LAS VEGAS—Foodservice is the key to capturing a bigger share of your customers’ wallets, according to some of the foremost experts around the world who shared their experiences during Sunday’s packed education session, “Global Foodservice Trends and Menus.”

“Customers fuel their cars one time a week, but they fuel their bodies three times a day,” said Frank Gleeson, president and CEO for Aramark Northern Europe. “Customers want to buy food and beverages, and if you create the opportunity for them, you will win.”

In Northern Europe, the current focus is on high-end artisan food and cracking the take-home market, Gleeson said. Because of the pace of technology, you have to move quickly if you want to keep up—much less stay ahead. He advises others wanting to become or stay relevant in foodservice to focus on technology, flexibility and evolution.

“Technology is moving so fast, it’s really about the pace of that change,” he said. “Everyone has raised their game because of the competitive market. The evolution has to move all the time. You cannot sit still. The store today won’t succeed in the future.”

In South Africa, the food focus is all about a diverse range of products. Joe Boyle, managing director for FreshStop South Africa, describes the country as one of extremes. Extreme rich and poor, hot and cold, friendly and violent.

FreshStop stores offer a large variety of foodservice in a small space to give customers what they want. From fried and grilled chicken to sausage and salmon, these APCs account for 30-35% participation in the food area.

Boyle said even stores with little space can enter the foodservice market.

“Look at appetite and space, and start with one APC and then build it up,” he said. “Make it as easy as possible by using products that are 90% prepared before coming to the store.”

Central American c-stores offer typical food products such as pizza, subs and hamburgers, but they also offer traditional local products from independent producers, said Pablo Andonie, president and CEO of AMPM Centro America.

“Each country has different products and typical traditional things, so we offer items that appeal to that market. Diversity is the key word,” Andonie said.

In Georgia, Saba Jishiashvili, COO of Sun Petroleum (Gulf) Georgia, created a market for hotdogs—a completely new food for that region. That market skyrocketed from selling 500 hotdogs per day to 30,000 per day now.

Mark Wohltmann, NACS global director, moderated Sunday’s panel and noted that he remembers when foodservice at c-stores was just a concept.

“In the early ’90s, our industry was talking a lot about foodservice as an idea. Now, 30 years later, here we are in a packed room talking about real foodservice.”

Also in this issue from NACS Show Daily