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The future of food on the forecourt

Release date:
27 October 2023
Childhood road trips helped to form Jo Hayward’s view of what makes for a great customer experience. In a recent speech, bp’s vice president for convenience in Europe spoke about how bp’s food offer is changing
🕒 3.5 min read | 📖 Feature

As a teenager, I used to love spending time with my dad during the holidays, travelling up and down the country. He was a security director for a national building society, so store visits were a part of his role, with customers and branches all over the UK.

I knew that if I went out with him for the day, we’d stop at a petrol station and he’d treat me to a chocolate milkshake and a pasty – something I really looked forward to.

Convenience stores have been present on UK retail forecourts for decades, but they haven’t traditionally been recognized for great quality food and drink – more for treats or essentials when travelling.

Now, the future of mobility and convenience is changing rapidly. 

Big plans

bp is known for being disruptive in our industry, bringing new ideas and ways of doing things. bp was one of the first oil and gas companies to announce a net zero ambition back in 2020, for example.


Another is our partnership with M&S Food, which started back in 2005. Through this collaboration, our UK retail sites became a destination for top-up grocery shops or picking up something for dinner on the way home. 

Now, we’re planning to invest around $15 billion in convenience and EV charging in the next seven years.


Just this year, we acquired TravelCenters of America, adding around 280 huge truck stops, with more than 600 full-service and quick-service restaurants, to our US network.


We are also aiming to double our gross margin in convenience, and increase the number of what we call ‘strategic convenience sites’ by 2030.


We’re also aiming to grow customer interactions at our retail sites globally from 12 million a day to more than 15 million a day in just two years.

Listening to our customers

More than half the customers who visit our retail sites in the UK now come for food alone. People still want treats when they’re on the move, but they’re looking for more.

Our research in various markets across Europe suggests that customers want to be able to purchase something to eat immediately, they want grocery items for the next few days, and they want clean, accessible services and amenities. What we offer today is in line with what our customers are telling us that they want. 

Meanwhile, in countries around the world, our ‘food for now’ and barista coffee offers at our Wild Bean Cafes give customers access to delicious food and drink.

We are one of the leading coffee retailers in New Zealand, while last year in Poland we sold 12 million hot dogs. And in the UK, we sell a coffee every 1.5 seconds and are known for baked goods – selling 3.3 million sausage rolls and bacon and cheese turnovers last year.

Our Wild Bean Cafe offer is still evolving – we’re developing new food lines tailored to different markets and consumer tastes around the world.

The experience of the future

We know that as the energy transition progresses, customers and their habits will change. We expect customers will spend more time at our sites in the future, charging their EVs.


Our challenge now is to work out how we flex our current five-minute grab-and-go offer for a 20-minute customer stay while they charge.


We imagine the new reality will look something like this:

“We expect customers will spend more time at our sites in the future, charging their EVs. Our challenge now is to work out how we flex our current five-minute grab-and-go offer for a 20-minute customer stay while they charge.”

You set off on holiday in your EV.


The kids are in the back, excited about the week ahead. Then, a few hours into the journey, everyone’s getting tired and hungry – it’s time for a stop. Luckily, as a loyal bp customer, you’ve been able to pre-book an EV charger on your app at the next bp site.


After a quick toilet stop – in exceptionally clean facilities – it’s time for some food. The kids want burgers and ice-cream – no problem. Your partner fancies a freshly-baked croissant and a flat white – no problem. For you, it’s got to be the Wild Bean Cafe avocado, halloumi and egg bap.


And as a BPme loyalty member, you get a discount – bonus! You pay for it all on your app, which means more loyalty points for money off next time you visit. Everyone sits back, relaxes and enjoys their food.


And while your EV has charged, you’ve recharged yourselves – as well as your phones and the kids’ tablets – in our comfortable café seating area.


Then, you pick up something from M&S to eat later and get back on the road.

In action today 

We are creating this future and developing new food ranges today.


We are trialling our new Wild Bean Cafe made-to-order ‘food for now’ offer at two sites around London, with a further 10 pilots coming next year. 


Since introducing this concept, we have seen a 60% increase in Wild Bean Cafe sales and a 20% increase in transactions.


These trials are helping us to better understand what customers want and figure out how to introduce new offers that they will really value.

We will keep building our retail expertise and keep working to transform forecourt convenience to provide customers on the move with what they want, when they want it and where they want it.

In the UK, we sell a Wild Bean Cafe coffee every 1.5 seconds

In Poland, we sold 12 million hot dogs in 2022

We’re developing new food lines tailored to different markets around the world

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