As more convenience stores consider expanding their fresh produce offer in stores, a new resource has been published to help them examine what they need to consider to achieve success with a fresh produce program.
“Are You Fit for Fresh?” a simple 10-point checklist developed by NACS in partnership with the United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh), looks at critical areas to assess whether a specific store should grow its fresh produce offer.
Convenience stores are increasingly adding more healthy and fresh items, according to a NACS member survey conducted in June. More than 3 in 4 (77%) retailers say they sell fresh fruits and vegetables, almost 6 in 10 (57%) sell packaged salads and nearly half (47%) also sell cut fruit and vegetables.
Convenience stores also have expanded selections of these items. Over the past six months, half of all convenience retailers say they have expanded their fresh fruit sales, 30% have increased their cut fruit and vegetable offers and 21% are offering more salads. And sales of fresh fruits and vegetables in convenience stores grew 10.3%, nearly four times the overall 2.7% growth rate of produce sales in the United States in 2014, according to Nielsen data.
“A strong produce program can attract new customers, increase sales, plus deliver strong margins,” said NACS Chairman of the Board and NACS-United Fresh Convenience Task Force co-chairman Steve Loehr, vice president of operations with La Crosse, Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip. “This resource helps retailers ask the right questions about customer demand and resources required to effectively execute a quality program.”
“We want to provide solutions from the entire fresh produce supply chain to help convenience store retailers capitalize on this ‘fresh’ opportunity,” said NACS-United Fresh Convenience Task Force co-chairman Ron Carkoski. “Retailers who share an interest to develop a fresh program can be confident that our effort will address best practices and educational programs to achieve success,” said Carkoski, who also is United Fresh’s past chairman of the board and president and CEO of Ephrata, Pennsylvania-based Four Seasons Family of Companies.
The new publication is the second deliverable from the partnership that NACS and United Fresh formed in June 2014 to identify best practices to grow produce sales in convenience stores. Earlier this year the groups published the 26-page “Building the Business Case for Produce Sales at Convenience Stores.” More than two dozen retailers, distributors and produce companies helped develop and review the document.
The groups are developing follow-up resources and sessions to help retailers execute quality produce programs. They led a session at the 2015 United Fresh convention in June and will do the same at the upcoming NACS Show, October 11-14 in Las Vegas.