Breakfastsponsored by: American Egg Board
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Food & Beverage
Old Player, New Competition
Remember the old convenience store where your mother used to send you for milk? And where you now stop for a coffee or candy bar while out running errands? You may have noticed the place has gotten bigger, brighter and cleaner, but you may not have put all the pieces together to see the many ways in which today’s c-stores have evolved.
Bottom line: yesterday’s convenience store offered impulse snacks and beverages along with a limited inventory of things mothers needed to replenish their staples, while today’s c-stores have transformed into The New Morning Competition.
Discussions at the 2013 Convenience Store News Foodservice Summit made it clear that although lunch and dinner are on their evolutionary radar, breakfast is the place most operators are concentrating efforts.
No need to panic - you’ll probably still be able to nab one of those endlessly rolling hot dogs as the mood hits, but c-stores are rapidly improving the quality of their morning meal offerings, which has made them a growing threat to QSR breakfast sales. And besides offering breakfast burritos, scrambled egg bowls, and even regional favorites like chipped beef with sausage gravy, many c-stores encourage diners to customize items, which is a concept QSR chains need to be watching.
The ability to customize breakfast selections has resulted in customer enthusiasm, not to mention some surprising combinations. One Summit attendee mentioned, “When you see what they will add to food, it’s just astounding.”
Chains offering opportunities for customizing include ampm (1100+ locations) offering a condiment bar and 24-flavor Fountain Oasis; Wawa (590 locations) with touch screen ordering allowing customization of breakfast wraps and sandwiches; Stripes (540 locations) allowing personal customization at a bar including salsas, pico de gallo, jalapeños, onions, cilantro, and seasonal fruit; and Sheetz (410 locations) with its made-to-order breakfast sandwiches and coffee drinks.
Some chains are also beginning to make their entire expanding menu available throughout their business hours. In late 2012 7-Eleven assembled a team of culinary and food science experts to study trends and develop new products, and announced an aggressive program of new product introductions, sampling and promotion. Convenience Store News quotes Kelley Buckley, a 7-Eleven executive: “Ours is a holistic fresh food plan, with the primary goal of building an all-day menu of delicious foods that gives hungry customers what they want morning, noon and night. That's what differentiates 7-Eleven from most prepared-food providers. At 7-Eleven, you can get a slice of pizza for breakfast or a breakfast sandwich in the middle of the night and, of course, one of our new sandwiches any time of day."
Forewarned is forearmed.
For more, visit www.AEB.org