Protein Power

by: Meline Beach

Road trippers, commuters, students, and on-the-clock workers can fulfill their craving for protein-rich foods at their local convenience store. I’m not talking about the kind of protein you shake and sip or peel back the wrapper, but the fast, freshly prepared hot protein that you bite-your-teeth-into kind.

More c-stores are gaining ground in the ready-to-eat (RTE)/made-to-order (MTO) foodservice market by offering their own food items prepared on site – further blurring the boundaries between traditional c-stores, grocery stores, and quick serve restaurants (QSRs). Their speedy service, convenient location and targeted selection gives them a competitive advantage over others.

Fresh meat volume sales, in particular, are forecasted to grow 7.5 per cent in Canada from 2017-2022.

 “The demand for fried chicken products is on the rise,” says Culpepper who cites breaded chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets and chicken strips as the fastest growing menu items in C&G foodservice in the US. “As a result, we’re exploring various product extensions like our Honey Stung Boneless Wings, BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, and Red Hot Sauced Tenders.”

While it may be easier to partner with a brand foodservice provider, c-store owners with their own foodservice program have the potential to turn a profit at the two-year mark once initial investments are covered. Junction Jubilee is a prime example. With a full-service kitchen in his c-store, Habib believes his foodservice program has the potential to surpass his traditional c-store product sales.

Whether you work with a brand or go independent with your foodservice program, Culpepper stresses the importance of partnering with a provider who can deliver a food product that is high in demand and has broad appeal, but also with one who can provide great on-going support to drive traffic and increase profitability.

“The one thing I would want to stress is that you don’t want to make the investment in foodservice if you’re renting the business,” says Habib, who is looking to expand his food service offering based on its growth and success over the years. “You want to own it and keep the profits.”

With investments in quality foodservice programs that include a variety of protein-based items, catered to the likes of target customers, and the industry trend that we’re on, there is little doubt that c-stores can be selling just as good, if not better, foodservice items than QSRs.

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