Offering fast food at petrol stations is not only an opportunity for market operators to generate additional income but also a guarantee of customer flow. In other words, the range and quality of coffee drinks, sandwiches, and hot dogs determine how much fuel a station can sell. Global experience shows that petrol station chains with a firm offer of ready-to-eat food and related products have the highest sales of petroleum products. There are two ways for a petrol station operator to develop a catering business: create its own concept and brand from scratch and develop it, or engage a partner who is already well-known among customers. AMIC ENERGY follows two parallel paths: in Ukraine, it develops its own food range, and in Poland, it actively cooperates with famous brands.
Hot dog is at the top
Both Ukrainians and Poles prefer nourishing food, and hot dogs are the best-selling fast food in both Ukraine and Poland, AMIC ENERGY told NaftoRynok. In Ukraine, the company is developing its own FoodPoint fast food range
«The flagship in the fast food category is hot dogs, which are represented in the chain by 5 types of sausages and two types of buns», says AMIC Ukraine, noting that beef and chicken burgers are in second place in popularity. However, not far behind them in the sales ranking are exclusive items from the company's new menu.
Hot dogs account for 54% of total fast food sales at AMIC ENERGY filling stations in Ukraine. The selection of hot dogs at AMIC ENERGY filling stations is currently quite wide: with milk sausage, smoked sausage, blue cheese, and cranberry (smoked sausage with cranberry pieces). All these hot dogs are available in a white or dark bun. In the summer, the company expanded its hot dog range by adding an XL with Bavarian sausage. The share of the XL hot dog in sales is growing dynamically, the company adds.
The vast majority of AMIC ENERGY customers choose hot dogs with a light wheat bun. The percentage of hot dogs consumed on a dark bun in the chain is 25%, while the rest of the customers (75%) prefer white.
The structure of hot dog sales at AMIC ENERGY filling stations in Ukraine is evenly distributed: Ukrainian hot dogs account for 22% of sales, French hot dogs - 28%, and cranberry and blue cheese – 20% each.
Demand for hot dogs remains high throughout the year. "There are no noticeable seasonal fluctuations in percentage terms, there are fluctuations in absolute units, and this depends on the number of customers at the petrol station, the movement of people between regions, etc.", says AMIC Ukraine, noting that there are no particular differences in the sales structure between regions. The number of units sold depends on the number of receipts at the petrol station and the location of the outlet, the company adds.
We are currently planning to update the range of hot dogs, so in the near future, our customers will have the opportunity to try a combination of new flavors of their favorite product.
The second most popular fast food product is the burger. Burgers account for 20% of fast food sales at AMIC ENERGY filling stations in Ukraine. As any food gets boring over time, customers need to be constantly surprised by new flavors. AMIC Ukraine said that in the spring they updated the recipes of the already familiar burgers by adding new ingredients - fresh vegetables and herbs. «Our Beef Bacon burger now contains bacon, tomato, and herbs. And the Chicken Cheeseburger now comes with a juicy chicken cutlet and double cheese», AMIC Ukraine said.
Another important issue is the supply of fresh herbs for burgers and other dishes. To prevent salads and herbs from becoming wilted, it is necessary to ensure optimal storage conditions and to set up logistics. «Together with the supplier, we have done a lot of work to ship the freshest products, reducing the delivery time from production to the filling station to one day», says AMIC ENERGY. The company added that the greens are stored at petrol stations in cold rooms and refrigerators at the temperature required for the products. At the same time, temperature measurements are taken several times a day to ensure product freshness.
Every spring, AMIC ENERGY in Ukraine introduces new items to its ready-made food menu. This year, the company updated the menu at its petrol stations entirely. The launch of the updated fresh menu took place in April. “We took into account that an increasing percentage of Ukrainians prefer a healthy diet, so this spring, when updating the menu, we added healthier dishes such as fresh rolls with tuna and salad, chicken and salad, Nicoise and Caesar salads," AMIC Ukraine said, adding that with the expansion of the fast-food range, the company started to attract new customers, resulting in the increase of sales of the most popular products, including hot dogs.
Moreover, this year AMIC ENERGY added exclusive products to its menu: beef and vegetable telera and focaccia with ham and salad. For breakfast, there’s a perfect option of club sandwiches with chicken or ham and bacon.
In March, they also added cinnabons to the pastry menu, which replaced croissants and pies. "This product immediately became popular among our customers," noted AMIC.
The supplier of buns for hot dogs, burgers, sweet pastries, telera and focaccia bread are well-known companies in Ukraine and Lithuania.
As for hot dog sausages, AMIC ENERGY did not disclose the names of the manufacturers. The company noted that collaborates with two suppliers. "All meat products we use are produced in Ukraine at certified facilities and are well-known among consumers," said AMIC Ukraine, adding that sausages are made in accordance with a unique recipe and order.
The company revealed that the meals from the updated fresh menu are available at over than half of the AMIC ENERGY network stations in Ukraine, at 104 petrol stations to be precise.
Overall, over a third of visitors already follow a habit of buying meals at AMIC ENERGY gas stations. As the company revealed, over 33% of customers buy products from the café group. Loyalty program participants are given 3% off the menu, while other items in the store are only at a 1% discount.
At the speed of Light
The speed of food preparation is one of the most important factors in the fast-food industry. According to the company, at AMIC ENERGY gas stations, a hot dog is prepared in 2 minutes, and a burger in 10 minutes, emphasizing that finishing a burger takes only 2–3 minutes though.
«We have carefully planned the cooking patterns and algorithms to minimize the waiting time for customers. We worked out a simplified time-saving system for product preparation», they said at AMIC Ukraine.
We receive the buns and sausages for making hot dogs in a fully cooked state, but in deep freeze, which allows us to preserve all the flavor properties and guarantees product safety.” This simplifies the process of storing and cooking hot dogs as much as possible.
Fresh ingredients are received at the gas stations directly from trusted and reliable suppliers, while other ingredients come in frozen. «We prepare fresh burgers and other fresh products right at gas stations in the quantity that meets the demand. It allows ensuring our products are fresh and safe», AMIC ENERGY explained. The products are stored in special gastronomic display cases. When ordered by a customer, the outlet staff heats and dispenses the product according to technological instructions, the company added.
Training and Technology
Preserving top-quality products and maintaining a high speed of operations requires investment in equipment and staff training, along with careful supervision of compliance to well-established standards. AMIC ENERGY says they pay special attention to staff training. «We take a responsible and thorough approach to this process. Our specialists prepared training materials and all technical documentation for the introduction of the products," the company says. «Then they visited each filling station of the chain and trained the staff on storage, preparation, cooking and sales of products while maintaining all the technology. We are currently monitoring compliance both online and offline».
«We rely on fast-food equipment from some of the best manufacturers for preparing our products: grills, convection ovens, and steam convection ovens. Top-quality equipment, in particular, allows us to accomplish high-quality production», AMIC Ukraine said.
Interestingly enough, alongside coffee and hot dogs, one of the most demanded products at gas stations is water. Certain Ukrainian gas station networks have already launched the sale of bottled water under their own brand. A similar move is currently under the radar at AMIC ENERGY:
«We work thoroughly with all the major suppliers of the sparkling and soda water in Ukraine. Currently, we are in the process of choosing a supplier to produce water under our own brand, so we expect it to appear in the network in the near future».
Pizza – Next in Line?
Some Ukrainian gas retailers have launched freshly baked pizza at gas stations. AMIC Ukraine confirms they receive lots of requests for this product, along with offers from suppliers. However, the decision on the pizza launch is still to be made. "This is a complex meal to cook at gas stations. It requires additional equipment and specialized training sessions. For now, we are looking for potential solutions to the demand. If we fix all the necessary questions for the launch, pizza will definitely become available at gas stations. Yet you shouldn’t expect it earlier than next year," the company confessed to NaftoRynok. AMIC ENERGY added that they could not yet guarantee the appearance of pizza at the filling stations, but assured that new products would be added to the fresh menu next spring.
Meanwhile, AMIC Polska chose to work with franchises when choosing a fast food development strategy. Both burger joints and pizzerias are already operating there. Read more about this in the next article of NaftoRynok.