Convenience stores have been strengthening their foodservice programs and it appears their efforts are paying off. A new report by foodservice consultantTechnomic, Chicago, finds that this segment nominally grew by 1.5 percent in 2009. The leaders by U.S. total convenience store count were 7-Eleven, Circle K and APlus Mini-Mart.

“Convenience stores are investing in prepared foods, which is putting increased competitive pressure on quick-service restaurant chains,” says Darren Tristano, an executive vice president at Technomic.

Examples of upgraded foodservice offerings and facilities include:

--7-Elevenbegan offering takeaway pizzas at more than 1,100 units last fall. The whole pizzas, available in pepperoni and four-cheese varieties, are ready to go within a few minutes of ordering. Slices are also available.

--Cumberland Farms'new foodservice-focused concept store employs a fresh decor with light wood cabinetry and soothing accent lighting. The new format includes a complete all-day prepared foods island with breakfast sandwiches, baked goods and pastries; a variety of to-go salads, fruit cups and yogurt; and a wide selection of sandwiches. New hot items include toasted flatbread sandwiches and pizzas.
--Turkey Hill Minit Mart’snew grab-and-go food program called Wholesome @ Home includes a new line of prepared foods such as cobb salad, chicken-salad croissant, Oriental chicken, shepherd’s pie and a fruit tray with yogurt dip, as a healthier alternative to takeaway fare from quick-service restaurants.

Technomic says its "2010 Technomic Leading Convenience Stores Foodservice Report" covers the leading convenience store brands by unit count totals, economic impact, new product offerings, programs and facilities, quick-service brands in convenience stores, marketing and promotions and the convenience store consumer.