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As grab-and-go fresh produce continues to power sales in supermarkets, United Fresh Produce Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) have alligned for a new partnership that will aim to significantly increase fresh produce sales in convenience stores.
A new task force of members of both groups met during the United Fresh 2014 convention in Chicago last week to hammer out the new deal between the two trade associations, which will convene to identify best practices that can be shared across the industry to assist c-store operators to develop their own fresh produce supply chains and in-store management.
The alliance between the two trade groups makes tremendous sense, given that there are some 151,000 c-stores across the country that are increasingly seen as an ideal venue for consumers to buy fruit and vegetables. In 2013, c-store produce sales surged 16.7 percent, more than doubling the overall 7.3 percent growth rate of produce in the United States.
“The business opportunities for convenience stores that manage fresh produce well are vast, for direct sales as well as enhancing the image of stores as a provider of fresh and healthy food options. Fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, ready-to-eat meals and snack products, and even whole commodities can deliver attractive margins and new customer segments to retailers,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and CEO.
“Convenience stores present a tremendously underdeveloped source of produce sales in communities,” noted NACS President/CEO Henry Armour, noting that his organization is both primed and pumped to work with United Fresh "to give retailers the tools to affordably acquire merchandise and sell produce in their communities as part of our broader nutrition initiative.”
At its initial meeting in Chicago, the task force reviewed current challenges in supply chain management, in-store handling and merchandising, and other barriers to produce success for convenience retailers. The committee also began identifying best practices in meeting each of these challenges, learning from those retailers and produce suppliers which are finding the greatest success today. The associations plan to develop tools and services to share best practices and successes with the broader memberships of NACS and United Fresh.