Foodservice

Can Your C-Stores Sell Fresh Produce?

A 10-point checklist to help you determine if your stores are fit for fresh

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill.  -- As more and more convenience-store retailers (and even a distributor) join the Partnership for a Healthier America, you may be wondering if your business is ready for fresh produce sales. The United Fresh Produce Association and NACS created a 10-item checklist to help retailers decide if they should bring a produce program into their stores.

Take a look, and determine if you’re fit for fresh:

1. Customer base. Women and millennials seek out “fresh” most. Are you attracting them?

2. Existing product sales. Strong sales of yogurt, health bars and nuts are good indicators that produce would sell well.

3. Traffic patterns. Examine your heavy-traffic day-parts and demographics associated with them to find opportunities to sell produce (e.g., women are more likely to buy gas in the evening).

4. Location. Are you near a college/university, hospital or upscale residential area? These groups may be more likely to purchase produce for snacks. Are you in an urban/rural food desert? These groups may support more pantry sales/bulk produce purchases.

5. Distribution. Do you receive at least two deliveries per week, or can you find alternative distribution to manage the added complexity?

6. Store layout. Do you have room to add open-air coolers? How about racks and bins for nonrefrigerated produce in multiple locations of the store?

7. Equipment. Do you have adequate refrigerator space for perishables, or other equipment that will help reduce waste (e.g., blenders for smoothies, using fruit that's still good but not pretty)?

8. Cleanliness. Is your store clean? Cleanliness is a strong visual cue for freshness.

9. Signage/marketing. Are you capable of offering signage both inside and outside the store?

10. Resources/commitment. Do you have the time and ability to train staff to handle fresh produce and ensure proper rotation? Is management willing to commit at least six months to trial?

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