BY DR GAIL BARNES
IN CHICAGO, US
“’C-store’ doesn’t just stand for convenience store – it also stands for community store,” said Rahim Budhwani, chairman of NACS – the Association for Convenience & Petroleum Retailing – during a general session at the NACS Show which was held in Chicago from 17–20 October. Budhwani also shared that NACS is partnering with leading food and nutrition groups to increase the variety of healthier options in stores. “Too many people don’t buy healthier options in our stores because they simply don’t know we sell them,” he said.
Budhwani’s speech inspired me to explore the NACS show through the lens of health and sustainability, and so off I went in search of products and packaging that would qualify. I was pleased to find a number healthy snack and beverage options on display, as well as innovations in sustainable packaging. Below are some of my favourites that made the list because they were products that I would consume, and did try at the show.
“It’s a vegan, all-natural, non-GMO jerky that has the same rip and tear of meat, but is made out of fruit,” Erika Jubinville, the person behind the development of fruit jerky for Nothing But The Fruit, told me. “It’s both sweet and savoury. Our flavours are concord, strawberry, ginger and coconut; salted watermelon, jalapeño and chia; and mango chili, lime and pepitas.”
A people-healthy product deserves a planet-healthy package. As was demonstrated by Snact, compostable packaging would be a good next step for Nothing But The Fruit on their sustainability journey.
On road trips, the healthiest option that I can usually find is almonds, which are invariably salted, which is why Uncle Ed’s Pantry’s range of snacks with flexible pouches designed to fit in the cupholder were a favourite NACS find. Available in nine health-focused variants, I sampled the ‘antioxidant force’ and ‘healthy trail mix’, with both being delicious. With four servings per pack and 120kcal per serving, plusses were that nuts included in the product (almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts) were mostly raw and unsalted, making for a 0% sodium content.
“We have nine different variants, all of which have very healthy-for-you mixes,” Paul Murphy of Harold Levinson Associates, the brand owner of Uncle Ed’s Pantry, said. “They’re very tasty and we sell them to mostly convenience stores throughout the northeast, but we’re eligible to ship them throughout the country.”
“We’re packaging it in the best way possible for our consumers, in terms of keeping it a fresh, great product, but also making sure that when you tear the bag, you’re not pulling it all the way off and losing that top so it gets out into the environment and causes litter in the world,” said Tim Goldsmid of Jack Links.
Irish company ButterflyCup displayed their compostable and biodegradable paper cup that does not require a plastic lid. Coffee drives the highest frequency among the top five C-store category drivers, with 47% of shoppers stopping in daily, so the environmental impact of being able to eliminate lids on coffee cups would be huge.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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