Saturday, November 3, 2018

Convenience Store Foodservice Innovation Continues

Without doubt foodservice sales at convenience stores continue to fuel growth simultaneously disrupting customer count growth at chain restaurants according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
Once again its a story about the little guy trying harder, Rutter’s, a regional chain of 71 foodservice-forward convenience stores, was selected the 2018 Foodservice Innovator of the Year in Convenience Store News’ seventh-annual Foodservice Innovators Awards program.
Regular reader of this blog know we have covered, recommended, and lauded Rutter’s who constantly in the news with new menu offerings that are distinctive vs. the competition, while expanding its customer base.
CSNews mentioned that “among the many accomplishments the retailer is being recognized for this year are:
·         Expanding its food menu to include two local favorites: Pork Belly and Pepperoni "Roni" Rolls. Pork Belly is available as an additional topping for such items as burgers, sandwiches and mac & cheese, in addition to serving as a standalone sandwich, sub or wrap. It was initially available exclusively at Rutter’s for two months. "Roni" rolls are soft, Italian dough stuffed with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese, and topped with cheese. Like Pork Belly, it is supplied by a local manufacturer — defined as being located within a 100-mile radius of Rutter’s corporate office, or in the state of Pennsylvania.
·         Earlier this year, Rutter’s further expanded its extensive food menu by offering customers more than 25 new seafood options. Items include fried shrimp tacos, tavern battered cod sandwiches, crab cake sliders, fried scallops, a fried clams basket meal, crab and roasted corn chowder, and single, double and triple tavern battered cod Route 30 sandwiches. This offering represents the most seafood options of any convenience store operator in central Pennsylvania, according to the company.
·         Rutter’s has been investing in local, fresh and healthier product procurement. In January, the retailer promoted Cheri Booth to the new position of fresh and local category manager, reporting to Ryan Krebs, director of foodservice. Booth oversees all aspects of local, fresh procurement including produce, seasonal fruits and vegetables, foodservice, snacks, beverages, beer and wine. At the time of Booth’s promotion, Krebs stated, "Consumers increasingly want more fresh, local and clean label products. We think that deserves a dedicated person to make sure we are providing our customers with the highest-quality local products possible."
Making fresh fresher within the c-store sector, Rutter’s expanded its fresh and local initiatives with the addition of seasonal fruits and vegetables to its grab-and-go cold cases and fresh restaurant menu offerings. An assortment — which could include watermelon, blueberries, heirloom cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, and yellow and green squash, depending on the time of year — is available in the grab-and-go case in the center of its stores. The watermelon, blueberries and tomatoes come in ready-to-eat packaging for a quick and healthy snack.
Local with relevance is important and Rutter’s will change its fresh and local selection of ingredients as the growing seasons change. A “Local” icon on the retailer’s electronic build-your-own ordering kiosks identifies available offerings. The c-store chain’s grab-and-go and restaurant menu produce is sourced from family farms throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.
“Foodservice is at the core of our company. It has been since we started as a dairy back in 1921,” said Scott Hartman, Rutter’s president and CEO. “Food has been a core part of our sales and it’s ever-increasing. It drives so many other categories in our stores, from the beverages that go with foodservice to the snacks and the candy, and just the foot traffic it drives during key dayparts.” Are you expanding choice? Are you inviting new customers into your stores?  Does your menu look more like last years menu?
Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

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