With the high cost of gas and other rising prices, consumers are looking for affordable snacks to treat themselves without breaking the bank. Providing such value-added snacks also can bolster traffic and sales at convenience stores.

“When your pocketbook is tight and life is stressful, coming in for those little indulgences like ice cream and bakery products becomes a more frequent occurrence for our customers,” said Chuck Kronyak, retail category manager for United Dairy Farmers (UDF), a regional c-store chain based in Cincinnati.

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) has found that people who pay with cash tend to purchase less gas per visit.

“One of the things we have seen is the gallons sold has decreased by a gallon or two depending on the site. That is because of high gas prices,” explained Jeff Lenard, vice president, strategic industry initiatives for NACS. “That pressure is particularly significant when you pay by cash.”

He added roughly 20% of gas transactions are cash. When doing so, people tend to plunk down one or two $20 bills instead of filling their tank up.

“That $40 doesn’t go so far so they come back more frequently,” he said. “They may be buying the same amount of gas per week, but they’re coming in more often.”

To encourage in-store shopping, Mr. Lenard suggested offering value-added products or promotions.

“It is tough out there for some customers,” he said. “You have to acknowledge that and find ways to stand out when money might be tight.”

With UDF’s U-Drive Plus card, consumers can purchase a six pack of donuts for $6 instead of $6.99, Mr. Kronyak said. The chain also offers a Double Donut, which is two glazed donuts joined together in the center, for $2.49, which is cheaper than buying two donuts separately.

Recently the company added a Cookies ‘N Cream Donut glazed with white icing and Oreo cookie crumbles on top. UDF makes donuts, cookies, brownies and other packaged and fresh sweet goods delivered up to seven days a week from its Cincinnati bakery, which opened in 2019.

“For some people, one donut is simply not enough. You’ve got to have two,” he said. “We want to offer a good portion size and a high-quality ingredient product.”

Mr. Kronyak said consumers also want bigger breakfast sandwiches and more indulgent products.

“Hot food is growing faster than bakery, but from a smaller base,” he observed. “Grab-and-go products are a hot trend for our guests.”

This article is an excerpt from the November 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Convenience Stores, click here.