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My Top Three Trends from NATSO’s Food and Fuel Tour

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

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NATSO’s Food and Fuel Tour offered a field-level look at metro restaurants. As a participant in the study tour, I specifically took away insights on how these innovative foodservice operators are changing how they serve their customers based on millennials.

Millennials are changing the norms of food and beverage consumption as we speak. 

Craft Brewing Business reports that 58% of the overall craft beer market is consumed by individuals 35 and younger.  Additionally, millennials try 5.1 different craft beer brands per month. This shift in millennial taste preference has resulted in craft brew retail dollar growth of 10% over previous year, as well as craft beer now owning 21.9% share in the beer market.

What does this mean for the truckstop and travel center industry?

The lesson to be learned here is that the millennial market is demanding unique foods, flavors and experiences. Millennials have the propensity to try unique and exotic flavors, as this is driving millennial consumption.

How can the truckstop and travel center industry capitalize on this booming trend?

The NATSO Food & Fuel Study Tour offered participants the opportunity to visit Chicago’s most innovative food experiences.  After visiting locations such as Eataly, Revival Food Hall, and Freshii to name a few, all of these locations had three elements in common:

  1. Fast
  2. Fresh
  3. Fun

Fast. Creating a fast and customizable ordering environment gives the customer an engaging experience when ordering food.  The ability to customize one’s order benefits the customer by creating a unique and personal taste, and also provides the vendor with a larger ring ticket by upgrades to one’s order. 

Fresh. The restaurant Freshii provides an amazing example of how “fresh” is appealing to millennials.  This restaurant provides a healthy, convenient, and quick served option for meals, which is a growing demand from millennials.  According to a study by PWC, 47% of millennials have reported increased habits of healthy eating over the previous year.  This growing trend must be capitalized in the travel center market. 

Fun. A customer is not only purchasing a product, but they are also purchasing the experience.  The locations visited on the tour offered customers a unique and fun experience.  This unique experience can range from non-traditional ordering processes, dining environment, and even additional non-food products available for purchase. At Revival Food Hall, a book and record shop is located near the coffee bar.  The more unique offerings that are made available to a customer, the more reason they have to return to your establishment. 

Photo credit: Ed Burchur, Burcher Consulting

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About the Author

Alex Munoz

Alex Munoz

Alex Munoz serves as a Category Manager and Buyer for Road Ranger Travel Centers. Previously, he managed the truck supplies and general merchandise for the company and currently manages the snack and beverage categories. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.A. in Marketing with an emphasis in Interactive Marketing. After graduating, he was recruited for an HR/Operations position for Kohl’s, which he managed for two years. He has worked for retail chains for twelve years.