ALEXANDRIA, Va.—In the past year, c-stores in the U.S. sold nearly $242 million worth of fresh fruit. The Produce News reports that the quarter of a billion dollars isn’t huge but is positive in pointing to a growing trend in the industry.
Jeff Lenard, vice president of Strategic Industry Initiatives for NACS, said that cut fruit sales increased 14% in the past year and now account for more than half of all fruit sales. Bananas are the most popular fresh fruit, accounting for $81 million of sales, with mixed fruit as the most popular cut fruit at $65 million. Other popular items include grapes, watermelon, mangos and apples.
The upward trend can be partially attributed to the efforts and programs that NACS has initiated. A few years ago, NACS partnered with the United Fresh Produce Association to create a blueprint that increased fresh produce sales at c-stores, giving owners tips and suggestions for how to integrate the food.
NACS also partnered on its “eat brighter!” campaign with the Produce Marketing Association to enable participating NACS retailer and supplier members to use Sesame Street character images to promote fruit and vegetable sales.
NACS Research shows that about 41% of NACS retail members said they stocked more fresh fruit and vegetables in the first half of 2018, and 24% stocked more cut fruits and vegetables. Additionally, c-stores have expanded their health bar selection, nuts and trail mix, as well as packaged salads.
Lenard said a successful merchandising plan includes putting these food items near the drink stations or cooler doors. For example, he said a basket of bananas near the coffee counter is an excellent idea. “To increase sales you have to put items like bananas in multiple spots.”