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DALLAS -- Leading convenience store chain 7-Eleven, Inc. here said last week it is rolling out the next generation of its fresh food program with the national launch of Pick Smart, a selection of sandwiches, grilled items, and packaged baked goods with lower fat and calorie content.
Fresh food items carrying the Pick Smart label have no more than 10 grams of fat and 420 calories, the company said.
Packaged fresh foods meeting those criteria will carry the 7-Eleven Pick Smart logo and will be priced the same as similar items, between $1.59 and $3.69. The first varieties being introduced are:
-- Chicken with Ancho Chili Lime Spread -- Sliced roasted chicken breast, romaine lettuce, ancho lime spread combining a citrus twist with smoked pepper flavor, on home-style white bread, 9 grams of fat (0 trans fats), 330 calories
-- Turkey and Ham Sandwich -- Roasted turkey breast, ham and cappicolla ham, romaine lettuce, Dijon mustard and light mayonnaise on tomato basil bread - 9 grams of fat, 330 calories (available mid-January)
-- Jerk Chicken Griller -- All white meat chicken seasoned with a blend of Jamaican spices, 6 grams of fat, 114 calories (without bun)
-- Crispy Cereal Starrs -- That crispy rice cereal treat Americans grew up loving, made fresh and shaped like stars; Cocoa Cereal Starr also available, 6 grams of fat, 330 calories
New Pick Smart selections will be added on an ongoing basis, the company said.
Acknowledging the inherent challenges of creating better-for-you meal options without giving up flavor, Kathy Hasty, a 7-Eleven category manager for fresh foods, said she thinks the convenience retailer has found the recipe for success with its new Pick Smart brand of fresh-made-daily sandwiches.
"This is the single most frequent request we get," Hasty said. "'When will you make lower-fat choices available too? We didn't want to take so much flavor out to lower the fat and calorie count that consumers wouldn't enjoy them. Diet trends come and go, but I think the constant is that people are looking for more balance in all aspects of their lives. They don't want to be confined to any specific diet, but are looking for a more balanced lifestyle and to make better, healthier choices."
To encourage customers to try the new better-for-you sandwiches, 7-Eleven is offering a free bag of Baked! Lays Potato Chips with the purchase of specially marked Pick Smart sandwiches. The free chips promotion runs through the Feb. 7 or while supplies last.
The Jerk Chicken Griller and Cereal Starrs mark 7-Eleven stores' first entry into better-for-you grill and bakery items. The recipes reduce fat and calories by eliminating cheese and high-fat spreads, and using leaner meats like turkey and chicken. Pick Smart sandwiches, like all 7-Eleven sandwiches, are made fresh daily, and none have more than a two-day shelf life.
Each item carrying the Pick Smart brand has nutritional information, which is verified by an independent lab and printed on a label affixed to the back of the package.
"Even though a lot of fast food and sit-down restaurants are carrying healthier menu options, customers still may not be exactly sure what they're getting without going online or asking to see an in-store nutritional chart," Hasty said. "Our Pick Smart labels include this information so the customer can make an informed purchasing decision on the spot."
Healthier sides like veggie trays and fresh fruit, somewhat of a novelty in convenience stores, are available as healthy snacks to round out the meal. 7-Eleven also carries several healthy or reduced calorie beverage options in the vault and on the Big Gulp fountain and Slurpee machines.
7-Eleven, Inc. operates or franchises approximately 5,800 7-Eleven stores in the United States and Canada and licenses more than 23,200 7-Eleven stores in 17 countries and U.S. territories.