Food to go is increasingly important for forecourts. In this article Stuart Cufflin, transport and retail contracts manager at fuel brand Jet discusses the developments and explains a new collaboration it reckons will attract still more food-to-go fans to its independent dealers’ sites.
FORECOURTS – not traditionally somewhere customers would have high expectations of food to go. But that’s all changing as savvy forecourt operators up their game in recognition of the vast commercial opportunities that food to go and snacking present.
The findings of the Association of Convenience Store’s Forecourt Report 2016 only serve to emphasise that forecourts are becoming recognised as convenience destinations for hungry consumers. According to the report, 77% now offer cold food to go, 70% of forecourts have a coffee machine, 46% offer hot food to go, 38% have a hot food counter, 35% have an in-store bakery and 29% have a microwave for customer use. It’s a far cry from the days when you had to be content with a stale cheese sandwich and, if you were lucky, a cup of instant coffee!
So what’s changed? In short, our shopping habits have. Large weekly supermarket shopping is in decline with consumers choosing to shop more frequently and more locally. Forecourts are fast becoming ‘convenience hubs’ to buy fuel, do a top-up shop, collect online orders and grab a quick lunch with a coffee. According to Visa research the average commuter spends more than £10 a day on lunch, takeaway coffees and other food – that’s an incredible £2,500 a year on snacks. It’s easy to see why forecourt operators are keen to take maximum benefit from the trend.
Rising consumer demand for high-quality coffee on the go was behind Jet’s decision last year to join forces with Expresso Plus to introduce a coffee-to-go initiative for its independent dealer network. In July this year, Jet announced its decision to enhance this alliance and launched Snack on the Go, an exclusive coffee and food-to-go concept to help drive forecourt footfall across its UK dealer network, which includes 50 Scottish sites.
Expresso Plus is a leading provider of coffee vending machines and espresso machines, and works in partnership with brands including Lavazza, PG Tips, Nescafé and Country Choice. Together Jet’s retail services team and Expresso Plus developed the Snack on the Go concept, which is now available to all existing and new Jet sites.
The Snack on the Go display unit can be customised to fit the store’s available space (from a minimum of 1 sq m). As well as a Lavazza coffee machine, dealers can choose to add display areas for hot food, sweet treats and chilled items. Expert advice is available from Expresso Plus and Country Choice to ensure the products will appeal to each site’s customers. Display units can be branded and can be adapted at a later date if required.
With 48% of food-to-go shoppers making unplanned additional purchases, there are strong commercial arguments for enhancing a forecourt’s food-to-go offering. The growth in the food-to-go category shows no signs of slowing down so the time for forecourt operators to act is now!