C-Store Salad Days Bear Fruit

Offering produce can be "perception changer" for convenience channel

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- Salads and fresh-cut fruit are probably not the first products a consumer associates with convenience store, but more are offering them, according to a report by The Packer.

"It's starting to increase in convenience stores," Noel Brigido, vice president of operations for Canadian processor Freshline Foods, Mississauga, Ont., told the publication. "Apples have an extended shelf life and work well there.

But he said, "It's still going to take a while for the consumer to realize, 'Hey, I'm going to get gas, a pack of smokes and my fruit at the same time.' The North American market has a lot of first- and second-generation immigrants who are still not acclimatized to value-added."

Regional convenience chains such as Sheetz, Wawa and Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes all offer value-added or fresh-cut produce items. Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes markets produce effectively, NACS spokesperson Jeff Lenard told the Packer.

"Most convenience stores are configured for righties, so as you walk in you immediately turn to the right," Lenard said. "If you do that in this [Nice N Easy] store, the first thing you hit is a solid wall of beautiful produce. They have a produce manager and some of the best-looking produce I've seen."

He added, "They make money at it, but more importantly it sends a real big message to customers, particularly women, that they're serious about fresh and you'll see it in the rest of the store. It's not just a profit driver, but a perception changer."

Lenard sees fresh-cut as one answer to the question of what stores can do to expand their grab-and-go offer.

Click here to read the full Packer report.