LAS VEGAS — Products hitting convenience store shelves next year tap into consumer demand for functional beverages and bold flavors. Gourmet jerky, cold-brew coffee and sour candy were among the top trending packaged food and beverage items spotted at the 2018 NACS Show, held Oct. 7-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where more than 1,300 exhibiting companies displayed the latest innovations for the convenience and fuel retailing industry.
Convenience store retailer confidence is up, fueled in part by strong sales of in-store items in the first nine months of the year, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Convenience Stores. Nearly three in four convenience retailers reported higher in-store sales over the prior-year period, while only 9% said in-store sales were lower compared to the year before.
Among the top-selling items in convenience stores are typical road trip fare — bottled soft drinks, salty snacks and candy. Today's shoppers are seeking healthier options, even at the gas station, according to NACS. New products introduced at the NACS Show by companies including Nestle USA, Mars and Tyson Foods are delivering on that proposition. For example, The Ferrara Candy Co. featured its new and improved Butterfinger candy bar with no hydrogenated oils, and Nestle USA is launching a ready-to-drink smoothie featuring plant-based protein and coffee.