More convenience stores are concentrating on providing a greater variety of fresh, high-quality foods, and competition is mounting in the $10.9 billion industry as stores strive to compete with fast-food restaurants, according to the Convenience Store Market Intelligence Report from the Technomic, Inc., research/consulting organization. Fully 57 percent of consumers say they have purchased prepared foods from convenience stores and around a third of those who visit convenience stores for fresh-food items purchase them at least once a week.

More c-stores are leveraging branded restaurants at their c-store locations, the Report notes. While Subway and McDonald's have locations built into some convenience stores, capitalizing on convenience and foot traffic, more progressive c-store chains are developing and integrating their own branded restaurants into existing stores, transforming the perception of purchasing prepared food at a convenience store.

"Prepared food is a growth opportunity for convenience stores willing to raise the bar on quality and key attributes sought by today's consumers," says Technomic Senior Director Donna Hood Crecca. "Consumers say they would visit convenience stores more often for prepared foods if those foodservice areas were improved upon. Customizing their offerings and a more appealing decor and atmosphere could enhance the experience."

Other consumer insights found in the Report include…
• 76 percent who purchase prepared foods from convenience stores report that these locations provide a convenient option;
• Two-fifths of consumers say they would visit convenience stores for prepared foods more often if freshness and quality were improved;
• Convenience stores top other types of retail locations for breakfast patronage, and convenience stores are the only segment to see a significant increase in breakfast patronage over the past few years. This is likely driven by coffee purchases.
• Entrees account for more than half of c-store menu items, with their share of the menu expanding significantly to 51 percent  in the second quarter of 2013 from 47 percent a year earlier. Sandwich remains the top breakfast entree.

To purchase or learn more about this report go to Technomic.com.