By Erin Del Conte, Senior Editor
Kwik Trip Inc. (KT) partnered with Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in May 2014 and was recognized by PHA for its commitment for healthy food in 2016. KT increased bulk produce sales by 5.5% in its first year as a PHA partner. CSD spoke with Erica Flint, director of food research & development for KT, to learn more about KT’s commitment to healthy foods.
CSD: Why did KT decide to team with PHA? Tell me more about the changes you made via the partnership.
EF: In 2014 Kwik Trip teamed up with the PHA because we wanted to make meaningful changes. Our stores were already taking steps toward offering a selection of healthier foods and beverages. PHA provided guidance on what changes would be meaningful not only to our guests but also to the industry by changing the perception of what a convenience stores sells.
Since 2014 there have been many changes in our stores. Bike racks are installed at all new stores and existing store remodels, produce offerings have expanded, Eat Smart and Healthy Concessions programs were created. Employees receive a piece of fruit when at work, our offerings of healthy packaged foods have expanded and we also teamed up with the Drink Up initiative to name a few.
Our produce offerings have really evolved over the years. Stores started out selling bananas, which is something we’re known for today. In addition to the bananas, stores also sell potatoes, onions, tomatoes, avocados, apples, oranges, pears, lemons and limes as bulk produce. We offer popular seasonal items as well such as peaches, cherries and different apple varieties. Whole grain items and low fat dairy are available in all of our stores.
Kwik Trip is still partnering with PHA in 2018 and thinking of new and exciting ways to expand our commitments.
CSD: How is KT catering to the demand for healthful foods when it comes to foodservice?
EF: Regardless to whether you’re looking for something healthy or indulgent, our food offerings aim to provide guests with options. Our Hot Spot offerings include an Egg White, Ham & Cheese Sandwich for breakfast and a Garlic & Herb Chicken Sandwich for lunch/dinner. Additionally, we offer a variety of salads and sandwiches out of our Fresh Case, which pair wonderfully with our whole fruits, fruit cups or veggie trays. Another great feature of our foodservice offerings is the ability to customize sandwiches and salads by using the free condiment bar available in all stores. Add tomatoes, lettuce, jalapeños, onions, pickles and other sauces and toppings to meet your preferences.
In preparation for our 2014 PHA commitment, Kwik Trip developed its EatSmart program, which highlights some of the better for you options available in our stores. Items that are included in the program are hard-boiled eggs, fruits and vegetables, yogurt, sandwiches, salads, soups, low-fat cheese and nuts as well as coffee, water and other low- or no-calorie beverages.
CSD: What trends are you seeing when it comes to healthy food?
EF: Guests are taking note of the ingredients in their food and beverages and are looking for options with less sugar and also for items that have fewer and more recognizable ingredients in them. KT’s vertical integration allows us more control over the products that come out of our Dairy, Beverage Plant, Commissary and Bakery. Our teams have been working with the recipes and ingredient supplier to help meet the interest of our guests.
Marketing through a variety of different avenues allows stores to communicate to our guests that healthy food options are available in our stores.