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Mondelēz International acquires ‘well-being’ snacking company

Hu_ChocolateMondelēz International has acquired Hu Master Holdings, the parent company of Hu Products, which offers high-quality snacks, such as vegan chocolate bars, made from simple ingredients.

Mondelēz made a minority investment in Hu in  2019 through its innovations arm, SnackFutures. As part of the deal, it had  a right of first offer to acquire the U.S. company.

Hu comes from the phrase “Get Back to Human” and encapsulates the ethos behind the  purpose-led lifestyle brand with a devoted fan base. Founded in 2012 as a family business by Jason H. Karp and siblings Jordan Brown and Jessica (Brown) Karp, Hu started out as Hu Kitchen, a high-end restaurant and market in New York City that focused on foods with simple, real ingredients. The company went on to expand its award-winning vegan and paleo-friendly chocolate bars, becoming a category leader in premium chocolate in the United States, and, according to a press release, “one of the fastest-growing confectionery brands in the natural channel.”

Recently, Hu broadened its offerings to include premium, grain-free crackers and begun scaling its distribution across the U.S.

“Hu is a strong strategic complement to our snacking portfolio in North America,” Glen Walter, EVP & president, Mondelēz International North America, said in a statement. “This well-being brand platform provides further growth opportunities in chocolate, cross-category potential in crackers, as well as meaningful opportunities to expand distribution including in eCommerce and premium conventional retail. We’ve been very impressed with the Hu management team as a minority investor and look forward to working with Jordan Brown and Mark Ramadan and the rest of the Hu team to provide support and resources for the brand’s next chapter of growth.”

“Jordan, Jessica and I started Hu Kitchen because there was a need to trust and understand every ingredient in our food,” said Karp. “Eight years ago, we felt there was a need for delicious food that could change how you feel and compliment a healthier lifestyle. Mondelēz International has been our minority partner for almost two years, and we are excited to fully join their family of brands because we believe their resources, strengths and progressive vision can help us accelerate positive change within snacking and grow the Hu platform in a bigger and broader way.”

Joining other fast-growing premium and well-being snack brands, including Tate’s and Perfect Snacks, Hu will be part of the North American Ventures business model, but Mondelēz will operate is as a “separate business to nurture its entrepreneurial spirit and maintain the authenticity of the brand and culture, while providing resources to help accelerate Hu’s growth. Hu will continue to produce all products at current manufacturing facilities.”

Hu senior leadership will receive a contingent payment based on future performance of the company. In 2019, Hu hired experienced entrepreneur Mark Ramadan, co-founder and former CEO of Sir Kensington’s, as CEO. During Ramadan’s tenure he has focused on enhancing the purpose and values of the company and set the pathway for continued sales growth.

The acquisition closed on January 4, 2021. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Mondelēz International operates in more than 150 countries around the world and its portfolio includes, OREO, belVita and LU biscuits; Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka and Toblerone chocolate; Sour Patch Kids candy and Trident gum.


Tim Horton launches new dark roast as part of chain’s plan to get back to basics

Unknown-2Tim Hortons is hoping the third time’s a charm as it rolls out its latest iteration of a dark roast coffee this week, a key part of the chain’s back-to-basics plan that will focus on its core offerings of coffee, doughnuts and breakfast in 2021.

It’s a strategy industry watchers say will help Tim Hortons shore up its existing market share while potentially attracting new customers in the increasingly competitive realm of grab-and-go breakfast.

The fast-food eatery is also overhauling its breakfast sandwich by adding fresh eggs and naturally smoked bacon, while promising to remove artificial colours, flavours and preservatives from all its menu items by the end of the year.

Yet observers say perfecting the dark roast coffee is the most important part of the chain’s menu improvements.

“The breakfast market has been competitive for many years and having the right dark roast coffee is key,” says Cyrus Cooper, a professor of restaurant management at Centennial College.

“Tim Hortons needs to ensure its dark roast is competitive in flavour profile to win over customers from competitors like Starbucks and McDonalds.”

The restaurant launched its first dark roast in 2014 in a bid to offer customers an alternative to its classic blend. Three years later, the chain tweaked the recipe of its new roast to make it even darker.

While the head of the chain’s coffee operations says it delivered on smoothness and flavour, he says it could be bolder.

“What we’ve noticed over the years is that guests are looking for a slightly bolder coffee,” says Kevin West, director of coffee operations for Tim Hortons.

The challenge, he says, was developing a bolder, fuller, richer coffee without any bitterness or burnt taste that can turn coffee drinkers off a dark roast.

“Coffee is naturally bitter, so to develop a coffee product that’s bold and strong without bitterness is quite difficult,” West said.

The coffee team at Tim Hortons developed the latest dark roast from scratch. They settled on a unique blend that features premium Arabica beans from the Indonesian island of Sumatra, in addition to the beans from Guatemala, Colombia and Brazil used in the chain’s original coffee.

“We started with amazing green beans,” he says. “Then we had to really hone in on the manufacturing and roasting process and also how we brew it.”

It took nearly four dozen coffee trials and 200 cuppings – the process of tasting the coffee – before the team landed on the new dark roast, West says.

The final tweak was a one degree increase in the temperature of the water in the coffee brewer, he says.

“It’s just a slight change but it made a significant difference in how the coffee performed with the final finished product,” West says.

The result is a flavour that is more complex than the previous two dark roasts, he says, with notes of chocolate and cedar and a hint of fruit or floral undertones.

“It’s a bolder, fuller and richer coffee,” West says.

Tim Hortons parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. has seen its revenues slip during the pandemic, as COVID-19 disrupts daily rituals like going to work and taking kids to hockey.

Cooper says even post-COVID, competition for drive-thru customers will be fierce as some workers may only go to the office a few times a week.

But he says focusing on “bread and butter” basics like coffee, doughnuts and breakfast will help solidify the chain’s base of customers like commuters and hockey parents.

“Tims has realized which sandbox they’re playing in,” Cooper said. “Rather than lose touch with their customers and get too complicated, they’re focused on staying within their sandbox and knocking it out of the park.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.



Industry reacts to Health Canada’s proposed vaping regulations



While the Convenience industry agrees with Health Canada’s mandate to reduce youth vaping, Ottawa’s new proposed vaping regulations aimed at reducing the level of nicotine in vapour products will stand in the way of adult smokers looking to quit, while putting unrealistic expectation on c-store operators.

In a statement, Imperial Tobaccos said the proposal “will severely hinder the federal government’s ability to reach its stated objective of reducing the smoking rate in Canada to less than 5%  by 2035.”

Health Canada announced Friday it is proposing to lower the maximum nicotine concentration allowed for vaping products that are manufactured or imported for sale in Canada to 20 mg/ml. The current limit is 66 mg/ml, which would remain the maximum concentration allowed for any vaping products intended for export markets. The new rules would forbid the sale of any vaping product if the nicotine concentration listed on the packaging is higher than the new limit.

“Health Canada recognizes the concept of offering reduced risk products as a way to reduce exposure to the harmful chemicals caused by smoking. In addition, it recognizes vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking,” said Eric Gagnon, VP of corporate and regulatory affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada. “It is unfortunate that the government is considering a measure that will hinder vaping products from reaching their full potential as a less harmful alternative to smoking.”

The Convenience Industry Council of Canada agreed, calling Ottawa’s proposal “misguided,” and said that the move will push adult users back to tobacco, or to the illegal online market. Also, adult smokers considering transition will be discouraged: CICC member sales data shows that more than 80% of convenience store customers purchase the higher nicotine content product when beginning the transition to vape.

“Canada’s convenience stores are the primary destination for adult smokers looking to make a switch to a reduced risk product,” says CICC president and CEO Anne Kothawala. “Our sales data shows that smokers require sufficient nicotine concentration in order to successfully transition. Offering our customers this choice and encouraging them to make the switch is in line with Health Canada’s stated public health objective of reducing smoking rates.”

Imperial Tobacco says the government acknowledges this risk when it states, “it is anticipated that the vaping industry would experience the loss of sales to adult customers who choose to discontinue using vaping products rather than transition to vaping products that contain 20 mg/mL nicotine or below.”

While it could be debated whether or not the current cap of 66 mg/ml is appropriate, said Gagnon, “he proposed 20 mg/ml is too low and will not satisfy a portion of current Canadian vapers nor smokers seeking a less harmful alternative. It is hard to understand why the government would enact a policy measure knowing full well it will drive up the number of smokers in Canada.”

Nicotine caps will not solve the youth vaping issue, adds Kothawala. “We support the government’s goal of addressing youth vaping and are proud that our channel has a proven track record of retailing age-restricted products. Convenience stores are not the problem. Reducing youth vaping requires a multi-faceted approach that clamps down on the unregulated online market and provides for stiffer penalties for any retailers selling to minors. This policy will make it more likely that youth will access higher nicotine vaping products through illegal online markets.”

In addition, she says the the proposed implementation date of 15 days is “simply unworkable” for our retailers. “Previous implementation timelines have been months long – not days – which allow convenience stores to become compliant. This will impose significant costs on our industry at a time when businesses are struggling with both the economic and health impacts of COVID-19. Government has already acknowledged these challenges earlier this year when they provided a six-month extension to previous vape regulations and should apply the same approach in this case. We are calling on the government to reconsider their decision to limit nicotine concentrations and to increase the implementation period for retailers.”

The government says it is also thinking about added regulatory measures that would restrict flavours in vaping products, and make the industry give more information about their products, including details on sales, ingredients and research and development.

-With files from The Canadian Press



Health Canada proposes reducing nicotine concentration limit in vaping products



The federal government says it wants to reduce the amount of nicotine allowed in vaping products as part of greater efforts to curb their appeal to young Canadians.

Health Canada announced Friday it is proposing to lower the maximum nicotine concentration allowed for vaping products that are manufactured or imported for sale in Canada to 20 mg/ml. The current limit is 66 mg/ml, which would remain the maximum concentration allowed for any vaping products intended for export markets.

The new rules would forbid the sale of any vaping product if the nicotine concentration listed on the packaging is higher than the new limit.

“Our work to protect Canadians from the harms of vaping products continues,” federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement announcing the move.

“These changes will help reduce the appeal of vaping products to youth.”

The department is launching a 75-day public consultation Saturday on the proposed new regulations, seeking feedback from all Canadians. The consultation will end March 4.

The government says it is also thinking about added regulatory measures that would restrict flavours in vaping products, and make the industry give more information about their products, including details on sales, ingredients and research and development.

The Canadian Cancer Society welcomed the move, saying British Columbia, Nova Scotia and the European Union have already limited nicotine concentration on vaping products to 20 mg/ml, while Quebec has announced its intention to do so. Meanwhile, some products currently sold here contain nearly triple that amount.

“The high rate of youth vaping is of fundamental concern and provides the necessary rationale for the new regulations,” Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, said in a statement Friday.

“High nicotine levels have contributed to a new generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes,” he said.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada echoed that message and pushed for more.

“We also urge Health Canada to move quickly on other important measures to address the youth vaping crisis including comprehensively restricting flavours and increasing taxation,” said Dr. Andrew Pipe, chair of the board.

The Canadian vaping industry trade association said the lower nicotine limit would make adult smokers who are using cigarettes and other tobacco products considered more harmful than vaping products, less likely to switch.

“Considering the disparity of harm between vaping and smoking, we don’t understand why the federal government would be using Health Canada resources during a global pandemic to explore making it harder for adult smokers to switch to a reduced risk product,” Daniel David, president of VITA of Canada, said in a statement Friday.

Anne Kothawala, president and CEO of the Convenience Industry Council of Canada, made a similar argument, adding the government’s proposal to have the rules come into force 15 days after the final version is published is too short a timeline.

“Previous implementation timelines have been months long _ not days _ which allow convenience stores to become compliant,” she said in a statement.

“This will impose significant costs on our industry at a time when businesses are struggling with both the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.”



Legal tobacco sales spiked during COVID-19 restrictions: Study

cigarette-1642232_1920-1024x783A new study is highlighting the extent of the illegal cigarette market in Canada and the cost to provincial treasuries in foregone tax revenue.

The new study, conducted for the Convenience Industry Council of Canada (CICC) by Ernst & Young LLP (EY), provides solid data and evidence regarding something many already suspected: A direct link between the closure of tobacco manufacturing operations and smoke shops on First Nations reserves, and an increase in legal tobacco sales at the c-store level.

“This study proves what we have been saying for a long time: the contraband problem is significant and governments must act now,” Anne Kothawala, president & CEO of CICC, said in a statement.

The report shows temporary closure and travel restrictions related to First Nations communities at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March was followed by a gradual, sustained uptick in legal cigarette sales across Canada.

Data collected from retailers shows that legal cigarette sales peaked in June 2020, representing a 24% increase over sales in this same period of time in 2019. According to the report, when on- reserve stores and cigarette factories re-opened in July, legal sales plummeted back down to pre- pandemic levels.

The increase in legal sales during the shutdown was most dramatic in Atlantic Canada. Legal cigarette sales in June 2020 were up 44.9% in New Brunswick, 47% in PEI and 44.3% in Newfoundland and Labrador, compared to June 2019. The study indicates that the closure of the Atlantic border was a one of the factors restricting the movement of illegal tobacco traffickers.

The temporary shift in the cigarette trade had noticeable impacts on provincial treasuries. According to the report, “In the month of June alone, the increased sales in the stores studied brought an additional $50 million in tax revenue to provinces ($32M) and the federal government ($18M). Ontario and Quebec saw revenues increase by $6.3M and $6.7M, respectively, while in New Brunswick the province took in an extra $5.1M in June.”

A number of alternative explanations and factors for an increase in legal sales – including seasonality of sales, price or tax decreases, cross border travel implications and an increased prevalence in smoking during this period were evaluated and eliminated by the authors of the study as a rationale for explaining these increases, according to the CICC.

“Gauging the size of the unlicensed cigarette market in Canada has historically been difficult. But major manufacturing and distribution shutdowns in response to COVID-19, demonstrated a significant change in sales,” Fred O’Riordan, EY Canada’s Tax Policy Leader and the lead author of the report, said in a statement. “As supplies of contraband dried up, smokers who typically purchased tobacco products illegally had instead to buy legal, duty-paid cigarettes. As a result, we were able to measure significant windfalls to provincial treasuries.”

“In turn, this study demonstrates that provinces stand to gain tens of millions of dollars a month —and hundreds of millions of dollars a year — by cracking down on the illegal distribution and sale of contraband tobacco,” added O’Riordan.

The CICC is calling on all orders of government to act on the report’s findings by:

  • Committing to no new tax increases for tobacco products until steps are taken to bring illegal tobacco under control, as the price differential between legal and illegal tobacco products is a major driver of the contraband market.
  • Empowering law enforcement with the resources and incentives to pursue illegal tobacco manufacturers, sellers and smugglers.
  • Working with Indigenous councils to apply a levy to non-Indigenous purchasers of tobacco products.
  • In Ontario, follow in Quebec’s footsteps by increasing enforcement and investing resources into the province’s Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Unit to tackle this growing challenge.

“As we emerge from this once-in-a-lifetime shock to our economy, governments must look at all options to pick up lost revenue,” said Kothawala. “Enhanced enforcement would cost a fraction of the total annual tax loss in Canada. Provincial treasuries will know the extent of it. In Ontario alone, per annum losses have been estimated to be $750 million. Left unchecked, contraband networks have economic consequences for both law-abiding retailers like convenience stores but also for governments, to say nothing of the major consequences on public health and safety.”

The study evaluates sales data from members of the CICC, the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council and legal production and excise revenue data provided by the Canada Revenue Agency. Click here to read the full study.



Quebec to ban vaping flavours and restrict nicotine content



Quebec intends to ban the sale of flavoured vaping cartridges and limit nicotine content in an effort to stem an increase in youth vaping in the province.

A recent report from the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control found that a third (32%) of high school students consume tobacco products or its by-products

“With the growing popularity of vaporization products, especially among young people, it becomes imperative to act to prevent a new generation from becoming addicted to nicotine because of these products,” Health Minister Christian Dubé said December 9, 2020 in a statement.

According the Montreal Gazette, “in 2015, Quebec banned the sale of flavoured tobacco products and saw a reduction in the number of high-schoolers smoking such products within 30 days. Similar action should be taken with regard to vaping, the public health researchers recommended.”

With that in mind, the plan is to ban the sale of flavoured vaping products and limit nicotine concentration to 20 mg/mL (a cigarette contains about eight mg of nicotine).

The Vaping Industry Trade Association (VITA) urged the government to continue to allow the sale of flavoured vaping products in order to service ex-smokers who might otherwise return to cigarettes.


Legal cigarette sales up in Atlantic provinces following COVID border closure: study

Ccentral_eNews_tobaccoThe Convenience Industry Council of Canada says the border closure between Quebec and New Brunswick may have helped choke off the illegal tobacco trade in Atlantic Canada.

An Ernst & Young report conducted for the CICC says the so-called Atlantic bubble erected to limit the spread of COVID-19 could explain why legal cigarette sales jumped in the region.

READ: Legal tobacco sales spiked during COVID-19 restrictions: Study

“We’ve always known (illegal sales were) a big problem in Ontario and Quebec, but I think what this really showed was you had another factor for Atlantic Canada, which was, essentially, the closure of the border,” council president Anne Kothawala said in an interview Monday.

READ: The ups and downs of tobacco

While the sale of legal cigarettes rose more than 20% across Canada in the period studied, the highest increase was seen in the Atlantic provinces, the study found.

Comparing figures from June 2020 to those in June 2019, Prince Edward Island saw a 47% increase in legal cigarette sales, while New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador both saw increases of more than 44%.

The study published Monday found legal sales in Nova Scotia were 21% higher in June than a year earlier.

The report says that before the COVID-19 pandemic, little was known about the extent of the illegal cigarette market in the Atlantic provinces.

Atlantic travel restrictions may have prevented or discouraged carriers from making trips into the region to supply underground sale networks, the study says.

Since tobacco taxes are much lower in Quebec, traffickers have been known to use New Brunswick as the gateway for illegal cigarette trade into the Atlantic provinces, allowing contraband to trickle through to Nova Scotia and P.E.I., Kothawala said.

She said her organization decided to embark on the study after some of its members reported an uptick in legal sales.

She suspects the effects of the border closure between New Brunswick and Quebec will linger until the end of the year and retailers will continue to see higher rates of legal cigarette purchases in the region.


OLG gives operators a major incentive to promote new Plinko game



Retailers in Ontario will earn 30% sales commission for every pack of $5 Plinko tickets activated from January 4 to March 31, 2021. This is an increase of 22% over the regular commission of 8%.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation says the move is a way to “thank all our retailers and support you for your hard work through this challenging time due to the pandemic.”
It’s also a strategy to drive customer awareness and sales growth of this new lottery game, which launches in the new year.

Retailers will earn $105 per pack activated vs $28 based on regular commission of 8%: The promotion is slated to last three months.

This fall, the Ontario Convenience Stores Association petitioned the provincial government to recognize and reward the key role that c-store operators play in driving revenue for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation by increasing lottery commissions across the board by 2%.

As the cost of doing business for c-stores continues to increase—not to mention the added financial and related challenges brought on by the pandemicthe OCSA argues that this is an ideal opportunity for the province to support the channel and small business owners. 

  • C-stores account for 76% of Ontario lottery sales for OLG.
  • During the pandemic, this increased to 85%.
  • C-stores facilitate $2.4 billion in lottery sales every year for the province.
  • C-stores earn 5% on standard electronic tickets and 8% on scratch tickets.
  • The margins are slim, but the value for c-stores is in generating foot traffic.
  • OLG requires retailers to apply for a terminal at their own expense: The cost takes many months to recover.
  • As more customers pay with credit cards, c-stores are being hit with transaction fees of 2 to 2.5% on lottery purchases, further reducing margins.
  • Lottery commissions haven’t increased in more than 30 years.
  • OCSA is suggesting a 2% increase in commissions.
  • An additional 2% at point of sale for lottery equals about $5,000 per store.
  • This would inject an estimated $30 million into the convenience channel.

In a statement to members, OSCA president Dave Bryans pointed out this if the first time the OLG has moved off of commission standards: “We are hoping this will lead to additional promotions or increased commissions for the entire channel allowing for a better business future for all.”

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C-store IQ: Foodservice Report

Hungry for opportunity  

Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 7.40.19 PMWhile the pandemic continues to disrupt and redefine the foodservice space, it continues to be an important focus area for convenience operators across the country. Of the 46% of c-store shoppers who purchased grab and go or menu items, 50% were extremely or very satisfied with their purchase, according to proprietary data from Convenience Store News Canada’s C-store IQ: A National Shopper Study

C-store IQ is the first convenience and gas specific study that delves into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of Canadian convenience consumers.

More than 1,000 Canadians 18+ participated in the study, which shows that 43% of shoppers visit chain convenience stores and 38% visit independently owned convenience stores at least once a week. In turn, 70% of convenience store shoppers typically shop the same store each time and, when considering the convenience store they shop most often, quality of food is among the top three reasons it’s their store of choice.

The average number of times that shoppers purchase prepared food at a convenience store is 1.48 in a month (some shoppers say they purchase prepared food as many as 45 times in a month!). Millennials (1.78) and Gen X (1.82) average more purchases of prepared food compared to boomers (1.02). 

Half the shoppers were extremely or very satisfied with their purchase, while only 5% were not very or not at all satisfied. 

Of the 54% who did not purchase prepared food, the majority say they simply didn’t plan to buy food or they weren’t hungry, however 38% say they prefer to not purchase prepared food at a convenience store, while 29% say it’s too expensive. Millennials (23%) are more likely than Baby Boomers (14%) to say the food did not look appetizing.

When are shoppers eating?

Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 7.43.18 PMMore than 60% of purchases are occurring between 11 a.m. till 7 p.m., but seem to slow down during the day between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Of note, males (11%) are more likely than females (6%) to purchase food items in the morning hours between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.


What are shoppers craving?

Traditional convenience store items remain the most popular prepared foods purchased: 

24% deli/sandwiches

19% hot dog

18% fresh baked goods 

16% pizza


Research shows grab-and-go/refrigerated items are the most popular for 49% of shoppers, followed by made-to-order (31%). Millennials (59%) are more likely than Gen X (39%) to have purchased grab-and-go foods. 

Prepared foods are generally purchased with one at least one additional item, with only 13% of shoppers saying that they only purchased prepared food. Apart from purchasing consumables, such as hot beverages (23%) and bottled water (19%) with prepared food, more than one in three shoppers purchase lottery tickets (34%). 

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  •     Females are more likely than males to purchase a hot beverage (27% vs. 18%), candy/gum (19% vs. 16%), milk (18% vs. 14%) and packaged salty snack (17% vs. 13%).
  •     Millennials are more likely than boomers to purchase candy/gum (24% vs. 10%), bottled/canned soda (19% vs. 12%), and cold fountain/dispensed pop/drink (17% vs. 11%). 
  •     Boomers are more likely than millennials to purchase lottery tickets (42% vs. 23%) and hot beverages (28% vs. 19%).
  •     Self-defined health-conscious shoppers are more likely than non-health-conscious shoppers to purchase bottled water (23% vs. 13%), milk (22% vs. 9%) and coffee/tea/hot beverages (26% vs. 17%).


What’s important to foodservice customers? 

While hygiene and sanitization practices are a priority, price (47%), freshness (42%), food quality (42%) and taste (41%) also lead the way in importance for prepared food purchases at a convenience store. 

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  •     Females (46%) are more likely to rate taste as being highly important compared to males (35%). 
  •     Boomers (54%) are more likely than millennials (37%) and Gen X (38%) to rate freshness as highly important.  
  •     Boomers (50%) and Gen X (45%) are more likely to rate food quality as being highly important, compared to millennials (31%). 
  •     Gen X (46%) is more likely to rate taste as being highly important compared to millennials (34%). 
  •     Health-conscious shoppers (46%) are more likely to rate freshness as highly important compared to non-health-conscious shoppers (36%). 
  •     Health-conscious shoppers (14%) are more likely to rate customer service as highly important compared to non-health-conscious shoppers (9%). 

 Assessing the competition

Nearly 60% of hungry shoppers say they are most likely to purchase from a fast food restaurant if they do not purchase from a convenience store, while 17% would prepare and eat food at home and 9% would purchase prepared food/takeout from a grocery/supermarket. 

Of note, prepared foods at fast food (42%) and casual dining (41%) outlets are perceived by close to half of shoppers as being ‘better’ than those at convenience stores. There’s definitely an opportunity to change that! However, almost half the shoppers feel that prepared food items at fast food (46%) are similar to convenience store. 


Key takeaways

A sizable proportion of shoppers are highly satisfied with their prepared food purchase from a c-store, but there remains plenty of room for improvement. Given that price, freshness and food quality are top factors while purchasing prepared foods from a c-store, meeting and exceeding expectations in these areas are likely to give convenience operators the edge over fast food, fast casual and casual dining outlets. 

The pandemic continues to wreck havoc on traditional foodservice, however, as c-store foodservice is eaten almost exclusively offsite and purchased in conjunction with other products, the convenience industry is well-positioned to steal market share and meet the needs of hungry shoppers seeking quick and flavourful takeout options.  




Ontario makes changes to liquor rules, allows permanent delivery of alcohol with food



Ontario will allow restaurants to permanently sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery as it makes changes to support the industry through the pandemic.

The province announced the change Wednesday night along with other relief measures.

Attorney General Doug Downey says the changes are meant to support the sector that has struggled with shutdowns and regulatory changes during COVID-19.

Other permanent changes include nixing a licensing requirement for third-party delivery services and reducing the price of spirits consumed on-site.

Licensed operators may also serve alcohol on docked boats under the new rules, and alcoholic drinks can be included in delivered food boxes and meal kits.

The province will also allow alcohol manufacturers to deliver their own products and to sell spirits and wine at farmers markets.

No word, yet, on when beer and wine will also be available in convenience stores.