In the most recent Convenience Store News Forecast Study, released last month, convenience store retailers overwhelmingly said foodservice, particularly prepared food, will be the No. 1 category driver for growth and innovation in the channel in 2023.
Seventy percent of retailers surveyed said they expect prepared food to be their highest dollar growth category this year. Another foodservice category, dispensed beverages, was cited by 50 percent of c-store retailers as being their expected highest dollar growth category in 2023.
Even smaller c-store chains (with 20 stores or less) see prepared food as key to their growth this year. Sixty-five percent of small operators surveyed are anticipating an increase in their prepared food dollar sales per store this year.
In line with the dollar volume expectations, c-store retailers big and small are projecting they will add more SKUs and more square footage to their foodservice areas in 2023.
All of this comes as little surprise to us. CSNews has been touting the importance of foodservice at convenience stores for years. We are proud to have helped numerous c-store retailers achieve their foodservice growth goals through our reporting on best practices and trends, interactive events like our Convenience Foodservice Exchange, community networking groups like our Convenience Foodservice Alliance, and our one-of-a-kind Foodservice Innovators Awards program that recognizes innovation in convenience foodservice each year.
I think we've proven that a distinctive, high-quality foodservice program is a must-have for a successful convenience store. In fact, foodservice should be the centerpiece of the business. It provides your store with an identity and should be the most profitable part of your business.
If you haven't already made foodservice the crown jewel of your store, or even if you have but want to take your foodservice to the next level, this appears to be the year to do it. Many retailers have already lifted their programs to near best-in-class status.
Many of the most advanced convenience foodservice retailers continue to evolve their offerings to meet the more demanding needs of their customers. And, according to the CSNews Forecast Study, the overwhelming majority of c-store retailers will be looking to up their foodservice game in 2023.
You can get a head start on your competition by attending the 2023 Convenience Foodservice Exchange (CFX) event this spring. I invite you to join us in Nashville, Tenn., on May 4-5 for two days of education, collaboration, networking, problem-solving, unique food experiences and store tours as we explore how to elevate your foodservice program to be the centerpiece of your business. Contact me if you're interested in attending.