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QSRs enter c-store territory with pies

Quick service restaurants (QSR) such as McDonalds and Red Rooster are entering territory traditionally dominated by the petrol and convenience (P&C) channel – pies.

According to the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) State of the Industry (SOI) report the P&C channel had a 39.8 per cent share of the on-the-go food category in 2015, with hot pastry achieving 7.7 per cent value growth.

Pies have long been a mainstay of the petrol and convenience channel, so what does the entry of QSRs into the pie market mean for convenience?

McDonald’s testing pies in ACT
McDonald’s has begun trialling pies in 25 of its stores in the ACT and New South Wales. The offer is in partnership with Sydney-based Garlo’s Pies.

In addition to supplying pies in the P&C channel, Garlo’s Pies specialise in the wholesale distribution of pies and pastries to a vast range of businesses including major supermarkets such as Coles, airlines, hotels, café’s, sports grounds, clubs and catering companies.

The pies, which C&I understands will remain branded as Garlo’s, will be available in beef and beef curry and will be served over the counter as well as at McCafes and the drive-through window.

It is understood McDonald’s pies will utilise a new recipe, with the pies slated to be made in Sydney but with the pastry to be baked on site at individual McDonald’s outlets. Success could see McDonald’s ranging pies across the nation.

On the menu at Red Rooster
Red Roster has also begun serving pies, with the launch of its Roast Chicken Pies.

The fast food chain’s new Roast Chicken Pies are available in two flavours – Roast Chicken Pie or Roast Chicken Cheese & Bacon. Customers can also stack their pies with Red Rooster’s mash, mushy peas or gravy.

Red Rooster’s pies are available for a limited time only but time will tell if they become a permanent feature on the menu.

Good for business?
Jeff Rogut, CEO of AACS, told C&I Week the move by QSRs to offer pies should be viewed by the convenience industry as a positive rather than a negative.

“Pies are obviously the flavour of the month. Pies are and always have been a very important part of the convenience offer and one which the industry has worked with suppliers to improve the variety and quality and as an industry we are able to sell as really good range competitively. To see the QSRs moving into pies too, well… as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Mr Rogut said.

“Obviously QSRs have noticed that convenience stores do a terrific job of selling pies, sausage rolls and other pastry products, and people do want to buy these on-the-go.

“As QSRs enter what has traditionally been P&C territory, it reinforces the fact that pies are a staple part of peoples’ diet as they look for quick and easy meals. If anything it will heighten the awareness of pies generally, which from a convenience industry point of view is probably a positive rather than a negative.

“Convenience stores have, over the years, expanded their range. We now have items such as sandwiches, soups, salads, fruit salads, yoghurts and so forth. So although pies are an important part of many convenience store’s range, they are a component of the overall convenience food offer.”

How should c-store respond?
“If you want to maximise your pie sales it is important to remember that it is all about freshness and maintaining the appearance that you are ‘in the pie business’,” says Mr Rogut.

“Customers don’t want to walk into a store and see one lonely pie or sausage roll sitting in the warmer.

“Maintaining a good display is not about how much is going to be wasted, it’s about the opportunity to sell a lot more pies – stores need to look as if they are serious about selling fresh, quality pies. Also make sure that you always have sauce available.

“Many stores do a terrific job with a lot of the new cabinets and pie warmers and just capitalise on the reputation that we do have in the area for delivering good quality pies at good value prices.”

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