How To’s

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How This Salty Snack Can Make Profits Pop

popcorn vending machine sitting in convivence store

Retailers can see up to 85% gross margins on freshly popped popcorn

Ready-to-eat popcorn is poised to become an $18 billion global market by 2031, according to Allied Market Research, so how can convenience stores best take advantage of this rapidly expanding market? Popcorn popped in-store may be the answer.

“Freshly made popcorn is a differentiator for convenience stores because it’s a sensory experience for the customer, which is a huge engagement factor,” said Adam Browning, president, Gold Medal Products Co., a food equipment manufacturer and distributor that offers popcorn vending machines. Additionally, retailers can see up to 85% gross margins on fresh popcorn, he noted.

Exploring Popcorn Vending Machines in C-Stores

Gold Medal offers three machines that are ideal for retailers, including convenience stores.

The first is its ReadyPop® Popper, which is a 16-ounce commercial popcorn machine plus self-serve station, all in one. The cabinet can pop and hold up to 20 gallons of popcorn, yet the compact footprint of the machine can easily fit into most c-store locations. The machine includes a crisping system, cup dispenser and lid holder, as well as an LED-lighted sign and cabinet, and it even has the option to be equipped with the Nayax programmable payment system and can be branded with custom graphics. It is available as a countertop unit or on a base with an overflow bin that helps to ease any cleanup concerns.

For smaller stores, Gold Medal offers its ReadyPop® Jr. machine with an eight-ounce popper and dispenser. This option holds 11 gallons of popcorn and includes a self-serve dispenser.

“Our ReadyPop machines are the simplest way to offer freshly made popcorn, and they require minimal labor,” Browning said. “C-store employees can pop multiple batches early in the day, then customers can conveniently fill cups and bags with just the push of a button.”

The third machine that might be perfect for your convenience store is the ReadyServe® One, which is a crisping cabinet and dispenser for bulk popcorn. This machine doesn’t pop the popcorn, but it does heat it so customers can still have that full popcorn-snacking experience with an even lighter lift on the retailer. Gold Medal also offers custom options for the machines, including cashless payment systems and custom graphics packages.

Popcorn vending machine dispensing popcorn into paper cup

Benefits of Serving Fresh Popcorn

Gold Medal makes it easy to use the machines once they’re in the store with its Mega Pop® Corn/Oil Kits. The kits include premeasured ingredients, which makes it easier on c-store employees to deliver consistent popcorn batches.

“Some stores are upping the experience of freshly popped popcorn by adding butter dispensers, while others offer loyalty programs where customers purchase one-gallon tubs with free refills,” said Browning. “We estimate that approximately 25 servings per day can pay for a machine in six to eight weeks.”

Browning added that placement of the machine is best near the beverage station or near the front door.

For more information about Gold Medal’s product lines for c-stores, download the company’s e-book, “The Snack Factor.”


This post originally appeared in NACS Daily News.