From Fuel to Food: C-Stores Shift Focus

From Fuel to Food: C-Stores Shift Focus

From Fuel to Food: C-Stores Shift Focus 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

Shifting focus from fuel to food, convenience stores are ramping up their food service offer to stay competitive with QSR and fast-casual restaurants, as well as grocery retailers. With the development of these new food programs, two key trends are at the forefront—fresh and prepared foods, and better-for-you options. The bar is set high for c-stores to deliver what other channels offer and consumers expect. For some convenience store retailers this means a different model of business.

Kwik Trip

Wisconsin-based convenience store retailer Kwik Trip is committed to making healthier choices not only accessible but also affordable. The company has created a fresh food business strategy and even employed dietician, Erica Flint, to help keep them honest in their efforts. With a commissary delivering fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, salads and sandwiches to its 400 locations daily, Erica oversees the calculation of all of the nutritional elements of the food produced. She also serves as a critical resource for product development and negotiations with manufacturers to get the best product result possible. If there’s a way to make something healthier they’ll explore food ingredients to make it happen.

The company’s agreement with the Partnership for a Healthier America also helps to hold them accountable by fulfilling a requirement to offer foods that meet certain nutrient and affordability criteria. In alliance with the partnership they’ve implemented an EatSmart program, which provides in-store education about nutritional values as well as how to build a balanced meal. Kwik Trip hopes health-conscious consumers, in particular Millennials, will recognize its efforts to respond to consumer demands and recognize their commitments to food transparency.

Swiss Farms

Following a similar strategy, Philadelphia-based drive thru market Swiss Farms has hired Audrey Hasse, a personal training and healthy lifestyle consultant to overhaul the product offer. As a registered dietician, Hasse has curated good-for-you foods that celebrate local favorites and meet culinary guidelines including foods free of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives, hydrogenated fats and GMOs.

“Customers today are more informed than ever about the ingredients in the foods they’re buying and how food choices affect their health. That’s why Swiss Farms is committed to offering wholesome foods you feel good about eating, while supporting local businesses,” said Hasse.

To start the product evaluation process they reviewed the snack category looking for healthier alternatives that met lifestyle needs, for example high-protein options like Krave Jerky for post high-intensity workouts. Preserving an element of the brand’s nostalgia, Swiss Farms assures their customers will still be able to find their favorite little indulgences, but they’re focused on creating a healthier balance with more good-for-you foods. In addition to the expanded food offering, in the coming months they plan to roll out additional lifestyle food categories including After School Snacks, Entertaining, Finals Crash Kit, and Store to Shore.

Since 1968 Swiss Farms has served its customer’s on-the-go needs; this new food focus is an evolution of their model helping to meet consumer demands for a healthier future.

Takeaway: Understanding consumer food and lifestyle trends will be critical to execute a competitive food retail program, and change perceptions about the current day convenience store food offering. As prices at the pump continue to dip, consumers will have incentive to spend more in-store, make sure you have what they’re looking for. The core convenience store consumer visits daily with 70% of them typically shopping the same location each time.* Providing them with healthy on-the-go options could secure you a loyal customer.


A collection of insights research and observations across retail, restaurant, c-store and grocery. Helping brands provide a better experience for their customers. Enjoy.

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