For years, bakers have supplied frozen dough, par-baked products and desserts to in-store bakeries and delis. During the past few years, gas stations and c-stores have become the hot market as they expand and upgrade their food service offerings to provide greater grab-and-go meals and snacks for a mobile world. It’s easy to see why.
Food service categories offer the fastest growth for c-stores, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (N.A.C.S.). In fact, food service garners more than 29% of in-store product dollars, according to the N.A.C.S. 2013 state-of-the industry survey. The top quarter of those surveyed experienced 35% to 40% in sales, according to the report, and bakers and snack manufacturers are responding in a big way as c-stores try to compete with the Starbucks and McDonald’s of the world.
Tom Marcucci, vice-president of marketing for Schaumburg, Ill.-based Gonnella Baking, described the evolution of c-stores emerging from a convergence of channels as gas stations now house a c-store — and in some cases a branded quick-service restaurant or sub shop — in the building behind the pumps. Gone are the two auto repair bays for lube jobs and maintenance.“It’s become a much more sophisticated operation addressing all of the needs across the day,” Mr. Marcucci said. “They’re trying to give consumers what they want and when they want it.”