A carefully thought out hot food offer has the potential to generate high levels of repeat custom for convenience stores

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a hot sausage roll to get the juices flowing which is why so many convenience stores now offer hot food to take away.
Those that do it well benefit from high levels of repeat custom. Natalie Isherwood, manager of the United Co-op store in Halebank, Widnes, says warm pies, sausage rolls and pasties are popular at lunchtimes with bacon baps selling well all morning.
Then, of course, there are the products that consumers can buy cold and take back to their office to warm up.
Michelle Gravelle, manager of Budgens in Belsize Park, North London, stocks five of the Rustlers microwaveable range in her lunchbox fixture, including its Burger, Rib in a Bun and Southern Fried Chicken. She also says soups
go down well in winter, particularly the individual portion fresh soups.
Chantal Busson, senior brand manager of Heinz Soup Cup, says there is a need for high-quality convenient snacking products to increase consumer choice beyond traditional grab-and-go options. Companies can make it easier for staff to eat nutritiously at their desks by providing microwaves, kettles and toasters.
Heinz says the sandwich and soup combination is a very popular choice at lunchtime. Around 63% of soup is consumed at lunch and Heinz research reveals that 72% of consumers who trialled Soup Cup ate it with a sandwich or bread.
As for the healthiness of the soup, Heinz has been reducing salt across its soup range since 1997 and now claims the lowest levels of salt, sugar and fat in the total soup category.
Pot Noodle, the student favourite, continues to sell well. The brand is worth £110m, with chicken & mushroom, the first-ever flavour launched, still the most popular variety.
Simon Barnett, business operations manager at manufacturer Unilever UK Foods, says 68% of consumers consider pot snacks such as Pot Noodle impulse products and buy them in the same way they buy crisps. “To make the most of their pot snacks sales, retailers should merchandise them in the same way as more traditional snacking products. So pot snacks need to be in high traffic flow areas or close to the till in smaller stores, rather than at the back, where they can be missed.”
According to recent independent location trials by Retail Merchandising Solutions, Pot Noodle sales increased by 36% when lines were placed next to crisps and snacks,without any cannibalisation.