Consumers continue to crave bacon. The protein is dynamic since it can be offered during all dayparts through a number of food combinations from breakfast sandwiches and bacon-topped doughnuts to deli sandwiches and even tacos.
Technomic MenuMonitor data shows that bacon was the second most-menued protein on c-store breakfast sandwiches in the second quarter. In addition, bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches saw a 34.6% increase on c-store menus in the second quarter year-over-year period. Operators can attract a wider clientele by offering alternative-protein bacon like turkey or vegetarian. Flavored bacon presents another opportunity to entice customers. In July, flavored bacon on sandwiches was trending at quick-service chains including Dairy Queen, which launched a FlameThrower Cheeseburger with jalapeño bacon, and Arby’s, which rolled out Brown Sugar Bacon sandwiches with thick-cut bacon sprinkled with brown sugar.
C-stores can appeal to bacon-seeking customers by offering it as a topping on burgers and sandwiches. Technomic’s 2015 Burger Consumer Trend Report reveals that bacon stands out as a leading burger topping, with 67% of consumers reporting they would consider ordering bacon on their burgers. It is strongly preferred by both younger (63%) and older (69%) customers alike, speaking to the widespread popularity of bacon as a burger topping. During the summer, both Holiday and Sheetz launched Cowboy Burgers featuring bacon, and in July, Hot Stuff Pizza added a Bacon Cheeseburger Wrap. Offering less expensive meat toppings like bacon can help operators balance food costs while continuing to menu flavorful, even indulgent, options. BLT sandwiches are another cost-saving option that also allow opportunities for c-store operators to put their own spin on the traditional sandwich. For example, QuickChek recently debuted a Turkey Avocado BLT served on flatbread, and Dash In launched a Craveable Sandwiches Menu featuring an Egg ‘n’ BLT Bagel sandwich in July.
In addition to handhelds, bacon is also trending on pizzas. Technomic’s MenuMonitor shows a 25% increase in the number of bacon-topped pizzas offered in c-stores compared to the previous year. Along with its Bacon Cheeseburger Wrap, Hot Stuff Pizza launched a Bacon Cheeseburger Handcrafted Pizza in July. The popularity of bacon-topped pizza is influenced by consumers looking for more indulgent, crunchy toppings. Looking forward, c-store operators should experiment with new ways to use bacon since the protein remains top of mind for consumers.