Today’s Trends in C-Store Foodservice
Q&A with Michael Williams, Corporate Chef & Director of Culinary Marketing, Unified Brands
Convenience store foodservice isn't just roller dogs and slushes anymore, is it?
Michael Williams: We're definitely in a time of change. Longtime favorites like roller grills are still popular, but market expectations require variety in those offerings as well as specialized fare. Many convenience store groups have improved their MTO (made to order) offerings, including pizza, sandwiches, wraps and salads. Another trend is the crafted beverage. Margins on specialty beverages can be much better than other areas of the store. Combine this with kiosk or app ordering and you have an aggressive time of change.
How do these new trends affect store design?
MW: The term "overhaul" comes to mind, requiring major investments in remodels or (in some cases) new stores. Studies report close to half of the consumers who visit a deli or MTO area like seeing their food prepared. In many cases, this has led to positioning of food and beverage service at high-visibility locations with self-service ordering kiosks as customers enter the store.
Flexibility is valuable for designers. What drives business today may not be relevant in a few years. Designs must be flexible to allow the spaces to evolve with trends. Adaptability to new cooking/preparation platforms and alternative operational flows in the production area are important to consider.
And what sort of effect do they have on c-store equipment?
MW: Challenges of new menu items are the cost and fragile nature of the food components. Investments in storage and preparation methods must be made to secure profitability. The new essentials are speed ovens, high-end cappuccino machines, water treatment, blenders, point-of-use refrigeration, sandwich and pizza preparation tables. Because of the increased amount of fresh items being offered, walk-in coolers and point-of-use refrigeration dedicated for foodservice items will be necessary to manage freshness and food safety.
How can Unified Brands be a valuable part of this change in the marketplace?
MW: We understand foodservice operations and what it takes to aid in customer success. For example, FX Series refrigeration leads the industry in precise refrigerated temperature management and efficiency. FX technology allows the operator to set the temp precisely at the perfect frozen or refrigerated temperature and maintain that temperature within a degree from the set point. Units can be used singly as an equipment stand or double stacked to hold a pizza oven. They can also be configured in a deep drawer for use in smoothie bars and other beverage areas.
Randell preparation tables are known for their performance, ease of cleaning and now help in space management. Dual-rail prep tables can cut floor space by half while providing the same space for
New to the c-store market is the Utility Distribution System. UDS units give operators the ability to move equipment to any position along the cook line with minimal complexity. Units have one main connection for each utility and are configured with multiple quick connections. Each utility connection has its own shut-off valve or breaker with one master shut off in case of emergency.
Some of our other products include PowerSoak Pot and Pan washing equipment, Groen cooking products and Avtec ventilation.