Eating healthy food is good for your customers, and selling healthy food is profitable for your convenience store.
Convenience store customers from all age groups are now eating more healthy foods. Are you offering healthy food options at your c-store? Providing healthy convenience store foods to your customers is easier than you might think.
The Food Trust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing community access to affordable, nutritious food. Their Healthy Corner Store Initiative includes programs that offer guidance to convenience store owners who want to provide healthier food. Bridget Palombo, Senior Associate for Community Food Retail at The Food Trust, said more people are looking for nutritious food options, so offering healthy foods can boost your c-store’s bottom line.
Before the pandemic, millennials and generation Z shoppers typically were the customers most interested in healthy convenience store foods. “Now, there’s more interest from older community members and seniors. More people want to improve their nutrition and health to boost their immune system,” said Palombo.
Don’t Miss: Convenience stores play an important role in providing food for their neighborhoods because c-stores may be the only place nearby that customers can buy healthy foods. The community around a store appreciates when healthy food options are available. “They view it as a sign that the store owner cares, and it builds up respect for the store owner and appreciation for the business in the community,” Palombo explained.
If you are not currently offering healthy foods, or if you only offer a few choices, jumpstart your healthy foods menu today with Palumbo’s top recommendations.
Here are the Top 10 Tips for Healthy Food Options:
- Hand Fruits (or fruits you can eat out of your hand) — These grab-and-go fruits are easy-to-stock, low-calorie convenience store snacks. Options include apples, bananas, oranges, peaches, and packages of grape tomatoes.
- Dipping Snacks — These snacks are easy to prepare and appeal to both adults and children. Options include packages of celery sticks, carrot sticks, and apple slices with dips of hummus, peanut butter, and almond butter.
- Snack Cups — Cups include pieces of cheese, cut fruit, nuts, or dried fruit. You can purchase snack cups from cheese companies, or you can make them yourself at your convenience store.
- Yogurt Parfaits or Split Cups — These snacks include yogurt combined with no- or low-sugar granola, cut fruit, dried fruit, and/or nuts. The key to making yogurt parfaits healthy is to include yogurt with no- or low-added sugar because many types of yogurt usually have too much sugar.
- Smoothies — Made with fresh fruit and/or vegetables, smoothies are popular because they’re easy to eat on the go. You can quickly make smoothies in a blender to offer to your customers as a quick snack. “They’re basically a meal in a glass, especially if you’re driving,” Palombo said.
- Wraps — Wraps are a healthier alternative to traditional deli sandwiches and fried items. You can make them ahead of time and stock them in a refrigerator as a grab-and-go meal for your customers.
- Salads — Include fresh veggies in your salad and add eggs and chickpeas for a source of protein. You can make salads at your convenience store or buy them from a supplier.
- Crunchy Snacks — Dried kale, chickpeas, black beans, apples, or bananas make easy grab-and-go crunchy snacks. You can even package black bean tortilla chips with fresh salsa, hummus, or bean dip for a healthy snack combo.
- Trail Mix and Unsalted Roasted Nuts or Seeds — Almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds are healthy choices. Unsalted nut mixes can include spices to make up for the lack of salt. Avoid offering trail mixes that include candy, unless it is dark chocolate, which is a healthier option.
- Pretzels, Nuts, and Dried Fruit Dipped in Dark Chocolate — These treats are a healthier option for your customers than candy bars.
Bonus: Offer healthy drinks, too, and display them prominently in your refrigerated section. Options include:
- Water without additives
- 100 Percent Fruit Juice (not made from concentrate)
- Unsweetened Iced Tea
- Sugar-Free Flavored Seltzers
Best Bet: Ask your customers what healthy convenience store foods they want to determine foods that will sell best in your store. You’ll find that as you offer healthier options at your convenience store, customers will appreciate your efforts and reward you with more sales and repeat business which will boost your bottom line.
Smart Idea: Once you implement healthy food choices in your c-store, make it easy for your customers to pick up their order curbside. You can find out more information here: https://www.petrosoftinc.com/qwickserve-curbside-pickup/.
To learn more about the impact that offering healthy foods has on the community, check out The Food Trust’s database on Healthy Food Financing Initiatives.