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    C-Stores May Be Untapped Market for Local Farmers

    Study found movement by c-store store owners to offer customers high quality and fresh products.

    Convenience stores could be a new market for locally grown products, according to an Iowa State University study. Mary Holz-Claus said her study found convenience store managers and owners are interested in partnering with people who grow products locally, RadioIowa reported.

    According to the report, Holz-Claus stated there's a movement by store owners to offer customers high-quality and fresh products and they believe local producers can be the supplier of the products.

    Convenience stores have long been the headquarters for microwave burritos and other pre-packaged frozen foods. Holz-Clause says a partnership with local producers could give customers some of the same options with fresher, healthier food, RadioIowa reported.

    She says the study focused on whether there's a niche for local growers to supply not only fresh produce, but also burritos with Iowa ground beef instead of from other sources, according to the report.

    Holz-Clause said in the report that convenience stores are a natural choice in many areas to be the link to local growers. In a lot of rural areas, the convenience store is also the grocery store and serves as "the mecca" for food purchases. Holz-Claus says the next step is to link up the producers with the stores. She says Iowa State will hold a seminar in March to give details to producers on how to work with convenience stores, RadioIowa reported.

    Holz-Clause believes many producers are working with direct markets -- selling directly to farmer's markets. She says they want to work with them to see how they can sell to the larger markets offered by convenience stores. Holz-Claus says it's another way to expand the markets available to local producers, according to the report.

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