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International Retailers Focus on Fresh Food

Posted in: Truckstop Business, International


Last September during NATSO's International Study Tour, myself and several NATSO members traveled to Norway, France and the United Kingdom to get a unique look into best practices in the advanced European market, as well as a glimpse of the international best practices of the future. 

During the tour, we learned that international retailers are struggling with many of the same operational issues as North American operators. Attending the study tour in person is the best way to gather valuable business insights abroad, but as a distant second best, over the next several weeks I will provide readers with a virtual tour of my trip through pictures I gathered last fall.

First Up: Fresh Food
Fresh food was a focus in all three countries we visited. The fresh food programs augment and support the retailers’ grab-and-go offerings there. For the most part the programs that have been embraced are those that ‘craft’ the food—creating the perception of VERY FRESH FOOD programs. It is a lot like Starbucks and/or Panera Bread where the product arrives in a box and then is thawed and ‘crafted’ to appear fresh. Presentation is a significant portion of what they are selling.

Because operators in Norway, France and the United Kingdom focus on fresh, crafted food that supplements their grab-and-go offerings, European retailers have seen food service sales increase—north of 30 percent. If this type of food service program was embraced by our members, based on what I have observed, I am certain they would easily see a lift in sales of 30 percent or more.

See some examples I gathered:






// See more international blog posts here.

Register to Attend the 2013 Tour
I would encourage you to attend this year's International Study Tour. Held Sept. 22–27, it begins in Amsterdam with hosted retail study tours and ends in London with the ‘Future of Convenience’ conference and exhibition. For years field trips have provided hands-on experiences to make learning come to life, but the in-depth opportunities aren’t just limited to kids in school. NATSO members that attend are gaining valuable business insights by visiting some of the most innovative international retail and petroleum locations while also learning about food service and retailing techniques they can apply to their operations back in the United States. Register and learn about the conference here.


Photo Credit: Darren Schulte/NATSO


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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.