The c-store industry, once an afterthought for nutrition, has reinvented itself into a go-to destination for fitness and health.

The SSCS blog team, for almost a decade, has scoured the internet for c-store-related content. We’ve seen a steady trend over that time: c-stores, through their own efforts and effective branding, are more identified with healthy lifestyle choices than ever.

It hit us the first time we saw this article about FamilyMart, a c-store in Japan, that added health and fitness centers to some of its locations. That’s about as good a symbol as you can get for robust glow that’s come to surround the industry.

In markets where it makes sense, c-stores can engage customers in search of the active lifestyle. It can be something as essential as electrolyte replenisher Gatorade—now in more flavors than ever!— but it can be a lot more, too, though here are a few more drinks for good measure.

The parallel movement to Foodservice contributes, too, given how many options lend themselves to such offerings as fresh hot items, salad bars, and Kombucha on tap. The emphasis is a practical one: it is helping the c-store compete in other restaurant channels. CStoreDecisions’ 2022 Foodservice Report provides additional arguments that the trend is here to stay.

The fresh food movement is also flexible enough to piggyback onto another concurrent industry trend, “to-go” options as explored in this recent study by Nielsen. Again, the key is finding the fit that works for the individual c-store, and that’s as true as anything for healthy options.

One last aspect of the movement to fresh resonates a little differently than the rest. Throughout the country exist areas called “food deserts” that are under severe economic stress and unable to provide sufficient access to fresh and healthy food for the citizens that live there.

Recently there have been increasing numbers of cases where c-stores have stepped up to the plate in food deserts to become a key source for nutrition. This study from Illinois Tech about the c-store’s beneficial impacts in the Chicago area provides an example. Here’s another story about a c-store option in rural Minnesota. And a short piece on how a well-rounded c-store is expected to change the nutritional resources of those that reside on tribal lands.

When you think about it, the industry’s transformation from being considered a food desert itself in past decades, to becoming a force in eliminating them is a stunning transformation. Developments like this speak to its dynamic and flexible nature of the industry, and its long-term outlook for success. SSCS looks forward to providing the technology to make help make this success happen, now and in the future.