How convenience stores in Latin America are evolving food-to-go

Date : 22 February 2021

Oliver Butterworth

Retail Analyst

Historically, across Latin America food-to-go has not been a particular hot spot for product innovation and the category is often uninspiring. This is possibly due to the vibrant street food culture in the region, which is readily available, fast to produce, delicious and affordable.

However, in the last year we have started to see early signs of innovation in the category. Despite these developments not being best-in-class (at a global level), they are significant steps in helping the retailers stand out. Providing an inspiring assortment of ready-to-eat products and offering good value meal solutions, convenience stores are giving customers more options for food-to-go and helping them to drive footfall.  

Here we explore some examples of what we have seen so far.  

Café’s and new hot food ranges implemented in Brazil

In Brazil, the two biggest convenience players are Carrefour Express and GPA (through its Minuto Pão de Açúcar and Mini Mercado banners). Mexican retailer OXXO recently entered the market, but has only a handful of stores at this stage. Both GPA and Carrefour Express have started to re-develop the space at the front of their stores to accommodate a new food-to-go offer.


In January 2020, GPA opened its new Minuto Pão de Açúcar flagship store in São Paulo. The store is the first to feature its new in-store café concept at the front of store. The assortment includes a range of breakfast and lunch options, pastries, cold drinks, coffee, and desserts. Various combination meal deals give customers increased value and offer a rounded meal solution. It is worth noting that the café also uses technology that enables customers to pay using their mobile phone, streamlining the payment process.

Source: IGD Research

The flagship is the first store to offer a range of hot ready-to-eat meals. These were created by GPA’s Cheftime team (a food startup that was acquired by GPA in November 2019). An outdoor seating area gives customers a space to consume products on-site.  

“It’s warm, for now!” Source: IGD Research

Carrefour Express

Carrefour’s latest Express stores feature a new counter at the front of the store offering coffee, a selection of Brazilian baked snack foods (Coxinha, Pão de Queijo etc.), cake, and ice cream.

Source: Carrefour

For added convenience, in some store’s customers can visit these counters from outside of the store. This enables customers to purchase food/coffee without having to enter and queue inside.

Source: Carrefour

Peruvian retailer Tambo+ drives footfall through its hot food offer

Tambo+ opened its first convenience store in 2015. It now has over 400 stores and dominates modern convenience in Peru. The retailer sells a vast amount of hot food-to-go, which consists of empanadas, burgers, pizza, and hot chicken.

It runs regular promotions and combination deals on hot food, combined with a branded soft drink. This provides a low-cost meal solution and is a key footfall driver for the business. Tambo+ heavily promotes these in-store offers online and through social media.

In 2020, Tambo+ opened its first food plant, which is dedicated to developing its hot food items. Ready-to-eat meals are a strategic focus for the business to 2025.

Source: Tambo+ Facebook page

Coffee and combination deals attract customers in Mexico

In Mexico, convenience stores offer a limited selection of chilled food-to-go, mostly consisting of sandwiches, tortas, and salads. The hot food offer varies by retailer, but consists of hotdogs, pizza, doughnuts, coffee, and frozen drinks. The retailers differentiate by offering combination deals across food and drink.

7-Eleven, Source: IGD Research


7-Eleven, Source: IGD Research

Convenience market leader OXXO has over 18,000 stores in Mexico. It is widely known for its Andatti private label coffee, which is decent quality and great value.

Source: IGD Research

In some stores, Circle K has implemented coffee counters, which have the look and feel of a specialist café.

Source: IGD Research

Our view

We have started to see some good examples of retailers developing their food-to-go offer in small stores. Up until now, Brazil has been the most innovative market. There, the retailers are starting to re-think the design of the store, particularly the front, which is being used to showcase impressive new food-to-go ranges.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more people working from home than ever before. Those who previously worked in offices five days a week may reduce the number of days spent there after the pandemic. This would mean less commuters and transient trade than before. Convenience retailers will need to continue evolving their offer and find new ways to drive footfall in the physical store.

Offering good value meal solutions could help. Tambo+ is well placed here and does a fantastic job of promoting in-store offers to its target (millennial) customer through social media.

This report covers the latest developments in food-to-go in small stores around the world, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 on innovation. It includes examples from retailers such as 7-Eleven, Sourced Market, Tambo +, Morrisons, FamilyMart, Esso, AlfaMart, Coles, Woolworths, SPAR and Central Retail Group.

This report covers the latest developments in food-to-go in large stores around the world, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 on innovation. It includes examples from retailers such as Kroger, Prisma, Asda, ICA, Walmart, Heinen, Ahold Delhaize, Grupo Éxito Wow, Coop Sverige, Central Food Hall, Colruyt and Mercadona.

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