Convenience Store News

DEC 2016

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40 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2016 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM whole fruit, made-to-order salads and sandwiches loaded with vegetables, and pre-sliced and packaged fruit and vegetables, such as sliced apples, carrot and celery sticks, and sliced melon," said Stevens. "Some c-stores are beginning to feature and sell more frozen fruit and vegetables as well." The fruit and vegetable industry is able to supply these types and forms to c-stores now, and it offers a solution for what consumers are demanding, which is healthy, great-tasting food that can be easily and quickly eaten at a fair price, she added. The packaged healthy category in convenience stores largely encompasses alternative snacks. This includes bars, jerky and pretzels (if baked), according to Lenard. And within the growing category of foodservice in c-stores, offering smoothies or protein shakes is another growing segment — and a good way to minimize shrink. "Bananas may not look good with brown spots on them, but they taste great and can be used in smooth- ies; although often these have to be pre-made because the smoothie bar can take longer than breakfast food," he shared. "Wegmans does this and sticks a straw in it so customers don't have to worry about finding a straw. It's the same thing with a fruit cup offering a fork in the lid. We are convenience stores, and conve- nience means never having a customer say 'no' because something is too much of a hassle." MANUFACTURERS RESPOND Consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers are answering shopper demand for healthier products, too, with many new options entering the market each month, especially in on-the-go bars. General Mills Convenience offers a variety of healthy grab-and-go products, including Yoplait yogurt and Nature Valley granola bars, and the company recently rolled out two new products — Nature Valley Biscuits with Creamy Nut Butter and Nature Valley Granola Cups. Both new items respond to the higher when it comes to health varies by context and channel as well." The bottom line is: There are no offi- cial definitions of what is healthy. So, c-store retailers need to utilize the healthy items they are already carrying, and try new items to see what resonates with cus- tomers, according to NACS' Lenard. Water is considered a healthy beverage and c-stores sell half of the immediate-consumption water in the country by the bottle, so this is an area to high- light, he pointed out. "You have to appear honest and genuine with your customers. It doesn't have to be that you are saying something is good for you, but you can present it in an area that may have other items like it," explained Lenard. "Look at other beverages besides water, such as 100-percent juice less than 8 ounces, or even milk. Pair these up with some better-for-you items found in a grab-and-go case in the store." ITEMS CONSIDERED HEALTHY Sandwiches, salads, sliced apples and whole produce often fall into the better-for-you category as long as they don't have added salts or sugars. Protein drinks, jerky, health bars and energy bars fall into this seg- ment, too, when positioned properly, said Lenard. He continues to see more c-stores get creative and try new things. One example: Flory's, a c-store in Fishkill, N.Y., which is part of a three-store chain, offers packaged kale chips above a grab-and-go cooler. The owner told him sales have been very good. "Find your niche and something you can do that is packaged and won't go bad by Friday," he said. "Breakfast is an interesting opportunity for us because that is when most people feel aspirational toward health. As the day goes on, a cheeseburger and beer sound good. But in the morning, we [c-stores] have a variety of things people want that they can't get at a fast-food place, such as yogurt, boiled eggs, string cheese and protein shakes." When it comes to fruit and vegetables, the most popular categories in the c-store segment fall under: whole fruit, such as bananas, apples and oranges; and fresh-cut (pre-sliced and packaged) fruit and veg- etables, according to Kristen Stevens, chief operating officer of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, based in Hockessin, Del. "Consumers can easily find a variety of 100-percent fruit and vegetable juices, canned fruit and vegetables,

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