National Association for Convenience Stores

Blending convenience, novelty and flavors at NACS’ Cool New Products snack showcase

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Source: D. Ataman
Source: D. Ataman

Related tags Snacks c-stores Meat snacks Savory snacks Energy drinks

Never-before-seen alternative snacks, energy drinks and frozen packaged snacks dubuted at the National Association for Convenience Stores’ Cool New Products expo Oct. 3-6 in Atlanta, Ga.

RTD beverages and snacks are often staple categories within the c-store channel; both harbingers of convenience designed to engage consumers with familiar favorites, new flavors and captivating packaging.

In the first half of 2023, RTD beverage c-store sales grew 13.2% over the first half of 2022, per store per month,​ according to figures from NACS CSX Benchmarking Database. Salty snacks and candy saw saw significant growth in the same period with 15.4% and 17.1% growth, respectively, in sales per store per month.

According to data from Acosta Group’s​ 2023 Convenience Store Shopper Study, consumers are making their snack and meal trips to c-stores in the afternoon, with more than half purchasing snacks between lunch and dinner.

Given that most c-store shoppers are consuming their snacks on the go, brands are challenged with highlighting within seconds their best sellers through promotions and bundles, while introducing new flavors and packaging that grab consumers’ attention and align with their usage occasions. NACS’ Cool New Products section featured a variety of snack formats with flavor, packaging, format and branding in mind.

Sweet and salty, the bundled pair

Known for its c-store popularity, meat snacks offer consumers a quick, satiating and flavorful snack. Old Wisconsin’s latest flavors venture into heat featuring a blend of serrano, jalapeño and red peppers, with its Twisted Snack Sticks in Hot & Spicy, Some Stack snack pack with Pepper Jack cheese sticks.

Pear's Snacks' showcases its almond, peanut and cashews with sweet and savory flavors that complement the nuts' innate flavors. Image source: D. Ataman

Pear’s Snacks specializes in flavored nuts—almonds, peanuts and cashews—with resealable pouches printed to show texture and color in an enlarged format. The brand showcased its new savory and sweet flavors for each type of nut, including Salted Caramel Churro almonds, Peanut Butter Cup peanuts, Everything Bagel cashews, Sugar Cookie Confetti cashews and Memphis-style BBq cashews.

Sargento and Mondelez team up for bundled refrigerated snacks with the launch of Sargento’s Fun! Balanced Breaks. Each pack features Sargento’s cheeses with mini Chips Ahoy and cocoa Teddy Grahams. The sweet and savory two-packs include Sargento’s mild cheddar cheese slices paired with the Mini Chips Ahoy cookies with natural cocoa yogurt-flavored covered raisins; and the Monterey jack cheese is paired with naturally flavored mixed fruit snacks and cocoa Teddy Grahams.

Licensing the Warheads flavor for its pickle-in-a-pouch, Van Holten's debuts its Extreme Sour Dill Pickle flavor. Image source: D. Ataman
Licensing the Warheads flavor for its pickle-in-a-pouch, Van Holten's debuts its Extreme Sour Dill Pickle flavor. Image source: D. Ataman

Van Holten’s veers into the sour flavor category with licensing Impact Confections’ Warheads flavor for its sugar-free Extreme Sour Dill Pickle pickle-in-a-pouch in regular and jumbo sizes.

Functional energy drinks differentiate through ingredients, branding and flavors

With an estimated value of $22.7bn in 2023​, the energy drink market continues to evolve, merging function with increased energy for nearly every usage occasion. In a saturated and competitive category, particularly within c-store, brands rely on packaging, branding and unique ingredients and flavors to catch consumers’ attention and remain memorable.

Bucked Up's line of energy drinks feature caffeine as the main energy source across its portfolio of energy and workout beverages. Image source: D. Ataman

Combining caffeine and nootropics for potentially longer energy, mental clarity and physical endurance, Bucked Up featured its latest energy drink flavors including LFG Burn in Cherry Blast, Apple Orchard and Watermelon which contains 160 mg of caffeine and zero sugar per can. While its eponymous Bucked Up flavors include Cherry Candy, Breezy Blast and White Gummy Deer and contain zero sugar and 300mg of caffeine. The brand also showcased its Buck Shot energy shot for energy-on-the-go in Blue Raz and Cherry.

Blending adaptogens with caffeine from green tea, Gym Weed brands itself as a zero sugar, adaptogenic energy drink. The brand features its Tangerine, Watermelon and Pear Pineapple during the show in bright colored slim cans. Each zero sugar beverage is also formulated with KSM-66 ashwagandha, lion’s mane and l-theanine.

With Hispanic-inspired packaging and flavors, Hispanic-founded Patria’s energy drinks are formulated with function in mind with ingredients like biotin, folate, hydrochloride, vitamin B3 and B12 and caffeine. The brand showcased its newest citrus and fruity flavors Lima-Limón, Frambupiña, Manzana Verde, Sabor Original, Sabor Naranja and Sabor Piña. 

Paying homage to the brand's Hispanic roots, Patria features Hispanic-inspired package imagery and flavors, using a blend of vitamins and caffeine as its energy source. Image source: D. Ataman

Blurring meal and snack time with refrigerated snacks

As the line between snack and mealtime continues to blur, brands have an opportunity to tap into the category blurring in the refrigerated section by introducing familiar favorites or new formats that blend convenience with flavor and value with quality.

Kraft Heinz's Crispy Grilled Cheesies utilizes the brand's 360CRISP platform to create stove-top worthy browned and crispy toasted bread for its microwaveable sandwiches. Image source: D. Ataman

Kraft Heinz expands its Lunchables line with the launch of Crispy Grilled Cheesies with Kraft Singles. The microwavable grilled cheese sandwiches are part of Kraft Heinz’s platform 360CRISP designed to create stove-top worthy crispy and toasted bread with melted cheese in the microwave for kids.

The company also showcased its Delimex taquitos, which pays homage to the RTE c-store taquitos with its frozen packaged taquitos in bold colored packaging with more meat added. Flavors include Chicken & Cheese flour taquitos, Beef and Cheese flour taquitos, and Beef Corn taquitos, Chicken Corn taquitos.

Dible Dough's cookie dough bars offer a convenient, shelf-stable snack in classic cookie flavors to its refrigerated counterpart. Image source: D. Ataman

Dible Dough’s cookie dough bars are offered in an 8-pack of to-go bars and can be refrigerated or frozen. With classic cookie flavors, Dible Dough’s flavors include Peanut Butter with Chocolate Chips, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Snickerdoodle Churro and Sugar Cookie with Sprinkles. Each bar is 220 calories and made without eggs, artificial colors and flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. Its ingredient roster includes heat-treated flour, sugar, butter and natural flavors, among others.



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