It's essential you keep your chilled range fresh in every sense of the word. So stock rotation is vital to ensure that items are sold in the right date order and anything that's out of date is weeded out, but the ranging needs to be kept fresh too with new lines and limited editions stocked to add interest in the chiller.
Brands are regularly relaunched in a bid to re-engage with existing customers and attract new ones.
The Urban Eat brand was the subject of a relaunch in April. Having been initially targeted at the student market when it was launched in 2010, the brand has gone on to secure extensive listings across the convenience, contract catering and travel sectors.
Brand manager, Isla Biggin, explains: "We made a significant investment in consumer research to help us understand which elements of the Urban Eat brand were really resonating with consumers and to identify opportunities to drive further growth.
"Consumers are increasingly looking for convenient, tasty and inspirational food experiences influenced by key trends such as 'street food' and we have used that to shape new products that ensure Urban Eat really measures up in terms of choice and quality.
"The addition, at the end of May, of an extended range of savoury pastries is a case in point. We know that motorists in particular are often looking for a big, satisfying eat so we have upped the weight and meat content of some of the most popular lines to ensure they offer better value. At the same time, we are able to guarantee five days' life into store to make stock management easier for our customers."
Urban Eat now also has clear tiering levels to make it easier for forecourts to manage stock and availability. The range has four tiers: premium Posh Nosh, best sellers Legends; Core; and No Fuss for those who prefer to keep it simple.
"The new tiering has really made it far easier for outlets to ensure that they have the right mix of products on-shelf throughout all day parts to appeal to a wide range of tastes and budgets, while at the same time keeping waste to a minimum," explains Biggin.
Urban Eat has been well received at Welcome Break, according to operations manager, Anthony Fry.
"It is essential that we have the right selection of on-the-go, eat-now products and our relationship with Urban Eat has allowed us to offer the very best. The re-energised, new look appearance coupled with an extensive range of products and significant quality enhancements, really make this an exciting offer."
The Urban Eat line-up will be extended again in September with the launch of limited-edition products. "These will rotate on a regular monthly basis enabling our customers to introduce variety to their food-to-go offering with the minimum effort," explains Biggin.
The limited-edition ranges will be supported by point -of-sale material and the brand is also backed by extensive digital marketing activity, including regular Facebook promotions that have seen it establish a following of over 50,000 fans.
Meanwhile, Country Choice is the food-to-go provider of choice for many forecourt retailers.
The company's latest offer is its new-look chilled food-to-go package, which enables retailers to serve quality made-in-store filled baguettes, sandwiches, wraps, bagels and salads with minimal effort for maximum reward it says lines can offer up to 50% profit on return.
There are five levels to choose from, depending on the size of operation. Level one, for example, concentrates on equipping retailers so they can roll out the six best-selling baguettes chicken mayonnaise, chicken tikka mayonnaise, double cheese & onion, free range egg mayonnaise, tuna mayonnaise, and honey roast ham. Level two adds the non-mayonnaise based options; level three moves on to create a standard and premium sandwich operation; while level four focuses on everything needed to cover the wraps and bagels market. And level five has made-in-store salads, and includes everything down to the steel pans. But whichever package you choose, Country Choice will provide a foodservice trainer to assist staff on site, to help guarantee consistent results.
Meat snacking think Mattessons Fridge Raiders is a growth category, currently worth £165m (Nielsen). But, according to Richard Tyler, customer marketing controller, Kerry Foods, category penetration remains relatively low at 23% (Kantar data), and therefore offers a big sales opportunity for retailers.
"The foundations of chilled snacking were built in child and teen snacking, but in a short time we have shown how there is also a huge sales opportunity within adult snacking. As a result, we are seeing a whole new generation of snacks that are meeting an increasingly diverse range of adult consumer needs, covering everything from top-up grazing to full-on meal replacement.
Mattessons is the number one meat snacking brand, with Fridge Raiders now worth more than £39m and growing by 11% (Nielsen).
Double Dippers was added to the range last autumn, featuring marinated chicken breast pieces with two dips (one creamy, one crunchy). Says Tyler: "They are convenient, high in protein and with less than 190 calories per pack, Double Dippers are perfect as a more substantial snack for adults focusing on the mid-afternoon snacking occasion."
Meanwhile, cheese snacking is a significant part of the cheese category, and is currently worth £195m (Nielsen). Says Tyler: "Within that, adult cheese snacking only accounts for £12.6m yet with nearly four times more adults in the UK than children, there is clearly a significant opportunity for those brand owners who can bring exciting new products to market. That is something we are already doing through our £10m low-calorie cheese brand, LowLow.
"With more than 70% of consumers regularly missing one meal a day and 43% of consumers wanting a wider choice of healthier options in store, our healthy adult snacking offering of low calorie LowLow Cheddar, multigrain toast and a choice of three relishes is meeting the demand for convenient snacks that can be consumed anywhere."
Retailer case study
Sales of microwaveable products such as Rustlers and Zugo's Deli Café are motoring at 20 forecourts operated by Penny Petroleum across the north of England and Scotland.
Demand for the microwaveable snacks has risen sharply since the group introduced Kepak-branded microwaves to most of the sites, enabling customers to heat and eat on the move. In the first three months after the microwaves were installed, sales of Rustlers' three best-selling lines the quarter pounder, chicken sandwich and BBQ rib trebled, and average sales of microwaveable snacks across the 20 sites increased by more than 70%.
Penny Petroleum's area manager, Richard Thrower, says most microwaveable snacking products are now heated on the premises, contributing to chilled foods being one of the group's top-performing categories.
Its forecourt in Middleton, Manchester, which is open 24 hours a day, is a good example of how microwaveable snacks are driving sales.
Richard explains: "It's located close to an industrial site and lots of the customers are truck drivers or tradesmen. They want hot food with no messing and most of the microwaveable snacks are eaten in store. The microwaves have had a really positive impact and the rates of sale are really strong, so we don't have to worry about wastage."
Kepak supports Penny Petroleum and other forecourt customers with a comprehensive range of point-of-sale including shelf barkers, shelf strips, wobblers, posters and A-boards.