By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey | February 28, 2024

Hot dogs and sausages boost roller grill sales at c-stores, but customers also enjoy new flavors and seasonings.

As roller grills beef up offerings with innovative flavors and trendy toppings, they have the opportunity to be an integral part of c-store foodservice programs in 2024.

York, Pa.-based Rutter’s has a roller grill in every one of its 85 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia, featuring a wide array of products, said Philip Santini, senior director of advertising and food service for Rutter’s.

Among the stores’ roller grill items are hot dogs, egg rolls, sausages, chicken roller bites and tornados. Santini pointed out that the company is “always looking at new options with different flavors, seasonings and combinations as they are introduced.”

Looking at the year going forward, Santini stated, “I believe there is a chance to broaden the range of flavors available, and we see an opportunity in allowing our guests to customize their items.”

He anticipates that the category will at least maintain its current level, but with the introduction of new products and flavors, he believes that Rutter’s “can observe an increase” in sales over the coming months.

The appeal, he said, is that roller grill items are “versatile, quick, convenient and affordable.” For the retailers, the grills provide consistent cooking that helps maintain the quality of and expectations for the products.

While lunch is the peak daypart for roller grill sales, the category is popular in all dayparts, Santini pointed out.

Hot Dogs and Sausages

Hot dogs and sausages are two of the roller grill’s most popular items. Total hot dog sales rang in at $2.99 billion and 896 million pounds, reflecting slight decreases (0.1% and 1.2% respectively) in 2023 over 2022. Total dinner sausage sales increased a bit (0.2%) to $5.3 billion and decreased 0.2% in pounds to 1.2 billion, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

“Americans love hot dogs and sausages as delicious staples that offer affordable protein and many other nutrients in their diet,” said Eric Mittenthal, president of the Council. “Even with more products of all types offering protein available on the market, hot dog and sausage sales remain strong as families continue enjoying the products they’ve loved for generations.”

New products, Mittenthal reported, are mostly brand favorites reformulated with a reduced fat content or increased protein content. In the last few years, new products in flavors such as honey and brown sugar, barbecue, Cajun, spicy, and teriyaki have been introduced. A consumer survey last year revealed that 60% of consumers (mostly older) preferred all-beef hot dogs, while younger consumers preferred hot dogs made from other proteins such as pork and chicken.

Source: CStore Decisions