While convenience stores are probably best know for gas and slurpies — an Iowa State University study shows they could be an untapped market for locally grown products. Mary Holz-Claus says her study found convenience store managers and owners are interested partnering with people who grow products locally. She says there’s a movement by store owners to offer customers things are high quality and fresh, and she says they think local producers can by the supplier of the products.
Convenience stores have long been the headquarters for microwave burritos and other such pre-packaged frozen foods. Holz-Clause says a partnership with local producers could give customers some of the same options with fresher, healthier food.
She says they 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.
Holz-Clause says the convenience stores are a natural choice in many areas to be the link to local growers. She says in a lot of rural areas the convenience store is also the grocery store and serves as “the mecca” where food is acquired. 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.
Holz-Clause says they’ll talk about how they want the product, how they want it label and things like that. She says many producers are working with direct markets, selling directly to farmers 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 and help everyone involved.