Consumer Expectations Rise on C-Store Sandwiches

Over the past few years, the expectation of sandwiches in convenient stores has drastically risen. People are looking for more than just your average ham and cheese on white bread.

artisan bread

It’s a valuable aspect to your store that can win over repeat customers.

“People will make an initial purchase based on price, a promotion or perhaps a suggestion by an associate, but quality is what will ensure they become a return customer,” noted Chef Bob Derian, director of food and beverage innovation at RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. “For this reason, quality and food safety need to be at the top of the list when developing a sandwich program. This should be considered an industry best practice.”

It has become a fact that premium bread has high expectations in c-stores. Some larger retailers are empowering bakeries to formulate breads engineered to stay fresh longer by avoiding moisture absorption from the other materials used in making a sandwich, according to industry consultant Joe Chiovera

The advancements made in packaging technology are having an extreme effect on prepackaged sandwiches.

According to former 7-Eleven VP of fresh foods and dispensed beverages Paul Pierce, “Artisan breads are being used today. Varieties in cheeses, meats and spreads have all drawn greater attention to the category.”

Sandwiches are a perfect fit for the c-store industry for a few reasons, according to Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives for NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

“They can be customized for the customer, or they can be featured in the grab-and-go case. There aren’t many food items that can work that way,” said Lenard. “Sandwiches are very versatile and like any convenience store food that sells well, are very portable.”

It becomes imperative to shift the mindset of the consumers, even if the narrative has been the same for years.quality sandwich

“If you offer a unique sandwich that you can’t get from the station down the street, it gives the customer a reason to come to your store, besides the price of gas,” Lenard explained. “It also starts to shift that model from, ‘I’m going to get everything I need from the place with the best gas price’ to ‘I’m going to the place that has the food I like and oh, by the way, I’ll get my gas there as well.”

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