Why You Should Take a Fresh Look at Popcorn

Make your in-store traffic pop by preparing this salty snack in front of your customers.

September 19, 2023

This article is brought to you by Gold Medal Products Co.


Salty snacks is a category not to be taken lightly at c-stores. Last year, salty snacks was the only category that had unit increases among the top six in-store merchandise categories, according to the NACS State of the Industry Report® of 2022 Data. Within the category, ready-to-eat popcorn was one of the two subcategories that experienced the largest growth inside the store.

According to Adam Browning, president, Gold Medal Products Co., a food equipment manufacturer and distributor that offers popcorn vending machines, freshly popped popcorn is an in-store traffic driver that has some major profit potential.

“Fresh popcorn is definitely an attraction,” he said. “It's a novelty item to have a popcorn vending machine in a convenience store because it's offering customers an appealing option, and retailers can see up to 85% gross margins on popcorn made in-store.”

According to Gold Medal, typical prepackaged product margins are much lower than the margins Gold Medal’s freshly made popcorn delivers.

NACS Convenience Voices data shows that nearly 27% of snackers chose a salty snack because the product looked appetizing, which is where freshly made popcorn is a differentiator among consumers. Popcorn that is popped in the store is a sensory experience for customers, explains Browning.

“Freshly popped popcorn engages all five senses: Customers can smell and hear the popcorn being made; they can see the popcorn filling the machine; and they can touch and taste the salty snack,” he said. “By engaging their senses, you are engaging the customer.”

Convenience Voices data found that packaged and cold dispensed beverages are most often purchased alongside salty snacks. A leading convenience retailer that uses Gold Medal’s machines in its stores positions the popcorn right next to its soda fountains to drive even more profit.

“Fresh popcorn and beverages complement each other and deliver an even higher profit potential,” Browning said.

Gold Medal offers popcorn machines that are specifically designed for c-stores, such as its ReadyPop® Commercial Popcorn Popper, which combines the power of a popcorn machine with the convenience of a self-serve dispenser in one compact unit. All of Gold Medal’s product lines for c-stores can be found in the company’s e-book “The Snack Factor.”

This is the first installment of a two-part NACS Daily series on how freshly popped popcorn is a profit generator and traffic driver. Learn more about Gold Medal Products Co.