C-Store Pizza Programs Must Offer Quality and Variety

Core-Mark likes ready-to-operate pizza programs for prepared food solutions.

August 27, 2019

This article is brought to you by Core-Mark. CoreMark-(2).jpg

WESTLAKE, Texas–Pepperoni is the No. 1 pizza topping in the U.S., according to the American pizza lovers who responded to a recent survey from YouGov, an Internet-based market research firm.

When asked to name their top three pizza toppings, 52% said pepperoni, 34% chose sausage and 31% listed mushrooms. Bacon and plain/mozzarella cheese were not ignored, receiving accolades from 20% of respondents.

“Offering customers their favorite pizza toppings is important for any convenience store pizza program,” said Chris Scott, corporate director of foodservice for Core-Mark, the Texas-based provider of merchandise to the U.S. c-store industry. “But it’s also good to provide variety.”

John Owen, senior food and drink analyst for Mintel, the consumer research organization, agrees. “Continued improvements in flavor variety, quality and healthfulness will help marketers and retailers take advantage of … pizza’s unique combination of convenience and fun,” Owen said.

To satisfy pepperoni fans and attract adventurous Gen Z and millennial diners, Core-Mark launched Basilio’s, a proven, turnkey Italian-style pizza program exclusively for convenience store operators.

Because today’s consumers demand quality and freshness in the foods they eat, Basilio’s features a pizza crust that is prepared and kneaded by hand and then double proofed. The brand’s pizza sauce is a combination of California vine-ripened tomatoes and blended herbs and spices. The pie is topped with 100% real mozzarella, which allows for a longer hold time and has been enhanced with tangy Italian spices. No artificial colors or preservatives are added.

At the 76 Ford Exit convenience store in Redland, California, customers can choose Basilio’s grab-and-go pizza slices or order a large 14-inch pizza or an individual 7-inch pie.

“People actually wait for us to cook it, but it doesn’t take long,” said Lori Gordan, manager of the store. “We have an offer where customers can get a small fountain drink and two pizza slices for $5, which is big at lunchtime.”

The hot pies are equally popular at breakfast. Customers may choose from sausage and gravy pizza, “which is sort of like having biscuit and gravy, but on pizza,” Gordan said. “And we have an egg, cheese and gravy breakfast pizza. Instead of red sauce, you get gravy.”

To combat menu fatigue, Basilio’s creates limited time offers, such as a spicy chipotle pizza, chicken and bacon garlic ranch pizza and beer cheese and brats pizza. The program’s upcoming fall flavor—buffalo chicken pizza—is an ideal alternative to buffalo wings, Scott said.

To spread the word about its menu, Basilio’s provides retailers with extensive indoor and outdoor signage and various promotions, some of which can be incorporated into a retailer’s own loyalty card program.

Few convenience operators have the luxury of a full kitchen. But a prepared food program is mandatory for driving customers into the store. According to the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2018 Data, prepared food is the main platform where convenience retailers can differentiate their foodservice offering, and many have been rewarded for their investment. In 2017, the 12-months moving average of prepared food saw a 7.5% increase in sales and a 7.6% increase in gross profit dollars when indexed against January 2016. In fact, prepared food was the only foodservice category to realize both sales and gross profit dollar growth last year, making a prepared pizza program a valuable offering.

“The Basilio’s program can provide heating and holding equipment designed to produce a high-quality product in a limited space,” said Scott. “Basilio’s is simple to get into, can be executed with minimal labor and every market has a designated regional manager, who works with the store to help grow same-store sales.”

“It’s a good tasting pizza,” added Gordan, who may take a large pizza home to her family after a busy workday. “Basilio’s doesn’t skimp on the meat.”

This is the second installment of a two-part series on c-store pizza programs. Read C-Store Pizza Drives Traffic, Increases Sales published in the August 20 edition of NACS Daily.

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