McLane-NATSO launch quarterly index to track industry trends

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Hot beverage and automotive product sales along with commissary, food service, dairy and deli sales marked the three fastest-growing segments for truckstop and travel plaza convenience stores across the United States in 2010, according to a new McLane-NATSO Index.

The index, designed to illustrate market trends within the truckstop and travel plaza industry by comparing the weekly wholesale sales of supply chain provider McLane to truckstop convenience stores, found that hot dispensed beverages like coffee, cappuccino, lattes and tea jumped 34 percent in 2010 compared with a year earlier, reflecting truckstop diversification and increased sales in this product category.

“Truckstops and travel plazas are continuously diversifying their product offerings to meet the changing demands of the marketplace,” says Lisa Mullings, NATSO president and chief executive officer. “With the McLane-NATSO Index, we now have the ability to monitor trends in travel store sales so that our members can better meet their customer needs.”

The premier issue of the quarterly McLane-NATSO Index shows that sales of automotive products – including oil, additives, windshield wiper blades and anti-freeze – increased 32 percent in 2010 compared with 2009. The commissary, food service, dairy and deli category, by comparison, increased 28 percent year-over-year, reflecting an increase in private-label “grab and go” sandwiches and fewer sit-down meals among drivers.

“With the ever increasing variety of products in all categories, both branded and private-label, the McLane-NATSO Index will be a valuable tool for members to make informed decisions on the best-selling items on a national as well as a regional level,” says Steve Brady, McLane vice president of sales, convenience and military.

The index – which includes 14 category breakdowns covering such products as hot and cold dispensed drinks, health and beauty, salty snacks and candy – collects national and regional figures to allow truckstops and travel plazas to establish benchmarks for sales and growth. McLane tracks its weekly wholesale sales for more than 900 truckstop locations nationwide. The complete index report, including regional breakdowns, is circulated free to all NATSO members.

NATSO says this new index represents a cornerstone in its efforts to supply key statistical and industry reports that will provide its members, their trucking customers and suppliers insight into the size, scope and health of the truckstop and travel plaza industry. McLane is a supply chain services company that provides grocery and foodservice supply chain solutions for thousands of convenience stores, mass merchants, drug stores and military locations, as well as thousands of chain restaurants throughout the United States.