WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Fresh Produce Association offered a look at the ways convenience stores are using fresh produce to respond to consumer demand for healthy snacks and fresh meals in its latest Fresh Insights for Foodservice report. This includes making fruits and vegetables available through counter service and grab-and-go prepared food stations.
"Convenience stores are increasingly looking to fresh produce to meet their current and potentially new consumers who are looking for healthy 'on-the-go' options," stated United Fresh's Vice President of Trade Relations Jeff Oberman, liaison to United's retail-foodservice board.
Freshness is key to c-stores' ability to separate themselves from the often unhealthy perception of the channel.
Walmart and 7-Eleven in particular stand out for their testing of concept stores that feature fresh options such as smoothies and customizable sandwiches, while Wawa and Sheetz continue to redefine traditional c-store foods, according to the report. QuikTrip also stands out for its expansion of fresh options and its QT Kitchens concept.
A poll conducted by report developer and market research firm Datassential showed that nearly 60 percent of consumers say they would visit upscale convenience stores, and they chose fresh produce as their most-preferred option at such stores.
"As United Fresh looks to expand fresh produce sales through merchandising strategies and supply chain solutions through our partnership with NACS, [the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing], the fall issue of the Fresh Insights report further underscores the many ways that convenience stores are discovering the value of offering more fresh fruits and vegetable options," Oberman said.
United Fresh and NACS first met as a joint task force at the United Fresh 2014 convention in June, as CSNews Online previously reported. The partnership's goal is to identify best practices that can be shared across the industry to assist c-store operators in developing their own fresh produce supply chains and in-store management.
The Fresh Insights for Foodservice report is free to United Fresh members and $50 for non-members. It can be ordered here.