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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — More than a third of Americans (34 percent) report purchasing snacks that are "healthy choices" over the past year, and they are increasingly turning to convenience stores to get them, according to a new survey from NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
More than six in 10 U.S. consumers surveyed (61 percent) said c-stores are offering healthier, nutritious products and serving sizes. The latest survey marked the third consecutive year that a majority of Americans said c-stores are providing more better-for-you-items.
"Convenience stores are increasingly becoming food markets for time-starved consumers seeking snacks, meals and grocery items that are both fast and healthy," said NACS Chairman Steve Loehr, vice president of operations at La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip Inc.
Sales reflect growing consumer choice for food items in convenience stores, NACS said, with 59 percent of consumers overall and 70 percent of those aged 18-34 saying that c-stores offer food they feel comfortable eating. Additionally, NACS data shows foodservice sales at c-stores increased 9.7 percent in 2014.
In particular, the survey shows that consumers are purchasing more fresh and nutritious food at c-stores. Overall, 44 percent of Americans said c-stores offer nutritious items, a sharp jump from the 30 percent who said the same in 2013. Meanwhile, 43 percent say c-stores are a place to get fresh food items.
C-store sales of fresh fruits and vegetables — which includes whole commodities such as apples, bananas and oranges, as well as fresh-cut/value-added produce such as prepared salads, fruit cups and other packaged produce — grew by 10.3 percent to $362 million in 2014, according to Nielsen data.