Convenience stores have long been associated with consumers’ need for quick cups of coffee, soda, or packaged foods. But that may be changing. Writing for Convenience Store News, Renee Covino describes a new trend – convenience stores are beginning to respond to consumer interest in fresh food and they are stocking a wide range of options.

Covino points to the success of Chiquita which has used a new kind of packaging to keep produce fresh for a longer period of time.  Other vendors have been able to move into the c-store channel by packaging products such as fruit cups in easy to manage containers that allow consumers to eat on-the-go.

When selling these product lines, c-stores will be competing with local grocery stores. Currently, about 96% of all consumers purchase prepared fresh foods at grocery stores yet only about 10% do so from c-stores. Covino advises c-store operators to keep prices reasonable once they begin offering food such as hummus dip and fruit cups. Merchandising displays may make a big difference in increasing sales of these products. In addition to training staff members to push fresh foods, Covino highlights the most important point of all – promote the new offerings.

If convenience stores can work with vendors to share costs of advertising either in-store or via that favorite c-store media format, radio, they may see sales of fresh food offerings soar.

[Source: Covino, Renee.  “C-stores Go Fresh.” ConvenienceStoreNews. 22 Mar. 2010. Web 26 Mar. 2010]