Whole Grain Goodness at Your Local C-Store

Kwik Trip shares its approach for introducing healthier options, including more whole grain products.
November 13, 2014

BOSTON – During a presentation at the Whole Grains Council conference in Boston this week, Jim Bressi, director of product development for La Crosse, Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip, described several ways the company is trying to make a mark through providing healthier food options, reports Food Business News (FBN).

Bressi described Kwik Trips’s EATSmart and healthy concessions programs to conference attendees. The EATSmart program contains a menu guide, meals that are balanced and fat-controlled and shelf markers. “We’re trying to change a lot of misconceptions, and we’re trying to add things,” Mr. Bressi said, as quoted in FBN. “We’re trying to be an innovator and a leader and get other convenience stores on board. By having over 400 stores … we’re able to do that.”

Kwik Trip is taking many of these actions on its own, taking on the task of not only selling product, but also making and distributing it. The company operates own dairy, ice cream plant, beverage plant, bakery and kitchens, as well as an extensive distribution system.

Specific to grain-based foods, Kwik Trip has been a member of the Whole Grain Council for six years, and has offered three whole grain bread options since 2011. They are currently developing their hearty eight grain bread to be used to buns for their hot food program as well as retail sales.

According to the article, one advantage to being your own supplier is the ability to control costs. The price point at Kwik Trip is cheaper than at many supermarkets because the middle man has been eliminated. For example, customers may buy two loaves of Kwikery classic white bread for $1, and Kwikery specialty bread and buns are currently available for 99 cents each.

Kwik Trip was the first convenience store to partner with the Partnership for a Healthier America. Among its commitments, Kwik Trip has pledged to offer four categories of fruit, four categories of vegetables, six whole grain products and four non-fat or low-fat dairy products. All of the foods will be priced less than Kwik Trip’s regional average price to increase the affordability of such healthy products for customers. Kwik Trip also has agreed to promote at least two EATSmart combination meals that meet specific nutrient and affordability criteria, and encourage healthy behaviors among both consumers and employees by labeling all EATSmart items and fountain beverage machines with their caloric content information, offer a free piece of daily fruit to all working employees and provide bicycle racks at every new store that is built.

“[Our goal is to] get the healthier product out there in front of the customer instead of the Cokes and smokes and making sure the healthy choice is the easy choice,” Bressi said at the conference.

At last month’s NACS Show in Las Vegas, Partnership for a Healthier America announced that Sheetz would be the second convenience store chain to joining their organization.