IRVING, Texas—7-Eleven is launching a new wave of food and beverages in 125 Los Angeles-area stores from an exclusive list of breakout brands. Almost 100 new better-for-you items were hand-selected by 7-Eleven from 31 up-and-coming companies for the test.
The products include food and beverage items that are keto, paleo, vegan, organic, high-protein, low-glycemic, gluten-free, nutrient-dense, plant-based and cold-pressed. “When our emerging brands team created this unique product assortment in collaboration with our category managers, the goal was to give customers drinks and snacks that they might not expect to find at a 7-Eleven store,” said Chris Harkness, 7-Eleven vice president of new business development, in a press release. “Customers are demanding healthier options.”
The selection of prospective breakout brands was curated from hundreds hoping to get a foot in the door with the world’s largest convenience retailer. Last fall, 7-Eleven invited companies to showcase their products at its first “Next Up” emerging brands showcase held at its Store Support Center in Irving, Texas.
More than 300 up-and-coming brands applied, with 70 companies invited to participate. More than half were owned by women (26), minorities (nine) or veterans (two). The “show-and-taste” event provided the selected businesses an opportunity to present products in an expo-like setting and participate in merchandising, logistics and operations workshops with 7-Eleven leaders.
More than 1,000 7-Eleven employees and Dallas-area franchisees sampled their way through the event and voted on their favorites. The merchandising and emerging brands teams then decided to launch the LA test in 2019 based on the success of Next Up.
“We don’t want small and emerging vendors to be intimidated by 7-Eleven’s size,” Harkness said. “7-Eleven is always on the lookout for innovative companies who have a fresh take on a product, a healthier alternative or a unique flavor that might become the next big food trend.”