C-stores have been stepping up their foodservice offerings in recent years, increasing the competitive pressure on the quick-service segment in particular. And now 7-Eleven may be adding even more pressure with a new line of fresh food.

According to the New York Times, the convenience store chain has been introducing food such as yogurt parfaits and turkey sandwiches throughout the past year. The chain is hoping to have 20 percent of its sales come from the fresh food lineup by 2015.

Although 7-Eleven has been selling food since the 1990s, the company just recently put together a culinary team to develop new products. Previously, c-stores relied on suppliers to provide foodservice innovation.

7-Eleven's new senior director of fresh food innovation, Anne Readhimer, joined the company in May from Yum! Brands, parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

"We're working to create a portfolio of fresh foods," Readhimer said in the story. "Some will be for snacking, some for a quick meal, but we hope everything we offer our guests is convenient and tasty."

According to new research from Technomic, foodservice is a key area of opportunity for convenience stores. As revenues from gasoline and tobacco products fall, foodservice sales are increasingly becoming convenience stores' most profitable category.

C-store foodservice is an $11 billion industry and the second largest retail host foodservice category behind supermarkets. The c-store segment comprises about 29 percent of retail foodservice and almost 2 percent of the total foodservice industry. Technomic projects that c-store foodservice will grow nominally by 2.5 percent over each of the next two years.

"Convenience stores have shifted their focus to provide a wider variety of fresh, high-quality food offerings to help gain a greater share of stomach and compete with restaurants," said Tim Powell, director of Research and Consulting Service at Technomic. "At the same time, there seems to be significant room for convenience-store operators to generate increased foodservice sales by translating existing traffic into purchases."

Read more about health and nutrition.

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