CHICAGO – NACS has been named the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) Partner of the Year. The award was presented at PHA’s 2019 Summit: Accelerating a Healthier Future, on April 2 in Chicago.
The PHA Partner of the Year Award is presented to a partner that demonstrates how it is executing key strategies with and beyond its PHA commitments, including focusing on those populations disproportionately impacted by obesity; doing well while doing good; using an innovative approach to address childhood obesity and other chronic diseases; or creating a ripple effect within its respective industry. Five finalists were selected for the award, including PMA and McLane company Inc., a NACS supplier member. Mercedes-Benz USA received the award in 2018.
“This award recognizes both the efforts of our industry to make the healthy choice the convenient choice and the power of PHA to provide the connections and resources to make a difference in communities,” said NACS President and CEO Henry Armour. “Convenience stores serve 165 million Americans per day, and most customers are in and out of our stores with their food and beverage purchases in about three minutes. That is why it’s so important for retailers to provide cues that can help their customers make healthier choices,” he said.
The mission of PHA is to work with the private sector on both sides of the economic equation, by increasing the supply of healthier options and building demand for them. More than 200 organizations have signed commitments with PHA since the organization was founded in 2010, including nine convenience retailers and six distributors, in conjunction with—but independent from—Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort.
In 2017, NACS became the first retail-focused association to make a commitment with PHA. Elements of the original commitment include:
- A web-based nutrition resource (www.convenience.org/calculator) to help convenience stores identify products as being healthier options and assist them in defining their better-for-you sets.
- Drink Up marketing materials (www.convenience.org/drinkup) customized for NACS members that encourage convenience store customers to stay hydrated and drink water.
- Engagement of small-format stores (i.e., corner stores and bodegas) at Corner Store Forums held at the PHA Summit and the NACS Show.
- Healthier catering options and wellness emphasis at NACS events.
NACS continues to elevate its resources and community-focused initiatives to help NACS members raise customer awareness that healthier options are available in the more than 153,000 convenience stores across the United States. This includes a new partnership with PHA, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and Sesame Workshop to promote produce sales in convenience stores through the “eat brighter!™” campaign (www.convenience.org/eatbrighter).
The partnership with PHA and other nutrition-focused groups has helped NACS share new ideas and insights as to how convenience retailers can offer a greater variety of healthy options. NACS research confirms this progress:
- More than two in five NACS retail members (41%) said they stocked more fresh fruit and vegetables over the first six months of 2018 and 24% stocked more cut fruits and vegetables.
- Convenience stores have expanded their selection of health bars (45% of retailers surveyed said they stocked more), nuts/trail mix (35% stocked more) and packaged salads (37% stocked more). This follows similar increases in 2016 and 2017, making the increase cumulative.
- More than half of all NACS retail members (54%) said they sold salads in 2017, a 10-point increase from 2013.
Consumers have also noticed these changes: One in three (32%) consumers said convenience stores offered more prepared foods and 19% said they noticed more healthy options, such as salads on store shelves, according to a 2017 NACS consumer survey.
“We now sell a quarter of a billion dollars of fruit, which today is as popular of a snack in our stores as popcorn or pretzels. Water sales are $4 billion, a healthy increase from just a few years ago,” said Armour. “And one in six dollars is spent on prepared food in stores. With the help of PHA, convenience stores are redefining what it means to be a great community partner, and we continue to bring this message to our entire NACS membership.”