Coffee is big business for convenience store owners. According to NACS consumer survey data, more than one in five customers buy coffee when stopping at a convenience store.
Many of the larger QSR and coffee chains promote their sustainability initiatives as a way of differentiating themselves from the competition.
McDonald’s and Dunkin' sell Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees as a way of competing. The certification requires meeting a triple-bottom line sustainability standard that addresses social, economic, and environmental factors. The 57-page standard addresses biodiversity, community well-being, natural resource conservation, and sustainable agricultural requirements.
Convenience retailers also focus on the sustainability of their coffee offers:
- All Wawa coffee and espresso products brewed in-store are “100% sustainably sourced” and bear the Rainforest Alliance seal. Wawa’s core offering has been certified for about five years, but the company is only now beginning to promote it.
- Globally, 7-Eleven promotes its purchases of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee in-store and on its website. As of February 2020, 50% of its coffee was certified.
- Parker’s, based in Savannah, Georgia, manages its sustainable coffee initiative through its partnership with its coffee supplier. The retailer offers coffees with a variety of different sustainability attributes through programs with the Rainforest Alliance, the Smithsonian’s Bird Friendly coffee initiative, and other programs.
Surveys suggest that 20% of consumers who buy coffee almost always use a reusable coffee cup. Data from Starbucks suggests that the number is closer to 2.2%.
A NACS consumer survey found that a mug refill program for coffee or soda is something to consider: 65% of respondents claimed to be “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in a refill program, with younger (age 18–34) consumers more interested than older consumers.
Whether they are focused on healthy diets or environmental concerns, more and more consumers are buying plant-based meat-like products. Grocery chains and quick service restaurants recognized the trend early and began offering plant-based options alongside beef, pork and poultry. Convenience store chains such as Rutter’s, Sheetz, GetGo Café, 7-Eleven and Minit Stop, offer plant-based alternatives.