Branded vs. Proprietary Foodservice

Branded vs. Proprietary Foodservice The debate has gone on for many years–should you implement an existing branded foodservice program or are you better off developing your own unique proprietary brand?  This answer is yes to both! There is no right or wrong answer as both have their pros and cons.   Branded foodservice offers the quickest path to implementation since production processes and consumer recognition have already been established.  Proprietary brands, on the other hand, usually take longer to implement, but can be more profitable and almost impossible for your competition to mimic. Since branding foodservice and proprietary foodservice each present their own opportunities as well as challenges, below is a helpful overview to help you determine which type of foodservice program is best for you and your c-store’s operation. Building a successful foodservice business within your c-store can enhance your bottom line like no other initiative can.  High margin foodservice items can help offset loss-leading products and categories that are on the down cycle of their life.  The choice between branded or proprietary foodservice is largely dependent upon how your organization is structured from an infrastructure standpoint as well as your comfort level.  If you have the wherewithal and people-power to launch and manage a proprietary foodservice operation, your gross profit margin potential is much larger.  On the other hand, implementing a branded foodservice program at your c-store allows you to capitalize on years of brand-building and operational know-how – and still turn a handsome profit.

The blurring of lines from drug stores carrying c-store category products, to quick service restaurants offering “grab-and-go” packages, to branded foodservice operations in alternative locations such as kiosks, has forced many c-store operators to expand their foodservice offerings in order to meet the demands of their customers.  Convenience will always be paramount for c-stores, but adding a branded or proprietary foodservice operation allows you to expand your customer base and still deliver your core c-products.  There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to branded and proprietary foodservice–the important choice is selecting the best program for you.

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John Matthews

John Matthews is the president and CEO of Gray Cat Enterprises and is responsible for the management of all consulting activities for the firm, which include retail consulting for multiunit operations; interim divisional or general management leadership; consumer marketing for companies launching products in the retail sector; and strategic project management. With more than 30 years of senior-level experience and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written Game-Changing Strategies for Retailers, which is available on Amazon. In addition, he has two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing for Retailers and How to Stage a Killer Grand Opening!, which are available at

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