Friday, April 19, 2019

Kwik Trip Targets 7-Eleven with Automation

Regular readers of this blog understand the power of partnerships when it comes to creating new food products.  Many of you have reached out to our Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® for he continues “Looking A Customer Ahead” focus had help place a product or identify, quantify, and qualify a ‘new ideation or positioning opportunity.
Kwit Trip recently built a test kitchen to increase its ability to innovate new menus items as they teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America to expand the number of healthy options available to its customers, convenience store chain Kwik Trip Inc. has been working to improve its food and beverage offerings for years now.
Check out one of its latest initiatives, the Fresh Blends smoothie program, was prompted not by focus group testing or executive brainstorming, but rather by a weeknight trip to a Target store in the middle of winter.
"I'm watching people go to Starbucks and get smoothies and frappes when it's that cold outside in Wisconsin," recalled Paul Servais, retail foodservice director at Kwik Trip. "I'm thinking this is for real — we've got to do something with this."
However, being inspired by what he saw at Starbucks didn't mean becoming Starbucks.
"In our Kwik Trip world, we like to do everything self-service," Servais said. This meant the retailer wouldn't launch a barista program just to add smoothies, but the problem was the specific self-serve technology the Kwik Trip team had in mind didn't exist yet.
Servais and his team solved this problem by teaming with Welbilt Inc., which manufactures the machine it uses today, and Beverage Innovations Inc., which creates the drink mixes. Welbilt had already worked with McDonald's on blended cup technology, but that unit involved manual positioning of the cup. Kwik Trip sought a fully automated process.
Technology can drive fresh food sales according to Johnson, Kwit Trips Fresh Blends program provides a simple process for Kwik Trip customers, who only need to use the machine's touchscreen menu to select a drink category, flavor and cup size. Then, after placing the cup in the dispenser chamber, they stand back and watch as ice and smoothie ingredients are dispensed into the cup, the shuttle moves the cup into the blending chamber, and lastly the shuttle returns the cup to the customer for them to take and enjoy.
Joe Knauss, executive chef and director of innovation at Fresh Blends North America Inc., a brand of Beverage Innovations, praises Kwik Trip for being an eager but flexible partner.
"They adopted the program before the machines were even built," Knauss said. "They let me steer the way for what their menu should be." The Fresh Blends menu features a variety of smoothies with 100 percent all-natural ingredients, real fruit and real dairy, but no artificial colors, flavors or high-fructose corn syrup. The blends are kosher certified and made in the United States.  Are you looking a customer ahead?
Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: for more information.

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