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    Private Label Manufacturers Set Their Sights on C-stores

    Fresh, healthy and right-sized products can increase profit.

    Lehi Valley Trading Co. offers healthy and free-from snacks for private labels.

    CHICAGO — Seen as a “destination,” convenience stores provide a one-stop shop for fuel, food and everything in between. And now, more than ever, this means opportunity for private label manufacturers.

    “Convenience stores are changing,” said Stephen Young, vice president of strategic business development for Bakkavor, a London-based international manufacturer of fresh prepared foods that does most of its business in private brands. “Cigarette and alcohol sales are down. [Convenience stores] don’t make much money on gas. They are all trying to figure out how to get more customers into their stores.”

    Bakkavor — whose products include ready meals, pizzas, salads, soups and sauces — aims to help convenience stores by upping their offering with more fresh, quality and healthier foods such as snack packs with carrots.

    According to a recent survey by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, Americans are increasingly seeking out convenience stores for the quality of their food. Young expressed the key is to get parents into stores to purchase snacks and other fresh foods for their children rather than going to fast-food outlets.

    “Fresh, healthy and right-sized products are going to get those people in the stores buying for themselves and their kids,” Young said.

    Bakkavor is also “turning the dial degrees on flavors,” Young noted, providing convenience stores the opportunity to offer premium private brand food items like chicken asado burritos, a Mexican-Asian fusion fare, to differentiate themselves.

    “It’s a more upscale product and brings up the price point, which makes operators happy,” Young said.

    Recognizing their hunger for more upscale snack foods, Mesa, Ariz.-based Lehi Valley Trading Co. is also expanding its private brand offerings to convenience stores, according to Chief Sales Officer Howard Kaufman.

    “With the rise of millennials, people are looking for better-for-you items that are value-priced,” he said. “They still want the indulgence items, whether its sweet, savory or salty, but they want products that taste better and are better for you, including gluten-free, non GMO and low sodium.”

    Click here to read the full story from Convenience Store News sister publication Store Brands

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