A primer to help convenience stores sell more produce was published Monday by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the United Fresh Produce Association. “Building the Business Case for Produce Sales at Convenience Stores” combines analysis of industry and consumer trends with practical ideas to develop an enhanced produce offering in stores.
The new publication is the first deliverable from the partnership that NACS and United Fresh formed in June 2014 to identify best practices to grow produce sales in convenience stores. More than two dozen retailers, distributors and produce companies helped develop and review the document.
“We have seen a dramatic increase for customer demand for fresh produce at convenience stores, and this resource was developed to communicate the huge opportunities for everyone in the distribution chain, from farm to store,” said NACS Board Chairman Steve Loehr, VP of operations with La Crosse, Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip. “A recent NACS member survey reaffirms the importance of produce; 62 percent of members say that produce is important to their business plans in 2015.”
Added United Fresh Board Chairman Ron Carkoski, president and CEO with Ephrata, Pennsylvania-based Four Seasons Family of Cos., “Through contributions from NACS and United Fresh member companies participating in this effort, we have identified solutions in the distribution and merchandising of fresh produce, which ultimately will lead to new opportunities for produce suppliers, distributors and convenience store retailers to grow sales.”
A first step in this process is to build the business case for selling produce in convenience stores to all three critical groups: suppliers, distributors and retailers. The 26-page “Building the Business Case for Produce Sales at Convenience Stores” includes:
- Demand, products and consumer trends that can affect sales success;
- An overview of produce customer demographics and sales trends in convenience stores;
- Key elements to consider in developing and executing a successful produce program;
- Suggestions for how to start a program based on one retailer’s experience; and
- An example of a fresh build-to book, including background methodology.
The new document represents the first of several deliverables expected to be released by the NACS-United Fresh partnership this year. The groups are developing follow-up resources to help interested retailers determine the level of fresh produce that they can efficiently offer at stores and a checklist of critical areas to examine. The groups also are planning a number of educational sessions at upcoming industry events.
Additionally, they are examining how to manage costs associated with more frequent delivery of fresh produce to stores, merchandising techniques and handling procedures to minimize spoilage and marketing strategies to communicate this offer to consumers. Internally, the focus will be on training and education, potentially including educational sessions and special hands-on training at existing industry events.