Single Store Owner

JAN-FEB 2016

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12 Vehicle cup holders and c-store beverages have always been good partners, but in- creasingly shoppers are filling those cup holders with grab-and-go cups of fruits and vegetables. Refecting an overall interest in eating healthy—a 2015 Nielsen survey revealed that half of global respondents believe they are overweight, half are trying to lose weight, and people are generally seeking fresh, natural and minimally processed foods—today's c-store buyers are scanning the racks for fresh, better-for-you choices for their afernoon snacking. Convenience store sales of fresh fruits and vegetables (whole commodities like apples, bananas and oranges as well as fresh-cut/value-added produce like prepared salads, fruit cups and other pack- aged produce) increased 10.3 percent to $362 million in 2014, according to Nielsen data. Adding more fresh-cut fruits and vegetables to their of- ferings is a good move for c-stores, says retail analyst Burt Flickinger of Strategic Resource Group in New York City. "Tere is a tremendous opportunity for cut prepared fruit cups and cut prepared vegetables or pre-packaged, ready- to-eat fruits and veggies," he says, citing c-store chains like Sheetz and Wawa that are getting multiple deliveries a day of fresh fruits and vegetables. "Te freshness is well-recog- nized by shoppers, worker-commuters and students as they go about their afernoon." Jef Lenard, spokesperson for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), says produce appeals to all demographics and dayparts. "Eighty-four percent of items sold in c-stores are consumed within the hour, if not sooner, and afernoon is perfect for millennials. Fresh-cut and value-added vegetables and fruits are incredibly convenient," he notes. "If you look at the demographics, 20 percent of the population now is single and living alone—they don't race home to eat dinner at 5 or 6 o'clock. Tey may go home, but then go out again to the gym, a movie or somewhere with friends, and so their afernoon snack tides them over until they eat at 9 or 10 [o'clock] at night." Carrying fresh produce can elevate a c-store in discerning consumers' eyes, adds Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst for Mintel. "About 6 in 10 consumers would like conve- nience stores to carry more healthy foods. While some c-stores are making inroads in this area, they still have a way to go," she observes, adding that c-stores must walk a fne line between providing items consumers want while appealing to their health-conscious tastes and preferences. "To prevent alienating those who are willing to indulge or are not as concerned with health, c-stores need to ofer a selection of convenience store 'staples,' adding in healthier options such as fresh fruit, yogurt and more nutritious oferings," says Bloom. —Lynn Petrak PRODUCE Fresh fruits, veggies make the cut for PM snacks U.S. produce sales growth rates in 2014 C-stores that sell: SOURCE: NIELSEN DATA SOURCE: NACS 2015 DATA 10.3% 2.7% Other Convenience stores 77% Fresh fruits and vegetables Packaged salads Cut fruit and vegetables 57% 44%

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