese;
- Four varieties of sushi rolls;
- Fresh fruit cups, and carrots and celery sticks with a dip cup; and
- Hard-boiled eggs with crackers.
According to Hamza, Tedeschi initially had more than 25 items on its 400 Calorie or Less menu, but wanted to narrow down the choices. "We wanted to come up with a number that was manageable, both on the commissary side and the store side," he added.
The retailer specifically selected 400 calories as a maximum because it represented a magic number whereby it could deliver the same taste or better vs. higher-calorie items.
"We know people are looking for flavorful foods with different spices and different sauces," Hamza said. "We were not going to just sell bland food that was low in calories. So, we looked at foodservice trends in the entire foodservice industry, saw what was working and created our own recipes."
Although Tedeschi's new menu choices have been available for two months, the chain, which operates 192 stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, will make a big push to promote its healthy foodservice offerings this summer.
Thus far, Tedeschi has promoted its 400 Calories or Less menu via social media. Once customers walk inside the store, the light fare is immediately visible.
"We market the items in what we call a fresh case. For example, we may have Greek yogurt, Naked Juice, fruit cups, the 400-calorie items and our full lineup of sandwiches and salads in the case, which is prominently displayed as soon as you walk in the door," said Hamza, noting that company President Peter Tedeschi has always stated that the concept of healthy food and convenience stores is an oxymoron.
"We need to change that [perception]," Hamza concluded. "The only way we can change that is through quality products, better merchandising and a compelling presentation. That's what we're trying to do with our fresh food."
For more on how c-store retailers are elevating foodservice, look in the May issue of Convenience Store News.