Foodservice market researcherTechnomicsaid it conducted the industry's first look at the prepared food commissaries serving in-store supermarket delis and convenience stores.

The Chicago firm said commissaries have become more popular -- and required -- as these growing channels look to increase their overall foodservice sales and meet consumer demand for fresh, prepared foods.

"Commissaries are a great option for c-stores and supermarkets largely because they can outsource the food preparation function to someone else," said Tim Powell, a Technomic director of research and consulting. "As these channels have explored new avenues of growth, foodservice has shown that margins can sometimes be three times as high as other in-store categories."

In recent years, supermarkets and c-stores have looked to foodservice for expansion and have been growing faster than the overall foodservice industry rate, making them attractive targets for suppliers to the industry.

Other pertinent findings include:

-- Commissary growth over the next three years will exceed both c-store and supermarket growth.

-- Cold deli sandwiches, burritos and pizza account for the largest shipments from commissaries to c-stores.

-- The largest volume categories going to supermarkets are fully-cooked meats, prepared salads, pizza and cold deli sandwiches.

Technomic said it developed a framework for suppliers to determine the best way to select and identify commissaries relevant to a trading partner's business. The study also focuses on supermarket and c-store operator opinions as well as commissary attitudes and needs from suppliers.