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7-Eleven Inc., the largest convenience store operator in North America with more than 5,700 stores, is introducing a new line of chocolate candies developed in a partnership with Biochem Sports and Fitness Systems.
Available in three varieties, Ultimate Protein Candy offers a high-protein snack option to customers-chocolate pieces, peanut butter cups and chocolate chews. The product will retail for approximately $1.49 per package.
"Most customers come in our stores for something to eat or drink," said Jeff Hamill, company vice president of nonfoods. "Snacking has always been an important need for consumers on-the-go. I was convinced that we could come up with better-for-you snack foods without sacrificing flavor. I think this is only the beginning."
7-Eleven first approached Biochem to develop a sweet nutritional snack. The Ultimate Protein candies have between 5 and 10 grams of protein, with calories ranging from 150 to 260. "They're not just empty calories," Hamill said, "You get some nutritional return."
Over the past two years, 7-Eleven has grown sales and product selection in its nutritional snack and nutritional beverage categories. "We were watching 40 and 50 percent increases on top of 40 and 50 percent increases," Hamill said. "Right now we're carrying close to 50 different nutritional food items, and that number grows almost monthly."
The nutritional category at 7-Eleven began with the introduction of energy and protein bars, according to Hamill. The company began to focus on nutritional snack offerings after learning that customers were looking for protein-packed snacks beyond nuts and traditional protein bars.
7-Eleven frequently partners with national companies to create proprietary products. "This is a stepping stone to partner with nutritional companies and create more functional foods that meet our customers' needs," Hamill said.