7-Eleven expands hot foods menu

by Eric Schroeder
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DALLAS — 7-Eleven, Inc., the largest convenience store chain with 7,800 stores in North America, has launched an expanded menu of hot food items at approximately 115 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The program is part of a year-long national rollout to more than 1,400 7-Eleven stores. It features the introduction of four cheese and pepperoni pizza, chicken tenders, chicken wings, breakfast sausage, egg and cheese quesadillas, and hash brown potatoes.

Prices for the products range from 79c for two hash browns to $2.99 for three chicken wings and $9.99 for a large pizza, according to the company.

"We know our customers want food that is fast, fresh, portable and available 24 hours a day," said Mike Hansen, 7-Eleven fresh foods manager responsible for the hot foods launch in the company’s Central Division. "7-Eleven now has a system that can deliver it hot and fresh, day or night."

7-Eleven said participation in the program is "by invitation only." Stores are chosen based on overall sales, specifically fresh foods and grill sales, and must have at least three certified product order writers on staff. In addition, each store must be outfitted with a high-speed TurboChef Oven that combines radiant heat, microwave and convection cooking methods. The oven allows 7-Eleven to bake an entire pizza in 90 seconds and a plate of chicken wings in less than three minutes.

"Consumers will be surprised that it cooks the food so fast and gives us a product that is hot and of the highest quality," Mr. Hansen said. "This is not just reheating a product in a microwave but, instead, actually baking a product that will turn out hot, moist and toasted or crisp."

Kathy Hasty, senior director for hot foods at 7-Eleven, said the addition of hot food items to the company’s current fresh foods program in initial test markets has provided a spark to overall prepared food sales, and in one market pizza has become the No. 3 selling item in the store.

"We want to offer hungry consumers the foods they enjoy eating every day, but make them more affordable and portable," Ms. Hasty said. "People are watching their dollars and looking for value more than ever, but they still have busy lives and need convenience. I think our new served-hot foods can help meet that need and make 7-Eleven an attractive alternative to traditional hot-food retailers."

7-Eleven in recent years actively has pursued ways in which to grow its food and beverage sales. Last year the company launched a new line of private label products under the 7-Select brand. The move included the rollout of 32 new items designed to strengthen the company’s presence in store-brand packaged foods through the launch of cookies, candy, nuts, potato chips, beef jerky, trail mix, chocolate-covered pretzels, coffee espresso beans, raisins and peanuts. The products retail at a 10% to 20% discount to national brand equivalents.

Last year 7-Eleven also added several "healthier" products to its line of "on-the-go" products, including Weight Watchers snack cakes and muffins, Larabar all-natural raw food bars, and Mega protein bars.

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