US shoppers shun c-stores’ food service options, finds Mintel

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Convenience stores position themselves as the ultimate destination for convenience but new Mintel research found 33% of consumers have never purchased food at a convenience store because they believe the food is of low quality.

“When consumers think of convenience stores, food quality isn’t the first thing that comes to mind,” said Eric Giandelone, director of foodservice research at Mintel. “Improved quality – not just for products but for service, location and marketing communications – is needed to bring in or bring back consumers for whom c-stores aren’t top-of-mind choices.”

Of those who don’t purchase processed food at convenience stores, 64% said they never or rarely consider purchasing food from a c-store. Meanwhile, 32% say the food was not appealing to them and 26% cite high prices as a deterrent. Thirty-five percent reported there were better food options nearby.

“Convenience stores are always going to face competition from restaurants, especially fast food establishments,” said Giandelone. “Luckily, convenience store food service suffered less than restaurants did during the recession and we forecast this $22.8m industry to experience 4.1% growth in 2011.”

Of the products shoppers do purchase from c-stores, beverages are the most popular. Fifty-eight percent of consumers say they purchase fountain beverages, 52% purchase coffee drinks and 44% purchase slushies or other frozen beverages.

When it comes to consumers who purchase c-store food – hot dogs (38%) and pizza (33%) are the most popular choices. Additionally, 28% go for made-to-order sandwiches, 26% grab nachos and a quarter of shoppers opt for chicken wings or tenders.